Death and taxes.

It was a vogue idea in the early 1700s, it seems: “Nothing is certain except for death and taxes.” It’s still quoted today, frequently.

So, in essence: “Once upon a time, TAXES. The End.”?

I disagree.

Sometimes… well, sometimes the end comes well before any taxes are due–a miracle, in shorthand, cut short. Tiny hands that will never hold a dollar, let alone hand it over to the powers-that-be.

But when life lasts just a bit longer, there are a few other sureties. Things guaranteed, at least once in every life, no matter how small and unremarkable they may seem. Their descriptions don’t fit in a truism, so they are disregarded.

A moment that makes you catch your breath and marvel. A smile, a look, a touch, that warms your heart, even if only for a second. Even the most disadvantaged of us experience a few of these moments between our grand entry, those pernicious taxes, and our exit point. Whether or not you have all your five senses, your freedom, your health, a family, a home–you will have these moments. They are just as certain as taxes, just as certain as death, and much more worthy of recognition, ponderance, and remark.

Think of some experience you’ve had–one which you were amazed to discover that someone else shared. Isn’t that one of the biggest secret (or not-so-secret) reasons that we read, that we write? To find those experiences, or to shout about them into the darkness, in an effort to pile up the evidences that we are not, after all, alone?

The only thing that is sure in life is that we are not alone. Death and taxes are just two more things which we all have in common.

Let’s look for those commonalities, these moments worth remembering, every day; and then, let’s help someone else learn to catch their own moments, when they come. If we learn to recognize them, and pile them high together, maybe our bonfire can light up this night we’re all stumbling through. (It sure beats whining about taxes.)

Blather, anywhere.

Friendship-poem

Hey, whaddya know? I can post from my phone.

This poem is from an old book found lying in a dusty waiting room. Somehow I can’t help but picture two chagrined Roosevelt elk locked apart by their spreading antlers, awkwardly trying to reach each other’s lips for a smooch. (Which is so absurd that it’s wonderful.)

Obscurism

Obscurism: The practice of peppering daily life with obscure references (forgotten films, dead TV stars, unpopular books, defunct countries, etc.) as a subliminal means of showcasing both one’s education and one’s wish to disassociate from the world of mass culture.

–as defined in Douglas Coupland‘s ponderific novel, Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture )

Something about setting up a new site saps the creativity out of me. Too much process and not enough presence. So, for my flagship post, I’ll just quote something obscure and self-referencing, because meta.

One of the things I love to romanticize (and there’s a long list) is obscurity. But of course, by drawing attention to it, trying to define it, we undo it. That quality, that ephemeral can’t-quite-catch-it-or-pin-it-down-will-‘o-the-wisp-ishness, is what enchants me. I read a book a few years ago called If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor, and the entire book was basically a fly on the wall of the everyday lives of a handful of unremarkable people in an apartment building. But the act of novelizing their experiences, remarking upon them, made those experiences by definition remarkable.

Things are only unremarkable when we fail to recognize them. The most remarkable events in our lives are the obscurities that we bother to remark upon.

And so, a blog. About obscurities, self-awareness, and reflection–as well as about all the other unremarkable things in my life about which I wish to remark.

ob·scure
adj. ob·scur·er, ob·scur·est

  1. Deficient in light; dark.
  2. So faintly perceptible as to lack clear delineation; indistinct.
  3. Indistinctly heard; faint.
  4. Linguistics. Having the reduced, neutral sound represented by schwa.
  5. Far from centers of human population: an obscure village.
  6. Out of sight; hidden: an obscure retreat.
  7. Not readily noticed or seen; inconspicuous: an obscure flaw.
  8. Of undistinguished or humble station or reputation: an obscure poet; an obscure family.
  9. Not clearly understood or expressed; ambiguous or vague: “an impulse to go off and fight certain obscure battles of his own spirit” (Anatole Broyard). [from dictionary.com]