I hate paying dues. Always have. It’s the built-in cool-wall that creates a hierarchy of privilege. Paid dues? You get the scoop, the benefit of the doubt, the trust, the better deal. Haven’t paid? Then all effort meets a brick wall. 

And like the man in the desert of Casablanca once said, You wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. 

I know it’s everywhere, in everything, but frankly it doesn’t do anyone, ever, anywhere any damn bit of good. Honor effort. Honor skill. Honor talent and insight and multiply whatever natural virtue might exist with the benefit of incorporation, with the benefit of peer relation, with the compounded advantages of elevating the whole horizon. 

When you don’t, you create this system of dependencies. It’s not a team, it’s a network on a Foucault’s pendulum strung from a singular point of authority and the gravity of need and fulfillment of whatever purpose this swinging sack exists to fulfill.

(I have a diagram. Really: think a pyramid, swinging in constellation to the force of the market economy, a room of students, and all the points required to channel and transfer actions, actions as simple and transforming a phrase like “I want a bike” into money, material, and words, and then presto! the thing desired is now real and in the hands of someone, when a moment ago it was sputtering neurons in the brain before the pyramid went to work, those influences rippling along the network that allows it to happen. That whole jelly-like pyramid swings to feed the demands below the floor, all swinging around the deciding point: where there is truly a vote of affirmation, or negation. All else – all of us in the middle – is just transfer.)

But when you don’t know where you’re going in life. Or when you’ve gone down a number of different paths. Or when you’ve tried and failed or succeeded and burned out. It’s all that blank beginning, unless you can conjure up via the magic of a confident (or confidence-inducing) ego in which case all’s history to your benefit, then all that’s not continued if seen as abandoned, or lost, or something else equally negative. 

I still remember reading about the French system of apprenticing incorporated into lower levels of school, something that’s still fairly common in the world at large. Wanting something that resembled a structured path where knowing that one foot goes after the first is the most essential expression of effort, in moving from learning to doing to practicing whether you’re instructing past perfect tense or tuning a bicycle or writing a song – and recording a song – there’s that beneath it all: the river of action, of rhythm and change. And all you’ve got to do is keep moving. Bear it all. Accept and accompany with openness the challenge, the weight, the task, all its parts and consequences. Can you mop a floor? Here’s a mop. Here’s a solvent. Here’s the bucket. But even something like that it seems is too complicated.

Like registering for a master’s. Or finding a well down to that river of action beneath all the particulars, the things you can pick up without even trying because that empty, all-moving river is hungry for sharing the best of all things among all the hands that convey you to a cogent conversation, a quick, quiet bike, a song; all its many parts in synchrony, all mutually aware of every other system, rotation, tension, cycle, every other intimate and minute force, physical or conceptual, all in play. 

The flip side of always playing catch-up is that occasionally you surprise some people. 

Only then sometimes you wonder what incredible surprises lurk beneath the blanket of normalcy we seem to unconsciously layer upon so many of the great multitudes of us, we, this people on this planet, and all the whirling infinities of that possible world where no one ever feels hamstrung by the artificial tests we use, to test one’s resolve, to fuck with, to haze, or even in the simplest and most benign ways to simply differ between Those Who Know (and therefore those with whom we share) and Those Who Don’t Know (and therefore can’t be bothered to include, instruct, inform, and in so doing truly deputize as agents of our collective effort and knowing; 

Well, those whirling infinities are many. Many and perhaps some terrible, if knowledge and action is amoral; many are perhaps even more terrible in the beneficence they portend. And we’re here, in the sticky Reality of the middle. Maybe that’s what time is, itself: the sticky slowness of experience that happens when you mix the velocity of imagining the future and the echoing morass that is recalling the past. 

I wonder if you can relate.