the rarest thing i know.

April 28, 2012

Slamming down his shot glass onto the ravaged piles of paper, the unwashed, sticky rim of the bottom left piss-colored rings on whatever absorbent surface it contacted. His fingertips left imprints on the filthy glass.

“Everything on this hellhole planet feels the need to leave a mark behind. An old man can’t even walk the beach in the evening without kicking up old cigarette butts or soda can tabs between the demolished remnants of shells picked clean of any of which may have survived the sea in tact. An old man can’t even rest his eyes on the shore without being reminded that ‘Jack + Kate were here’ etching their half-assed romanticism in the sand. Everything leaves a mark, a scar. A reminder. A cry for attention. Everyone is afraid of their own mortality.”

He rubbed his grainy, salt-dried heels together beneath the desk and reset the typewriter.

“We live every day waiting for the day where we can live our lives. Waiting for our bank accounts or children to grow, for the economy to get better, for the opportunity to be everything we want to be while being nothing in the process. We waste a lifetime trying to produce a product of merit, trying to find a way to shove a part of ourselves worthy of fame to the surface in some form or another so it can hang on a wall, be kept on a bookshelf or be quoted by another nobody with nothing original to say. Time ticks on and we become obsessively aware that we have not yet shit out a masterpiece, that no one will display our fingernail clippings in The Louvre.”

Taking a long drag from his cigar, he hacked phlegm worthy of The Smithsonian into the over-brimming wastebasket and wiped the tar from his tongue.

“All we can do is waste a lifetime throwing away pieces of ourselves in pursuit of the piece most valuable to quell the insecurities that our entire existence may be in vain. All we can do is hope the tattoos we stain our bodies with will reflect some legend of the days we burned, and the nights we slept through. We hope our dental records will live on with a permanence, as a proof that we were here. We want evidence that we matter, we need assurance that some part of who we are was noticed, was held beloved by someone else.”

He wiped his aged hands down the front of his face, drawing down the wrinkled loose skin. His palms still stunk of low tide.

“We are all so goddamned busy trying to leave a mark in this world, trying to change it that we never realize how the world has marked us – how we’ve been changed by it. And how that in itself is the only thing that can ever really live forever. Everyone is dying to be venerated. Everyone is dying to leave something of importance behind long after their corpse has fed the soil and pushed up daisies. Everyone is dying for an affirmation that we were alive. Dying for reverence. Dying for remembrance. WE WERE HERE. WE WERE HERE. WE WERE ALIVE. We are all dying so entirely that we never truly lived.”

Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know. – Ernest Hemingway

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4 Responses to “the rarest thing i know.”

  1. D.S. Jones said

    –Heading out for the trail tomorrow—and am glad I read this first. Hemingway wrote in a way that will allow him life after death. Maybe that is leaving a mark, or maybe that is doing something with so much passion and care that it has lasting value? I don’t know. No one knows anything. The Tao has a line in it about just doing the work. I forgot how it goes. Then again that’s the point. See you in Georgia?

    –DS

    • Fountains said

      You may have missed some of the irony in this one, but good luck on the trail. Georgia is a big place, and unless you find a mountain to climb by the beach, I’ll hear from you when you get back.

  2. Obsession. Well laid out and well painted. The idea that we can lose ourselves in the drive to leave behind a legacy and really miss the journey, therefore cheapening our experiences and ultimately who we are, is heartbreaking.

say something to me.

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