It was a quiet weekend, punctuated by deep greens, blues, reds, and oranges, and the thought that I don’t ever want to die.
The cool, dry weather was a welcome reprieve from the Inconvenient Truths of the last few weeks. Gone was the sweltering blacktop, the pre-soaked t-shirt, and instant exhaustion. In its place were cool mornings, dry afternoons, and deep sunsets. Instead of hiding indoors, we relished the fresh air and sunshine.
Saturday night found us at Keyspan Park in Coney Island for my second Cyclones game of the season. It couldn’t have been a more beautiful night for baseball. The sky was cloudless, the ocean a rolling swell of diamonds, and the field a well-groomed meadow of emeralds. As the innings ticked off, and the sun fell behind us, Coney Island’s neon rose against the night sky. The stands were filled with Brooklyn’s finest and most diverse: open shirts, gold chains, and acid wash. A few Brooklyn Lagers, hot sausage and Carvel ice creams later, we found ourselves blissed out on the Q, steaming for Manhattan.
‘This is New York City,’ I thought. ‘This is why I’m here.’
Last night, as the sun fell over New Jersey, and the coals became embers on the grill, I looked up at the streaks of orange and red clouds and thought, ‘This is too beautiful, too perfect… I don’t want to die.’
“We are all born with the same uncertainty,” Bo Lozoff told me last month. “The king, the prince, the pauper — they are all the same.”
He paused to let t sink in.
“I could die in my sleep. You may not make it back to New York,” he said, smiling. “We never know.”
He paused again.
“And what a gift that is! We are all tasked with being completely in the now. We are all tasked with finding divinity within ourselves in the now. There’s no time to waste!”
I don’t spend an inordinate amount of time considering my death. The older I get, though, the more aware I become that this is it. This moment will never come again, and will pass quickly. Accordingly, time’s passage may well be my prime motivator. I gotta’ get right right now.
Mister Rogers spoke quite a bit about what he called “the honest self.”
“We will never be fully happy,” he said, “Until we are one with our honest self.”
My honest self is totally uncool, completely sensitive, slightly damaged, somewhat shy, and craves attention. My honest self is creative, expressive, excitable, and dorky. But there is another “me” in me, one that wants sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll to make me whole. A psychologist, or AA counselor, might call that “self” is The Addict.
I stopped getting high going on ten years ago. I couldn’t be happy until I did. I stopped smoking cigarettes a bit more recently. I couldn’t be happy until I did. I stopped being a Lothario, and aspiring to the pages of Rolling Stone magazine. I couldn’t be happy until I did.
Used to be a few bongs hits, the hum of guitars and roar of an adoring audience was all that made me pause. Now, it’s just a friend, some quiet, a simple sunset, and the hope for many, many more to come.