Life without traction

Now I remember now what I had been thinking about while pacing with only one arm cross over my abdomen, the other straight — that I could not imagine being alive another forty plus years. Having been reminded that Wilde died in his forties, I recalled Kafka had died in his forties, and Thoreau had died in his forties, and Whitman had lived a long life, and Hemingway had died in his mid fifties, and Faulkner in his sixities, and Woolf in her forties or fifties, and de Maupassant in his forties, and I “simply could not imagine another forty years of not being Thoreau”, as I absurdly put it, the cog of my life having simply failed to meet the cog or toothed wheel or gear of life in general, the gear of writing similarly failing to meet that machine of writing in general, gear not touching gear or sprocket the chain so that everything moved but nothing advanced, no actual work being done, could one possibly envision another forty years of it? Kafka is probably the go-to author in such cases, the primogenitor. To restate the problem, it is perhaps one of a failure of traction, so that no amount of work done here results in any application of force over here. Now, one says all this and means it but has the suspicion too that, actually, one doesn’t know what one means: that one’s love of life is still there but only deeply buried, and the moment it becomes threatened, it will become unburied, and the moment it becomes unburied, one says, oh my god, what have I been doing! oh my god, all that I’ve been missing! and so, no, one is not hoping quite but one is not doing anything stupid either. Not squandering the one thing that one has, indeed preserving the one thing that one has. Perhaps it just takes a person forty plus years to realize that nothing he thought was possible is in fact possible; forty years that everything he thought since the moment he began to think has been not just wrong but not actually thought. On the one hand, then, the proposition of another forty years of life without traction, which seems totally unliveable; on the other, the idea that one could find it in a day — could, in fact, find too much of it. That it could still come prematurely. Get me out of here, you might find yourself saying, once you’d found some traction.

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