This Landfill, Your Life

How to say to yourself, “look at what you’ve done,” when the mess you’ve made of your life is a landfill of what you haven’t.

You want there to be mounds of old sun and rain-beaten comforts to sort through, but there aren’t. Your life has been lived without collection. Now the only broken edges that catch you catch you from inside.

You want to think you’ve come a long way, become more comfortable with being out of control and at the mercy of chance, without a brightly lit exit, a flashing sign that reads this way, through here. You can even admit you’ve come to enjoy feeling like a leaf in the wind. You want to believe you’ve picked your gaze up from the floor, wiped the shy from your eyes with your sleeve. 

Yet time and time again you swallow glass. You swallow it and save it for those moments when you don’t want to be hidden but still feel you need to build some kind of barrier. You are happy for most people to pass by, for the ones that cup face in hands and peer in at your display – to continue on.

You tell yourself you’re okay with resigning them these roles. That you can turn inward only and always and place your focus on your outlet, whatever that is. Whatever it is you think will give you the answers others will not bring. But you’re wrong.

Because every rare while there is someone who stirs you, who challenges you and makes you want more of yourself, someone who will come along and tap, tapsmash that barrier apart. With them you feel the sunlight undiluted, unfiltered, the warmth and sweetness of it. The brisk taste of the air in rain showers.

This someone will throw a piece of themselves through to bring you back. And you, meanwhile, know all too well that the illusion you give yourself is an illusion, the sole rock you hang onto in the river of your experience.

You tell yourself you can keep that piece they give and place it down, whatever it is, on the barren ground of your lot. That more pieces will come, more people like this someone to give them, to lend them. That soon you will have many mounds to look back on, cherish, and run your fingers. One day far off, with this someone who helped you build it. This landfill, your life.

But it’s not. Your lot goes on empty, your wants nowhere to be found. The mess not a mess, but an apophaticism of one—a circle in the sand.

What energy you put into imagining that someone there is wasted. But still, it’s effortless for you: you are not burdened with mounds and mounds, with comforts collected. The hills of which you must believe would not have been wasted, but used – borrowed to get you where you would have been now.

Here, in this empty lot, on this empty ground, there is no mound you need climb to find that someone, no labyrinth of piles that someone need navigate to find you. Because they’re here now, like they have been so often, and will.

They’re right there in the open; you can see them clearly. The sun shining as brightly as it can, the river as wild. You can hear them asking, “what am I doing here?” And you don’t know how to answer. You’re so full of imagination and so empty of ideas.

April 2013