Another day spent in infinite bouncing between two self-disciplines: hard work and running. Because what else IS there?
Well, there is also eating, which I sometimes forget to do. And sleep.
And then, there is the less disciplined pursuit of making a living. It’s fine, really: I’m one of the lucky ones, I continue reminding myself; because most of the time, I get to shuffle my schedule around as if my hours were those shiny marble pieces on a backgammon board. And it’s an ancient game: this pursuit of an artist’s life. Too many have done it before me, but only some have succeeded. I want to be one of the some; so, I’ve narrowed my days down to two infinite self-disciplines: hard work and running.
The work has become an anti-anxiety prescription of my own invention. I hold it up, against my griefs — with time or other people, or even against my departing loves — and I say, “What else IS there?” But even though I’ve learned to shuffle my hours, when it comes to success — or accomplishment, at least — they still don’t move fast enough.
And I’ve heard it all: “Impatience is a lack of self-love.” “Impatience is just energy: Use it!” “Meditation! That’s what you need!” But when actually in the midst of the hours, with nothing but hard work in sight, these opinions fail to give me any consolation. So, I wrap up the work — and I go running.
And that’s just another bargain: running. Just another bargain I had made with time, so that I can continue doing the hard work, for a little bit longer — after the success happens, or my accomplishment, at least.
And so, the infinite bouncing continues: I work in order to stop flaunting my impatience toward time and I run — to speed it up.
And in the mean time, there is life, happening in between. I am not idiotically blind to that. I see it. I chip in. I participate: in friendships, loves; in my tiny adventures I can afford for very short periods of time (because I always must come back to the less disciplined pursuit of making a living). But as soon as I am alone again, the infinite bouncing resumes. And if it weren’t for my comrades — in the midst of their own living, always somehow committed with a lot more patience than I myself can manufacture — it seems I could easily forget about all that life, happening in between.
The other night, one of them had dragged me out:
“I bet you haven’t eaten today,” he said.
“You’re crazy,” I began whining, listing all the work I still had to do. I’m a pain in the ass: always hoping for my loves to distract me from my stubborn disciplines; to convince me that there is way too much life, happening in between — and that it’s worth putting the breaks on my infinite bouncing.
“It’s Saturday night,” I carried on. “Everything is already booked.”
“So, we’ll get take-out!” he said.
“Good. That way, I can get back to work.”
My comrade chuckled and knowingly shook his head: What a pain in the ass!
We walked into the nearest sushi joint, already packed to the brim.
“See,” I began whining. “Everything is booked.”
The waitress who got stuck at the host stand that evening, looked up at us, past a million fly-aways in front of her face, and said, “Did you have a reservation?”
I slid out of the way and let my comrade handle that little situation. I, instead, began studying the floor filled to the brim with families, lovers and comrades. There were four sushi chefs behind the packed bar, and they seemed to have figured out some sort of a time-traveling trick: They were moving so fast, the snapping of bamboo rollers in their hands, in between each order, sounded like an orchestra of quirky percussions. And they were all so serious, in a typical sushi chef fashion: serious but graceful — total zen masters! — finding the time to answer endless questions from the mesmerized clientele at the bar.
My comrade came up from behind me.
“Would you look at those guys?” I said.
“Zen masters,” he responded and stuffed me under his wing. Suddenly, my endless bouncing seemed to let up, and I fully surrendered to the temptation to lose track of time.
“How long — is the WAIT?!”
The shrill noise came from the packed lobby. It echoed past the bar, above the heads of the four serious, graceful sushi chefs, and onto the floor, jolting the first half of the restaurant to pay attention.
I looked back. She was chubby, with a face full of make-up. I bet on any other day, I would find her pretty; but the shrill noise made by her lipsticked mouth shocked the shit out of my kindness. Her man hung back: Tall, portly, he had crossed his arms and took on what seemed like a habitual expression of resignation.
The waitress looked up past the million fly-aways in front of her face and calmly said: “Thirty to thirty five…”
She didn’t get a chance to finish: The shrill noise interrupted her verdict, and jolted the other half of the restaurant to pay attention:
“I CAN’T WAIT THAT LONG!”
She stared at the waitress. The waitress stared back at her, calmly, past the million fly-aways in front of her face. The shrill noise-maker turned on her heels and made it over to her man who by now was attempting to camouflage himself into the corner. He’s no use, she seemed to decide, half-way across the lobby — and marched back over to the waitress, at the host stand.
“Is there another sushi restaurant here?”
“Are you fucking kidding me?!” I finally uttered from underneath my comrade’s wing.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” was what the waitress’s face seemed to say as well, from underneath the million fly-aways, in front of her face.
The shrill noise-maker scoffed, turned on her heels again and, again, made it over to her man. By this point, the camouflaged portly creature stuck in his predicament of a relationship seemed to want to vanish. Loudly, his woman did the negotiation to which the entire restaurant was meant to pay attention. And when she marched out, into the night, followed by her defeated man, he gently caught the door she meant to slam shut and closed it, apologetically.