“Days like this, like your day today. Maybe the rain on the window trying to get through to you. What do you see today? What is it? Where are you? The best days are sometimes the first, sometimes the middle and even sometimes the last.” Charles Bukowski, Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame
Sometimes I feel, sometimes I feel, like I been tied to the hitchin’ post. Tied to the hitchin’ post, tied to the hitchin’ post. Good Lord, I feel like I’m dyin’.
Note: He may have been singing a different tune but this is what I heard.
Ernest Becker, the quintessential optimist and sometimes life of the party had a thing about worms. It’s possible that he was an avid fisherman or gardener, although there was no mention of that in his biography.
One of my favorite of his worm quotes is from a book he wrote that won the Pulitzer Prize back in 1974, The Denial of Death:
“What does it mean to be a self-conscious animal? The idea is ludicrous, if it is not monstrous. It means to know that one is food for worms. This is the terror: to have emerged from nothing, to have a name, consciousness of self, deep inner feelings, an excruciating inner yearning for life and self-expression and with all this yet to die.”
Reflecting on this has got me through many hours at the lake when the trout weren’t biting. But I think David Gerrold said the same thing in a better way: “Life is hard. Then you die. Then they throw dirt in your face. Then the worms eat you. Be grateful it happens in that order.”
Food for thought.
“In this short Life that only lasts an hour
How much – how little – is within our power”
I was standing by the water thinking of nothing in particular when a guy pulls up and asks me if I saw a white duck. I said no, why? And he said: I’m looking for him. At that point I knew it would be just another ordinary day in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
The rest of the morning was spent in a fog, literally, only now my thoughts went from thinking of nothing to thinking of nothingness. I waited over an hour for the sun to come out and took a few photos of nothing.
I was about to leave with nothing when I thought of something Jean-Paul Sartre wrote in Being and Nothingness: “It is therefore senseless to think of complaining since nothing foreign has decided what we feel, what we live, or what we are.”
Note to self: don’t buy that book and think of complaining that it’s too hard to understand. My uncle warned me about that almost forty years ago.
“Mother used to say that however miserable one is, there’s always something to be thankful for.
And each morning, when the sky brightened and light began to flood my cell, I agreed with her.” Albert Camus
Willoughby? Maybe its wishful thinking nestled in a hidden part of a man’s mind, or maybe it’s the last stop in the vast design of things.
Or perhaps, for a man like Mr. Gart Williams, who climbed on a world that went by too fast, it’s a place around the bend where he could jump off. Willoughby? Whatever it is, it comes with sunlight and serenity, and is a part of The Twilight Zone.
Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre has been called the bible of existentialism. It’s a long, difficult book to read, and depending on who you ask, it’s either a work of pure genius, complete nonsense or both.
It might be worthwhile to look at some other things that Jean-Paul Sartre wrote in order to understand existentialism and his perspective in general.
For example, he said: “All I really want to do is go to the book store, drink coffee and read.” Back in his day book stores didn’t even have Wi-Fi, so you know he was serious.
Another thing that’s crucial to understanding the man and his philosophy is this: “I do not think therefore I am a mustache.” Well, obviously.
And possibly the most important thing he ever said is: “Three o’clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do.”
This is especially true of most outdoor photography unless you plan to shoot wide open, convert to black and white, and call it something obscure like being and nothingness.