Letter to my Son
Sunday, 28 July
Good Morning Jack…
When we last talked you were very enthused with your writing. The story you related expressed a personal conviction and an insight into human nature I would not have had the maturity to know at your age. You have always given me good reason to hope your future will be one of promise fulfilled. From a very early age your mother has always spoken with great faith in your character and your capacity to achieve your goals. There are no certainties, though. Life offers the fortunate few the opportunities to make a real difference for the better in the lives they affect. I know your strengths and I believe fortune looks kindly on you.
The other day I felt there was purpose to my life and there was a renewed clarity in my thinking. I had such energy making plans and carrying out tasks. The following day I crashed. It was just as clear to me I was a lifelong fool. I had no prospects. I was doomed to find comfort only with delusions. Today I felt neutral about most everything life offered me. I did what I needed to do but without joy.
The facts of my life had not changed from one day to the next. I assessed the essential nature of my life through the filter of emotions whose origins are a mystery to me. They seem as uncontrolled by me as are the weather systems that sweep through the area. Some feelings linger. Some are briefly felt. They can be mild. They can be intense. They all come and go.
I don’t imagine myself unusual in experiencing such regular swings in mood. It’s undoubtedly a part of everyone’s life. How do we handle these ups and downs? How do we manage with any consistency the work we set about each day to do? I suppose we could medicate ourselves and use drugs to induce highs when our sense of self is low. The initial results will undoubtedly seem encouraging. How much more rewarding life has become once we use chemicals to manage our mind. The problem is we come to avidly believe this course of action as being a real solution, despite the mounting evidence you can’t cheat Mother Nature. Once you’ve drank from the mythological fountain of everlasting happiness your mind will be unwilling to let go of your own personally groomed fairy tale. The dry laws of physic apply to all things real and alive. There is a mathematical precision in the manner in which life sustains its balance. Our actions are values assigned to variables that reside in the grammar of equations and the results don’t require our consent. Nature settles its accounts without concern for human consequences – yours, mine or anyone’s.
At some point the chemically altered mind comes to cherish a life that was once simply a matter of normally shifting daily moods. There was a time when you experienced contentment because you accomplished something truly worthwhile. Happiness did not require a monetary transaction. There are moments of annoyance and discomfort each day but it is a relief compared to feeling resentment, rage and paranoia as a permanent condition. Being dependent in the company of likewise dependent people is to exist within a collapsed realm, where all thoughts are blind to any possibility outside one’s own overwhelming, persistent need.
Would it be wrong to feel happiness in the simple act of just being alive? If happiness doesn’t seem a justifiable reward for merely living day to day then can we settle for a sense of satisfaction with our life? If being satisfied with ourselves still seems an unjustifiable reward for our small accomplishments then doesn’t it seem to be a healthy practice to hold within us a pleasant but humble feeling of acceptance? I think somewhere here lays the personal attraction of Harvey’s friend, Elwood P. Dowd. If that name doesn’t ring a bell then I suggest you look into the story of a six foot three inch invisible pooka and his amiable friend. He’ll happily give you his card and invite you to dinner. It’s the least he’s willing to do.