Five More Pieces of Fleeting Advice
- “I cannot help vanishing and disappearing and dissolving. It is my foremost trait. -Stephen Crane-
- “One way or another, it seems, we all perform vanishing tricks, effacing history, locking up our lives and slipping day by day into the graying shadows.” -Tim O’Brien-
- “I do have a sense, and I’ve never not had it, of how easily things can vanish.” -Doris Lessing-
- “I have a sense of melancholy isolation, life rapidly vanishing, all the usual things. It’s very strange how often strong feelings don’t seem to carry any message of action.” -Phillip Larkin-
- “The past itself, as historical change continues to accelerate, has become the most surreal of subjects-making it possible…to see a new beauty in what is vanishing.” -Susan Sontag-
Before July 2020 Disappears
It’s a few hours before another month vanishes, nothing left but memories and an old calendar page (if you are one of the few who still use paper calendars). I hope you have some good memories to take away from July and can scratch off any bad experiences as easily as deleting an old appointment form your calendar (for those of you who have gone digital).
I spent some time this month exploring the topic of vanishing, both literal and metaphor. Some things that vanish impact the individual and others an entire culture. It’s important to take notice of what vanishes whether it be a person, place, or something that we hold dear. We are all recorders of history in one sense or another. Maybe that is what history is, just trying to remember what has vanished.
When the Past Vanishes
Anybody who is familiar with my journos will know that I tend to sentimental sketches and ramblings at times. If you are new here consider yourself warned. I once read that if you sit in one place long enough you will eventually run into everybody you know (I’ve spent enough time in bars and coffee shops to think there may be some truth to this). I’ve also read that if you live in one place long enough you will see pieces of your own past vanish (I’ve lived long enough in one place to think there may be some truth to this).
There used to be this just low class enough, just dive enough bar that I frequented in my early twenties. It was one of those kinds of places you would go with friends to drink heavily and try to meet someone (or a least be a wing man for one your friends who was trying to meet someone). It was the kind of place where you would spend a good chunk of your week’s pay on not too cold beer and watered down whiskey drinks. It was the kind of place that had a second rate DJ on Friday nights and third rate bands on Saturday nights. It was the kind of place with long lines at the bathroom and a haze of cigarette smoke (showing my age here) over the dance floor. In short, it was the kind of place that was the source of many good times with friends, many of whom have faded away over time. It’s amazing how we move from being friends who drink together until 3:00 a.m. to friends who occasionally “like” each other’s social media posts. If friendships of youth vanish it stands to reason that the places, those dive bars, would vanish too. There were many nights spent at Dreams with Brad, Chris, Dano, Drew, Ken, and others. Dreams is gone, a fire burnt it to a shell, and I’ve lost touch with most of those friends, two decades can cause people to fade away.
An absence of place (an old dive bar) and friends (moved on or faded away) can make you feel as if a part of life has vanished. But life isn’t a collection of places and proximity. Life is experiences and how we react to them. I went to the upscale bar and grill that has replaced Dreams a few weeks ago. I bought their cheapest beer, took a sip, closed my eyes and realized that the important things will never vanish if you care enough.
Five Pieces of Fleeting Advice
• “There was not a moving up into vacated places; there was simply an anachronistic staying on between a vanishing past and an incalculable future.” -F. Scott Fitzgerald-
• “I should like to tidy things up and disappear.” -Virginia Woolf-
• “Leaders should lead as far as they can and then vanish. Their ashes should not choke the fire they have lit.” -H.G. Wells-
• “I do have a sense, and I’ve never not had it, of how easily things can vanish.” -Doris Lessing-
• “Plunder, v. To take the property of another without observing the decent and customary reticences of theft. To wrest the wealth of A from B and leave C lamenting a vanishing opportunity.” -Ambrose Bierce-
Keeping Track of What Vanishes
Ever wonder where things go? Where do plans, places, old friends, and missed opportunities end up? Sometimes we can pinpoint the exact locations of these things, but other things simply vanish. There is the slow fade that we don’t notice until that thing we admire, desire, or hold close to us is gone. Then there is the quick vanishing act, as if some unseen magician has played some sort of cruel trick on us.
As I grow older it feels as if more and more things are vanishing (maybe I was too busy to notice them when I was younger). We live in a world of vanishing things such as objects, animals, places, and languages just to name a few. There are those things that have a personal impact on us when they vanish for one reason or another, and entire cultures are impacted when other things vanish. As I write this the word “thing” feels vague but when dealing with such a wide array of concepts what other word works (there are probably many better words that could be used but the 90 degree weather and the sixer of Miller High Life may be impairing my vocabulary)? Maybe the best we can do is to remember those things that vanish the best we can.
Whether it is a slow fade out or quick disappearance things vanish all around us. Some of these vanishing things impact us on a personal level and the vanishing of others may impact entire cultures. This month is about those things that vanish and the impact their absence may have on us.