Mulishness

by dschapman

I am just too stubborn. I am fleeting and ambivalent in inconsequential matters, but stubborn and short-tempered when something is important. I am stubborn in a passive way, ground-up, a silence with no good intention of resolution, like a ghost that just drifts through the home of its childhood, saying nothing, just shaking its head. I have committed to some rather dubious dreams and affairs and I have come to resent them now, as I know them now to be childish affairs, but I do not deviate from my path because I am too damn stubborn to deviate. I try to compensate by being super healthful, by brushing and flossing my tongue and my teeth three times daily, by eating my portions of vegetables – but I am sick to death of eating food. Well I don’t have a choice. It is just another chore. Who has choices, anyway.

I could go on and on like this. My father suggested I write about the last few years of my life. I laughed and said that was impossible. I said that I’d tried, but it was all trite and personal, too psychological. I rejected every suggestion he had for me. They were are all perfectly good suggestions. I complain about hard work. I damn my back pain, I lament. But I am half-acting. Sometimes life is really hard. But most of the time life is so easy, so easy that it takes a truly special strength of will to somehow remain suffering, to suffer in the face of pleasure, through all the bounty and comfort and diversions. It is a Jewish intellectualism of the self, existential, the beautiful despair – and it’s intolerable. I can’t escape it. The stubborn, therapeutic suffering, like a poltergeist roaming the halls, throwing plates. I picture the house-dwellers, like myself, with too much time to ourselves – and too stubborn – growing old. Dressers contain a few dirty secrets and all our old world clothes. A note reads, “I shuffle my feet through the leaves, I climb into a tree, and I wonder why nobody loves me.” Soon the 20th century will be mythological, like the antebellum South, and my kind will be softly extinguished, and then repurposed as myths. In this way ghosts can live forever, a stubborn man might never have to budge.

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