Sep 26, 2017, 05:56AM

Lost Weekends and Endless Summers

Life can be a battle, a bare-knuckle alley brawl.

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Harry Dean Stanton, 91, died recently. One of the best character actors of our time, he played loners, drifters, losers, and eccentrics. He had his sentiments, opinions, beliefs, and ideas on life and living it. He was the characters he portrayed. He ascribed to the meaninglessness of existence, and said nothing really matters. He said everything that happens will happen. There are no reasons. There are no accidents. There’re too many answers to the same question. Why? There’s never enough time in a day or lifetime to do it all. We take it on the chin, keep a stiff upper lip and kick ass. We make it hard, or easy. Life can be a battle, a bare-knuckle alley brawl. It can be a permanent vacation. All our compassion doesn’t guarantee a ticket to the promised land.

It’s always time to lace up the gloves, or throw them off. Hang up your guns, or lock and load. Call me a naysaying fucker but all this shit of late is too much. My artificial intelligence is getting in the way of my artificial reality. All these substitutes for reality are now the industry standard for what constitutes the norm. If someone wants to get lost they can easily disappear. If you’re looking to be found just be available. It’s the games people play. Happiness will eventually make you sad. You can’t sustain joy forever. Whatever you’re thinking at any given moment is of no consequence later on down that dirty road of life. Every purpose has the luxury of no meaning or dual meanings and defines everything we think we know. Every action is a redundant exercise of mindless repetition. We’re creatures of futile habits rewinding our shared histories and inventing new ones. Whether we participate in the farce or sit on the bench. A constant indigestion from the bullshit we must swallow daily. Taking our medicine with a grimace of the never-ending lies. We live to reach the finish line breathless and out of change for the meter of a life lived.

Humans are not well-made. We break and wear out after repeated use. We can’t be replaced, recharged, or refunded. Our expiration date is spinning on a wheel of misfortune. Some call it planned obsolescence of the body, mind, and spirit. Assuming we have souls is just as arrogant as thinking we are worthy because we have some semblance of intelligence. We can reason and justify our way through life’s illusions. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care but that’s also a lie. We try to make sense from the barrage of bombastic nonsense. Someone or something is taking a giant crap on our heads. We must wallow in the babbling brook of our respective mess. Just don’t shit where you make waves. Freedom of choice is having none. Our options outnumber our abundant lack of evidence. Should I wear the green shoes or the blue tie? Do I look like I’m having fun? This is just another tale told by an idiot, full of words and blustery fluff, signifying nothing except the time it takes to write the words. Shakespeare said it first. And even that fact signifies nothing. It’s merely part of the old newsreel film.

So what does this story have to do with Harry Dean Stanton? Nothing. It seems that every time someone dies who we admire and love, a tiny piece of us goes with them. Eventually there will be little left of me and plenty of everyone else floating around where ever we go when were gone. All the lost weekends of my early days add up to one long time of forgetting and remembering. All the drunken days and nights of running with the devil. Running from myself. Watching the leaves fall. The summer’s end is lamented without a good reason. The seasons offer rebirth and give false hope to better days in some distant future. The past lingers like a splinter under your skin. A constant reminder of the pains and suffering we must endure to muddle through the years. When we finally arrive to the big finale there’s nothing but god’s punchline. Dreams can sustain us. Hopes are the lies we weave to make a three-piece suit of now. The masks change like the weather. Our prayers go unanswered. Wasted words upon deaf ears. What fools we are to buy into dreams, hopes, and prayers.

When Charles Bukowski died I was ready. Reading his last words had prepared me for his demise and his writing about it prepared him too. I wasn’t shocked or surprised. In fact it came as a relief and a release. But are we ever ready for that final appointment with the reaper? The only meeting you cannot cancel. There’s no judgment day. We live with judgment all our days. According to Harry Dean Stanton, it’s all part of the movie. It’s fitting that we give homage, and pay our due respects to those we look up to who came and went before us, paving the way for our journey into the great wide open abyss. The unknown is what puts the fear in us and leads the way to some other place, that great beyond no one has ever returned from. It gives us the fuel to live and fight another day.

We have plenty of time to ruminate over things past until the clock stops. Time runs out, but it never ends. This timeless paradox is the stuff of dreams. Always in perpetual motion, ever forward with non-stop flights of emotions. We awake only to sleep. Are we moving or standing still? It’s what we do. Going straight ahead to the next moment. We have the power. Oscillating like ocean waves kissing the shore, pumping blood in rhythm where our tears become rain in the endless summer. The synapses sparking and flashing electric powers that light up our eyes flicker like high beam headlights out of that cluttered skull of experience unfolding. Waiting and watching the movie of our little world go by.

  • And yet, what's so weird and paradoxical about Harry Dean Stanton is the fact that in some strange way he transcended his words about the meaninglessness of life, and brought meaning through his grit and pure authenticity. Call it "negative philosophy," if you will - a way of pointing out some hope through suffering. Despite his outlook, I never found Stanton hollow or some deep void, and I never thought he wore a mask, but complete authenticity of being. Glad you wrote about him in such an interesting, elusive way.

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