Altered book, 2003
Chapter 5: The Philosopher
To alter this chapter of "The Philosopher" I decided to get real. Here's my interpretation of my life. This was the year I'd quit teaching to focus on my art and writing. I was waiting tables and bartending at a Mexican Restaurant in Williamsburg. I was making my book. I was writing. I was even starting to write art reviews for a neighborhood paper. It was fun.
The picture above is me taking a cigarette break outside of my restaurant. I didn't smoke that much, but it allowed me a break, so I took it. Stood there, got some air, watched the people passing. It says here, "The things we do to keep the flame burning, and write our fire in the sky." Those are the lyrics to a Bonnie Raitt song, Luck of the Draw.
Here's the view of my restaurant from the Polish Diner across the street.
I thought about documenting my life itself, not just getting stuck in my head. I often get stuck in my head. You can still see the same tendencies today. I was trying to find my way out of that place.
Sometimes the wind blows, this says. I remember this windy Autumn day wandering around Brooklyn Heights.
Sometimes I wonder if it means anything at all. Does it mean a thing? Everything we think is so important... is it?
All those things you must have, people, choices, experiences-- we think we can't live unless...
But I always see to go on living. I always move on the next and the next and the next.
Maybe this iwhat the buddhists mean by letting go of passion-- that need, necessity, oh so important listing of what life gives to you.
Even my dreams... must I? So important. What will make me HAPPY. But really, will it?
Life has the MEANING I give to it.
I think back then I was in a great anxiety over doing what I thought I should do with my life. I was 33 and feeling the pressure of hitting 30 without reaching what I thought were my goals.
I was supposed to be a novelist, a published, well recieved novelist at this point. I was supposed to be a writer.
Here I was trying to revise the meaning of my life.
Now, today, I'm doing the same thing. Aren't we always?
Who are we? Are we artists? Parents? Students? Writers? What does it mean to succeed or to fail? Is it really about what we achieve? What we possess?
More and more, I think it is less about what we have, and more about what we do. Less about reaching our goals, and more about reaching FOR our goals. Life is a process, not a product. But there is a product that comes out of our process.
It isn't about having children, it is about living with them, helping them grow, laughing with them, enjoying them, disciplining them, teaching them.
It isn't about being a published author, it is about writing those stories that are within you, and overcoming the fears that keep you silent. It is about commiting to your self and your project. It is about taking steps to share with others.
That's the meaning I give to life now. Life is about living.
What is the living that gives your life meaning now?