The first book you write is about certain things. Leaving home, first love, school... the interplay. The disaster, how for no reason the work you do is not rewarded, and then she flies away where you'll never see her ever again.
Then you're left to write about faith. You're left to write about the real you. The kind of person you'd want to be. Equal parts tragic and triumphant, or at least, a survivor, for the time being.
Jesus himself must rely on someone. He knows those in need of a physic. He is one himself. And so he goes to see a shrink, a nice lady like you. In order to be more, better with his values, stronger, less confused.
I had a dream of having to sleep under a lion, and the only thing you could do besides not being arbitrarily eaten was to relax, like just to totally limp rather than fight the teeth and claws right above your head. Finally the lion gets up and that's when you make an exit.
I wrote the first book because I felt cheated. It didn't help things to smoothly that I was a bit depressed, my parents splitting up, the end of the house... I felt like absolute hell by the time the whole thing had come to its end, college, the unsuccessful reunion weekends I wanted to see her... I went out on my own, down to DC, fell into the restaurant business. That gave me a tribe to run with, and maybe that's how people of my blood type, O, view relationships, as communal sorts of things. I guess I knew, like, when my suspicions arose, that I wasn't cut out for modern academia, a sense of its corruption, I don't know... It was like I was this hunter, a warrior, good to my people, and here were these selfish farmers cutting out lots out of nature, declaring it their property... Where am I going to go? I've got nowhere left. Bartending. The restaurant business, which in some ways is the perpetrator, the perpetuator of all my faults, my love of crowds, wine, the adrenaline, the noise, the avoidance of facing responsible action....
But along the way, somewhere, it's like I've gotten to know Jesus's life, the things he was talking about. I mean the creative aspect of him, his way of looking at things, the self-confidence, the clarity... the depth.
And with you, in your professional presence, Doctor, I'm almost being respectable again, responsible, talking about things in an honest way, the way I actually see them. Which could potentially be tainted by an outside view of me, the old charge, he has a Christ complex or he's crazy or a drunk or party animal or whatever. A person outside of society, with no possessions, no home, no nothing, as if he were way ahead of himself for realizing the final human condition.
And meanwhile the world keeps speeding up, speeding up. Drones flying. Every personal little click you make on the internet being recorded to feed back particular marketing to you, for being 'the kind of person you are.'
So what if I take some form of comfort in thinking about Jesus in this modern world of hollow selves, all show, all marketing, and here I am a renter at fifty. "I have that within which passeth show," Hamlet says.
I did get a little wine article published in the local newspaper. But, I mean, to Jesus, how much of an accomplishment would that be against his psychological lessons for all the world? And I'm still grappling with faith, with the fact that I am of little, and would want more, but how to go about that?
Maybe faith is just relaxing, being vulnerable... But I wish the original girl I'd met had been a kinder psychologist, talked me through some stuff, because we all need a physician from time to time. God, I know I could be a total idiot sometimes and really, yeah, disappoint her, but the lack of support, the lack of reaching out, the lack of kindness... If you were Jesus you would have been offended by it. Not that I am.
I know that if I were to be like Jesus than all the things that have bothered me would become a lot smaller. I'd have faith. I'd move on. I'd see things correctly.
But I wouldn't be the Jesus paraded around simplistically, pro-marriage, pro-family, in a way that puts down the poor hurting people like me who haven't get their shit together.... who are struggling to get by in some ways, no retirement plan to reassure themselves with that all will be as okay as it can be okay... Not all your stuff out in the street one day.
I guess after you've been out in the desert and sort of faced all that, all the insecurities, you become impersonal, in the way Jesus was. People come to you, and by and large the have the same problem, the very same one of not having faith, being possessed, not being good ground for the seed of understanding....
I just don't see Jesus as being this big proud family guy. He can't really fit into any of that, the life of a profession, a specialization, the wary shrewdness. "Come on, little lady, let me take you for a ride in my new Camaro, because I know how to take care of things." No, I just don't see him that way. Yes, of course, obviously he takes care of some stuff, but it's all Jesus stuff, and goddamn he does it well and clairvoyantly. Totally nonchalant about it, the greatest hitter in baseball. He reads minds, he reads people, he sees their faults, their little sins, the things that they keep with contradict the good intentions of the deeper soul, the ticks of hypocrisy within.
David Foster Wallace, he was looking for something like Jesus. Stuck in that battle to be modern and clever, specialized, talented. The things he had to say were Christian, and in the rooted way, roots in Buddhism's noble truths, Christian wisdom is. Very sensitive to that. He wrote about boredom and spiritual boredom and un-belief. He could have used a little more Jesus to hold it all together, like all of us. Ye of little faith. Walk on water, I command you, I give you permission, now that I've cleaned your head out of all the crap they've fed you, the Romans, the Pharisees, the marketers marketing in the temple, marketing marketing.
But it's all so sad, all the things we're supposed to believe in for our own economic well-being and self-protection...
Maybe that's why I had to go through my struggles, for having to face losing the things I cared about, even self-respect almost, but somehow enduring, a slowly built understanding of things rising up out of the deeper consciousness, as I've always trusted it, whatever you'd want to call it. And now I can say, well, I wasn't right for her, she wasn't right for me, except in a perfect world, maybe.
Yes, after double restaurant week, rookies, nights without a busboy, a string of large parties to contend with, after a birthday party to go to, I was tired and I slept. And I thought of Jesus, who, I think, is able to maintain his creativity and his energy by taking those naps, naps the faithful must take to clear out the worldly objects and all the marketing that makes its way in your door.
I had trouble writing because I didn't know what I was writing about. But you've helped me figure that out, Doctor.
For some people, you know, finding Jesus is sort of clichéd thing, the alcoholic waiter finding strength through almost blind instinctive belief, becoming like the stereotypical born-again... And for others of us it's more complicated, individually found and conceived. I drink too much sometimes, being under a fair amount of stress, so be it. But perhaps that's just as much because we have no real way to be like Jesus the way the world is now, absolutely no way, no door left open, the consequences too great, the demands too great. It would upset too many people, those people having too many claims, their minds already made up.
You have to find your own way, and indeed, keep it more or less private. Go and tell no one.
The alchie coke head real estate guy I saw at the party standing around, I say hi to him and he says happy groundhog day, and I say I've got a joke about three japanese guys who get hit by lightning playing golf, up at St. Peter's gates, asked the meaning of Easter, and he's quick to cut me off, he's not a believer in any fairy tales. Okay, my friend. Sad person.