“If you meet the Buddha, kill him.”– Linji, Zen Master
–This post composed to/ inspired by https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkoOQoaWLY0
So I just got back from Georgia, the country not the state. People were so lovely and things were very different from France and especially Paris. I’m sure people were especially kind because I was among friends of friends of family much of the time, and America is well loved by young people especially for helping protect the country from Russia. Perhaps being an American abroad used to be more like that before some of the misadventures of the last 15 years or so.
“I got out, I got out, I’m alive but I”m here to stay.”
I thought this had to do with Paris, and getting out of te bullshit of the “anglo-saxon,” and particularly American world. Heard this song with a friend from a wealthy Southern family who had married a French bouge for convenience in part and had a baby with an aristocrat she passionately loved who is now fascinated by Brits and wants to get in touch with the anglo side of Paris and apparently has trouble meeting American people, after more or less a decade trying to avoid them. We were in an Irish pub listening to the most velvety voice I”ve ever heard live with Irish, Scottish, and Welsh/ENglish dudes we’d met in the Scottish pub in Paris.
THe more I listened to the song, and met some Brits and thought about life, I realized that maybe it would be imaginable to leave Paris for London as work seemed to be dictating, and the new boss who would be there seemed amazing when I met her. And maybe the BRits have something to teach too. Plus it could still be possible to come back to Paris and back to my current type of position.
A lot to think about.
I feel so disgusted with the French. I’ve been here for years trying to fit in but have nearly no French friends outside of work. I find plenty of French guys to go out with, particularly the not classically franco francais de souche types, and I got disgusted and jealous of the friends with their French life partners who can barely hold a conversation (in French) who have fully Americanized or nearly so partners. What is so wrong with me that I am scorned?
Not a single thing.
As my Georgian host suggested, “You are too open for them.”
And I like my openness, and I hate their pettiness. THeir claim to universality that is really just assuming you are a barbarian if you don’t know all their fussy unwritten rules or worse, challenge their monopoly on Civilization.
The worst is how I have become randomly rude and nasty to people, especially French, in retaliation for all the small slights and unkindnesses I have experienced. I hate that part of myself. I love my openness.
“I hold two fingers up to yesterday, light a cigarette and smoke it all away.”
I don’t smoke, still too American and health conscious for that. I fucking hate all of them who feel like they have the right to comment on my weight, by the way, and tell me what a shame it is to have a pretty face and a fat body. They mean well, but that doesn’t make it right. And note, the French do not have a monopoly on such types of compliments and in a way I appreciate their forthrightness.
“Hey, hey it’s fine, I left it behind.”
There are so many things I love about it here. When I was a teacher, the pounds fell off me and I lived a simple if boring and isolated life. Things seemed enchanted. When I was a student here, it was truly the first time in my life I felt truly accepted for who I was. Working here, I’ve become a higher breed of professional and found motivation to stay and fight things out and learn what I could from business because of the amazing quality of life I have here. By which I mean, vacation and reasonable hours and nearly universal acknowledgement of the fact that work is not life’s number one priority or the surpreme arbiter of a person’s worth.
“There’s a story for every corner of this place.”
I don’t know if I will actually leave France, but I see a lot less value and meaning in becoming French. I bought a magazine on Frenchness and identity and read all kinds of historical texts and essays in it, realizing the French are the most idealistic and also bastardly motherfuckers out there. Universal declarations of the rights of mind and petty, petty persecution of a Jewish civil servant just because he’s not a “real French” and all that, luckily the leading lights of the literary establishment came to his defense, but Emile Zola got sent to exile to London in the last years of his life. And now he is claimed as a French hero. I guess wherever you go, the radically important people who stand up for the truth get kicked up. Also, don’t forget to keep in mind that the artistic bohemian set we revere from the 1920s and all that weren’t so well accepted, and Cezanne was never exhbited in his hometown of Aix en Provence because the local curator there thought his work was dog shit.
It’s not exclusively French to deal in this type of hypocrisy, but somewhere I read that France had not produced any real genuine larger than life eccentrics, and somewhere else that in Paris all the moves of life are choreographed and everyone is policing everyone else thta they behave according to the codes. A civilization toppling under its own weight.
But please god, please odn’t collapse. Please show us there is another way in the Western, benighted world than what we boorish materialistic concrete dolts of anglo saxons have cobbled together. Let there be culture and rayonnement and gloire and not just cruelty.
I hope France doesn’t turn to just any country.
But I think the ugliness in France and in the US is a bit in reaction to losing some of their national glory, and it’s not pretty. Fuck the authoritarians.
So yes, I am perhaps a wanderer. No, perhaps I don’t need to stay here until I have a fully gestated French self and passport. And maybe there is no ultimate truth I will ever find, and all my idols will be shattered in due time. It feels like nearly all of them have.
Hopefully the false beliefs holding me back will be next to go. As it turns out, all this myth of national glory and Catholicism and even business school rationalistic thinking is all holding me back I think. Just as much s the save the world idealistic make a difference not a buck silly liberal arts school cant has.
I feel a bit alone and helpless. Is this nihilism?
“Something is changin, changin, changin.”
I think this must be the post modern jumping off point where I finally construct my own values and stop looking outward for meaning. Maybe all there is is art, and French civilization was right about a few things: wine and madeleines.
LIke Proust, I will note with gladness the care and soin and terroir that went into the wines I tried today at a salon des vins. There was even convivialite and someone told me she didn’t think I had an accent.
“Running too hard you got out but your knees got grazed.”
Maybe part of it is my abrupt and desperate exit from America in hopes of something better, and yes, another emperor has no clothes, and it is devastating. Devastating.
I’ve known this for a long time without admitting it.
And in the past week, I had coming back from Georgia, seeing a bit of TUrkey and realizing they are a bit of a center of the world too, and most of all, an amazing massage, which was followed by an amazing Crossfit session and some intense sex later that night, the three amazing physical things all within 24 hours, and me feling like I lost 15 pounds and walking up straighter. The thing is, during the workout, I realized what I love most about myself: my heart.
Also called hustle by my old basketball coach, who gave me the number 23 like Michael Jordan, not a little bit symbolically since I was chosen to be a benchwarmer but ended up starting as the season progressed, I can get hit and keep going, when I am literally 10 minutes behind the res tof my peers for a 30 minute workout I can just keep going anyway and finish it, thinking to myself:
“It Ain’t How Hard You Hit…It’s How Hard You Can Get Hit and Keep Moving Forward. It’s About How Much You Can Take And Keep Moving Forward!”
― Sylvester Stallone, Rocky Balboa
Fuck Philadelphia, I hated it there, but I have something in common with the place.
And today, I realized I am the only person not coming from an upper class background living the life in Paris, and I am earning more and doing more than my peers, at least at this point. I am the one in a position to offer career advice. I have done something rare and heartful in that. Yes, I have a very supportive and loving middle/upper middle class fmaily, but my parents have never been to Europe and I didn’t go to Disney until I was an adult.
I did graze my bit on the way here, and getting up off the ground here. I didn’t start a new job, a new life, a new career path in a new country without some bruises. But I made it.
And perhaps if I went somewhere else things would be easier, but it would be because of the strength I have developed here, in part.
Perhaps it’s due to the claims ot universality, and the vacation time and places I’ve been able to see, that have made me realize Paris is not the center fo the world, and I could be happy in many places, even, and becoming Frenchis not as important as becoming myself, it’s not necessary at all really.
“I got out, I got out, I got out, but I”m here to stay.”
Don’t know what will appen now. Do we ever? I know I am not going to keep fighting to be here if it’s against my best interest, whatever that is. I don’t want to be ruled by my ambition, but I don’t want to put a ceiling on myself either.
And my ambition is not and has never been really corporate or job oriented; it has been about saving the world, living the lifestle I want, but most of all, finding the truth.
ANd what I have found is, the truth is kind of malleable. ANd the truth cannot be contained.
It’s not in Paris, city of LIghts, it’s not in Goergia not even among the “wild” Svanetians in their mountain paradise and unbroken traditions from Colchis.
IT’s not in AMerica, not in Captain America who I just found out has been working for hydra all along.
It’s not my first boyfriend who I “loved,” or at least was bonded to and lsot my viriginity to who put a ring on my finger. It’s not in “my Marine” who thinks he’s Captain America and loved the notebook and is the only person I fucked because I loved and for no other reason, just because I wanted to be close to him.
I don’t even think it’s in the babies I love, even though they are not mine (yet). I don’t think it’s in marital bliss or motherhood or the Catholic Church.
I’m not even sure it’s in God, or if GOd exists in the way I was told He did, or even in a round the world trip to seek myself and find Him/Her.
It’s not in vending machine madeleines or binge eating, it’s not in the bottom of my Coca Zero.
Nt even in guarded sex with strangers or less guarded sex with friends or boyfriends. Though God, I wish I could really love someone again.
I think it’s somewhere in the fact that you can someday look at someone, realize they are no perfect and time can’t make any promises and neither can they, and not so much commit and make a plan to control the future and shape it as youplease, but more in that moment of total vulnerability, long before a ring or a ceremony, when you open your heart knowing that in some form, “this too shall pass.”
Not only that we are ashes to ashes and dust to dust, and more irrevocably mortal than Snapchat or any video game character, but that we arjust cherry blossoms and fall leaves, here for a season and no more.
Not the cosmic gardener, not the might eternal tree, but just leaves.
And yet perhaps of all of them.
And our only task is to be beautiful, and wear our colors boldly, bravely, and truly, from tenderest green shoot to ethereal blossom to green summer vibrance to fall foliage fading to yellow to brown to becoming part of the ground again. Back to the ground of being.
I hope we get to keep some measure of individual consciousness, and all my love and life and memories and even my complexes and fears and so called revelations aren’t lost.
But most of all, I hope that now that I’ve killed the Buddha and realized aht I have perhaps outgrown my spiritual teacher and seen all the ugly dirty PETTY PETTY PETTY flaws, I can still find the light within, and without.
But something tells me now is the time, I have to find the light within.
But until you start believing in yourself, you ain’t gonna have a life.”
― Sylvester Stallone, Rocky Balboa
Time to go back to career plan #1, where I can never lose my job: artist.
PS GOd knows i did the best I could tonight and couldn’t go to sleep before letting the words out. t was urgent, not ego pleasing, and very hard to say these things. Not painful, just that it took all my courage. And so far, life has met me more than half way every time I’ve been honest with it, and myself.