Today Sep and I decided to end our collaboration so that he can focus on doing different kinds of research in other fields.
Our partnership began in 2005 and produced three beautiful children — We Feel Fine, I Want You To Want Me, and our recent We Feel Fine book. It was a good collaboration, and until this morning's unexpected break-up call, I thought it would keep rumbling along until we grew old together, or until the Internet did.
The break-up was not a huge surprise to me, as our divvying up of responsibilities had left little overlap in our day-to-day concerns since the summer, and I could feel us growing apart for some time. Plus, Sep is now a family man, and I think he wants real children instead of metaphorical ones. I am just sorry for the unborn digital child in my stomach whose gestation process will now be longer and more lonely, but who I still plan to have and to raise, even as a single digital Dad and even if it requires a C-section.
Also, the family man, as an archetype, has little to do with the hermetic workaholic rambler, so I guess you could say that Sep and I were traveling different paths and living different myths. Yet still it ruptured my formerly crystalline (but increasingly cloudy) idea of the future, once again reminding me how tenuous ideas for the future often can be.
When I hung up the phone in the hotel room in Romulus, Michigan, and walked out into the bright midday light under a sky that really was crystalline, my life suddenly felt very thin, like there was me and then there were vast distances between me and the next thing, which was probably half a continent away, unless of course you count the camera in my bag or the project on my computer, which have become faithful sidekicks, if not always faithful friends.
When your life is feeling thin, there is a temptation to feel thin of spirit, and to hunger for connection. The more accustomed you are to a steady social diet, the more biting that hunger can be when your diet suddenly changes. But Rilke says that when you are truly alone, with vast distances between you and the next thing, then that is the time when you can finally expand, because there is suddenly so much vastness for you to fill up.
But this refilling should be done slowly and with great care, to make sure that each thing you pour into your life is real and essential, and will nourish you. If you gorge yourself suddenly with a great feast, your body will throw up the food, because it cannot adjust so quickly to abundance after learning to subsist on austerity. When Gandhi would finally break a fast, he would start slowly by sipping lemon juice, easing himself gently back into the consumption of food.
I think it is like that, too, with life, though it is not so easy as pouring water into a glass and deciding whether or not to add lemon.
It is more like trying to balance a martini glass on your head while people are throwing lemons at your legs and you are standing blindfolded in a roaring Oregon river in April, when all of the snowmelt from the mountains is rushing downstream to flow into the ocean, and you just happen to be in the way.
At times like this it is good to know how to kayak. And if you do not know how to kayak then you had better learn fast, because the water is freezing and if you go under you will be very cold and there won't be much time and your only chance just might be the Eskimo roll.
I was thinking about all of this today at the airport, overlooking a spouting water display for a while, then standing in the watery tunnel with the strange music, and then later in the Religious Reflection Room, to which I was the only visitor. Meanwhile, a tsunami washed over Haiti.
On the flight to Salt Lake City the sky was full of clouds, but just before we landed a sliver opened up like a wound, and the setting sun was there for a few brief moments. Thinking again about the rapids, I remembered that they only run in springtime, and that after springtime always comes summer.