Maybe you didn't realize I was a Dharma bum. Maybe I didn't realize it. I saw clearly tonight that my five-year New York City experiment has taken a new shape. My life experiment has as well I guess, as it must, as they are inseparably aligned. To fully know, and conquer, a place - as is my wont to do - one needs to experience it from a number of different perspectives. It struck me tonight that I only know New York from the viewpoint of a young, fresh-from-college, profession- seeker. My rise from arriving here raw and broke, to getting temp work, to getting my first real job, to reaching a top-salary job has only been a narrow view of this place. Perhaps I need to conquer it as well from a position of poverty and work yoke scraping by craftsman hustle grit feeler angle. Maybe I'm not as lost as I frequently profess. My behaviour and quests are always the same: watch people, listen, observe, consider, ponder, remember the details of life as I live it, in the place where it happens.
I was riding in a cab tonight for the first time in what must be at least six months. An onslaught of memories and ideas struck me as I watched the night fancy people quest for the next destination, the next person to bludgeon with stories of me, the next taxi to take them where they wish. As I sat in the car watching Manhattan live and breathe the same dance that I have come to know in the last nine years, it suddenly seemed re-familiar, yet distant to me.
To some extent I lived that life - I participated and contributed to the lifeblood functions of this place. I still do, but in different ways that give me greater understanding and identification with the people I used to wonder about. Time spent here changes one completely. There is a price, and it is not insignficant. Conversations participated in mechanically with mind serving double-duty, considering its path of continuity in addressing its own wishes and whims. Scattered thoughts and broken sentences that illustrate the indirect, if impassible, link between the brain wave continual meandering stream or thought, and that which makes it to the surface. That which others take as sole evidence in your participation with the outside world. I liken it to suggestive and atonal and dissonant and experimental implication music (ornette). Fragments and selections of internal harmonious paths bubble to the surface risking only slight chance of comprehension by anyone who doesn't share the same brain.
Noise, if taken literally.
Prices get higher. Bars continue to be packed. New buildings shoot up everywhere as the spread of wealth and the footprint of inclusion grows. Seeing all this from the other side, from a new position (scary), a familiar tale heard with new ears, of a different teller, in a different house, from the same book.
My job might just be to listen and live and hear and touch and think and fuck and maybe one day make something of value with all these things. Having given great consideration to (and considerable time) identifying purpose has left me no closer to crafting an approach or goals or even a rationale that explains life. As I grow and learn to trust my instincts and intuitions to a greater and greater extent, I can see the accumulation of raw experience, sans analysis and formation of plans, as a more viable and more rational response to that which is life.
Maybe it really is one big experiential and anthropological exploration.
Jason - April, 2004