“Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets.”
On Friday, September 22, 2017, I would have missed walking into Dad’s house and being overcome with relief that the place is not in worse shape — and sitting across from him at dinner and looking into his eyes as he spoke, and the poignancy that accompanies time’s passage. I would have missed such tasty steamed broccoli under my salmon — a reminder that, just like diet is the addition of healthier food rather than the subtraction of anything, so is this project a process of learning to focus on more productive thinking — a gradual, steady transformation of human spirit into a form that I hope will evolve. There was evening water polo with the team here in Palm Springs, and a drive on which Jane’s Addiction came spilling into the moment over satellite and the side of the road was just so very California — which reminded me of all those escapades I took myself on growing up. The music mixed with sensations of memory and visuals of the shoulder along the dunes punctuated by fauna lit up by my headlights and the illumination of stars. The world looks the same as it always has and I feel the same as I always have and I see everything with the same eyes that I always will from now and until I die.
On Saturday, September 23, 2017, I would have missed waking up restored. And oh shit how much would I have missed a couple of water polo scrimmages with the team and some kick ass hair afterward?
So fucking much. Probably nearly as much as I would have missed scoring five goals — including one after a fight in the hole where I refused to drop the ball for a foul. But what I really would have missed, also, was chatting very briefly with a random older guy at the pool, who had asked me about the league I play with. “Oh, is it WeHo?” he asked — and suddenly I saw, in the wrinkles on his face, all the laps he swam with the team back in his day, before he moved out to the desert. At the team party, I would have missed talking travel with the Cute Egyptian as we floated around in the pool and wondering whatever happened to the early 20-something version of me that flew into Athens with nothing but a backpack and a ticket out of Tel Aviv six weeks later. I would miss being a part of the last generation that will ever know what it is like to strike out into the world without a 24/7 handheld Internet connection and wander untethered to discover that, wherever one goes, if there are people there, chances are things will turn out just fine.
On Sunday, September 24, 2017, I would have missed saying Yes to Dad’s invitation for a walk to the corner with him and the dog. I would have missed slowing my gait to where he could keep up — perhaps like he must have done when I was a toddler — and listening to his thoughts as we strolled toward the majestic desert mountains rising above the Desert Cities toward blue sky. Turns out he knows about bitcoin. Back in LA, I would have missed a spontaneous invite from My Dear Baby-Faced Lawyer Friend to see some experimental Latin American films and an equally spontaneous invite from somewhere inside me to the Handsome Graffiti Remover to join us. I would not have missed him fucking up the ticket situation, but I would have missed holding his hand during the movies and snuggling into the arm he reached around me during the discussion — in Spanish — with two of the directors following the screenings. They made the films in the 1970s — and so I certainly would have missed being reminded how fucking LIT my birth decade was, holy shit. How stylin’ they both were — what footwear! And, speaking of that, on the way to the theater, I would have missed my heart being touched:
I also would have missed seeing images from the European Space Agency of stars being born in our galaxy:
On Monday, September 25, 2017, I would have missed treating myself — for the first time in my working life — to an ergonomic chair with a headrest and lumbar support and a desk that electrically lowers and raises to position. My goal is to create a work environment that I want to be in, and love. At Ikea, I battled a temptation to traipse right out of the store with the most expensive component — powered desk legs — upon seeing that the cashier forgot to scan their box. But then I would have missed a gentle reminder from the Universe that honesty really is the best policy — for, after I pointed out the oversight, he saved me a return trip because I’d only retrieved half of the item from the stock shelves! Remaining ethical yields inner rewards in inverse proportion to the corruption that imbues our nation at this point in history, I believe. And, oh yes — I would have missed receiving my second ether retainer in as many days and making progress on a crypto project with a breakthrough.
On Tuesday, September 26, 2017, I would have missed a dopamine fix from listening to I Got U by Duke Dumont in the parking lot at the spa. The song is way overplayed — but I decided to just drift with it anyway — only to remember how much I enjoy steel drums because they tend to sound so happy and they remind me of stumbling upon beauty as it fills the New York subway sometimes. I would have missed stepping out into perfect weather — and the sensation of floating on air. There was the spiciness of that eggplant dish at the Indian vegetarian on Sunset clearing my nasal passages, and talking to a buddy I once dated in New York for a red-hot minute (the one with the transgender cousin who still didn’t clock me over our second or third date as he braved through Ethiopian) about his newfound “crypto fever.” Even more than his excitement and eagerness to learn, can I just say I’d have missed that soothing baritone of a male voice.
On Wednesday, September 27, 2017, I would have missed a photo from the Handsome Graffiti Remover of the now completed mural we saw on our first date.
I would also have missed him lifting me up into the air in the middle of a kiss on the second floor of a parking lot. What happens in downtown LA stays in… my memory.
On Thursday, September 28, 2017, I would have missed the managing editor of CoinDesk become the 501st person to follow me on Twitter. I also would have missed Nassim Taleb prying my perspective open with The Black Swan:
Also I’d have missed sunset at Echo Park Lake as the Handsome Graffiti Remover and I hashed through our dietary differences over the phone and settled on a movie instead of dinner for our next date.
On Friday, September 29, 2017, I would have missed Nassim Taleb once again sort of blowing my mind with The Black Swan:
Afterward, during my morning jog, I walked across a lawn portion of the park that I usually run through, and, as a result, I heard, as if for the first time, birds chirping and a breeze passing my ears. The Handsome Graffiti Remover greeted me with a kiss in the lobby of the Arclight in Pasadena, which I have entered to see movies alone too many times to count. We talked about which films we wanted to see from among the wall of displays for upcoming releases and then ambled through old Pasadena (where he’d never been). His hand was around my waist, and, as I independent and resigned as I may remain, I still feel there is nothing quite like belonging to this special human experience between the sexes — however fleetingly. In between kisses back home, as I tried to figure out what we can do about that breath of his sometimes, I would have missed him sharing a secret that shattered everything.
On Saturday, September 30, 2017, I would have missed waking up with a man in my house and getting to talk to him about geopolitics and personal thoughts and dreams over coffee. Almost as lovely was running through that same lawn portion of the park — only this time more aware of the sights and sounds following yesterday’s walk-experience. I usually take an aisle seat for flights across the country because I get up to use the bathroom so often. But this time I said Yes to a window upgrade and got to look out at the plane’s shadow in the Pacific Ocean as we came back around after departing LAX, the desert out beyond Joshua Tree, the Grand Canyon, the strange red ground nearby, the clouds and their shadows too, and sunset over Milwaukee.
And, in this manner, I would have missed the appearance of the first stars of the night and what I thought must have been the International Space Station arcing over Canada until it lost the sun’s reflection to my viewpoint and vanished somewhere in the direction of what seemed like Montreal. (Later note: oh my goodness — I just learned spotthestation.nasa.gov exists, and, if I understand correctly, the object I saw was indeed the Station.)
After all this majesty, I would have missed — from the vantage point of a taxi speeding across the Williamsburg Bridge — New York lighting up the sky.
And then, at last, in a twist of beautiful irony that unfolded back in the cocoon of my apartment, I would have missed streaming Elon Musk’s presentation on the work of the SpaceX Mars settlement and space travel program. Truth be told, I would miss hoping I might get to live just long enough to see humanity begin achieving our multiplanetary destiny.
On Sunday, October 1, 2017, I would have missed experiencing how much this project has changed me. My initial reaction to something like the closure of the south walkway on the George Washington Bridge has now become: “Yay! I am looking forward to seeing the world from the north walkway, even though it has a series of complicated stairways that are a pain in the ass, because it’s out of my routine — and, sure enough, yo, check out that giant silver sculpture I’ve never noticed before!”
The view up the Hudson River from that side of the bridge really is breathtaking.
Had I not been forced to wriggle into this more receptive state of mind, I might not have ended up in a gazebo in Piermont — across the little square, no less, where I once had lunch with an Indian guy who took me on a motorcycle ride during my brief BDSM phase all those years ago.
I would have missed not checking bitcoin because — for the first time in as long as I can remember since the whole thing started for me — I was comfortable enough with my decisions so far to just not really care about the afternoon’s fluctuations. What liberation. As evening fell, I would seriously have missed The Square — a pitch-perfect depiction of life in our times — and also standing outside the street afterward, trying to be there for my theater/movie buddy as he talked about how the biopsy that comes back on Thursday may indicate an even more aggressive recurrence of his bladder cancer. I do not want to think about how this New York Film Festival may be our last, or how unfair it seems that life passes so swiftly. I long for it all to make sense but struggle with the knowledge that I would hesitate to trade the unexpected for predictability and control. In the subway — which I insisted on taking because there was no need for a cab, even though it was almost midnight — I would have missed a man who appeared to have almost no neck performing his cello in the Times Square station. He breathed through a tracheal prosthesis, and his eyes, nose and mouth, compressed into about half the normal size, were situated down relatively close to his chin. He was playing Elgar — quite exquisitely — and his fingers graced the strings with aplomb. I would have missed contributing a larger donation than I usually do when subway musicians touch my heart, and bursting into tears as I sped down the stairs to the NQRW — because the beauty of inspiration from extraordinary human beings is sometimes almost too much to bear.
On Monday, October 2, 2017, I would have missed a passage in The Black Swan aligning with the incremental nature of happiness that this project is teaching me about.
You know, I think a more interesting question than whether I trust someone is whether trust even matters in any particular relationship. But whatever because what I really would have missed was the shirtless young man speaking French with his buddies outside that snooty but fondly charming restaurant on Avenue B between Sixth and Seventh where I used to go on dates for that weird stretch of time in my early 30s… and also picking up a picture of these guys from a street vendor in LIT downtown Brooklyn:
Now, here’s the thing. If I had not taken the subway the day before yesterday and then posted on Facebook about the cellist, a successful crypto friend — whose event I attended (at the same members only club where I once met up with the British dandy grifter) — would not have mentioned how the experience impacted him. If he had not mentioned this impact, I would not have shared the story with the cute doctor he was talking with. If I had not shared the story with the cute doctor, I would have missed the opportunity to connect with his humanity. If we had not connected, I might have felt compelled to linger at the event longer, and, if I had done that, I would have missed talking in the sauna with my successful crypto friend’s business partner, who also happened to cut out a little early to hit the Baths before closing time. And, if we had not gotten into such a deep conversation, I would not have entered the Russian Room precisely when I did… and then I would have missed saying to a guy who sat next to me, “I hope you don’t mind, but I wanted to tell you that you have one of the nicest bodies I have ever seen.” At this point I would have missed getting a little off on his faint German accent and staring into those exquisite almond eyes of his — man, this draw for me toward guys of Korean heritage is a real thing — as we talked about educational systems and career bifurcation and a-mortality and cryptocurrency, in between dousing ourselves with cold water to enjoy the heat together just a tad longer.
On Tuesday, October 3, 2017, I would have missed a tweet from Julian Assange that got me thinking: “Every time we witness an injustice and do not act, we train our character to be passive in its presence and thereby eventually lose all ability to defend ourselves and those we love.” On the way back from the gym shortly thereafter, I encountered three boys sweeping the sidewalk at the park, and it occurred to me that the balance between patience and ambition is so very, very fine, while the paradox of getting older is growing more confident by learning how confidence is an illusion.
Back at the New York Film Festival, I would have missed The Florida Projectdropping an audience of jaws and Call Me by Your Name leaving nary a dry eye in the house as the father told his 17-year-old son: “We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything — what a waste!” First love stories demolish me every damn time. On this day of days, I would have missed, more than anything perhaps, sitting aloft in a box seat among a theater brimming with so many hundreds of other people who responded to story of a teenager and mid-to-late 20-something man in love — I do totally believe that I was consenting before the age of maturity — and I can only imagine the life I might have gone on to live had I been able to soar under the full light of guidance and encouragement, rather than navigate in blindness under the lowest common denominator rules that our overly prudish society imposes. The shadows are no place to grow up. I would have missed the director and lead actors being part of it all — and looking up through the moonroof of a taxi afterwards.
Guys. This part will seem like it doesn’t really fit but tbh I could not help but think — periodically, throughout the evening — about Paul Bowles. I lamented a little over how that whole thing he represents — going abroad and actually being abroad, disconnected and adrift in an Elsewhere — has receded into a lost era now that we have the Internet and handheld connectivity at all times. I just want to emphasize again — before it’s too late — how grateful I feel to be among the last generation to straddle this experiential divide.
On Wednesday, October 4, 2017, I would have missed three gentlemen playing jazz at the Temperance Fountain in Tompkins Square Park. I would not have stopped to listen but for this project: no matter which road I take at the fork inherent in every instant of life — whether it be the subway which led to the underground cellist or the taxi from which I saw buildings in the sky — a moment worth living will be there, if only I remain open. In the Russian Room at the Baths, I would have missed joining a conversation about Africa — which has been calling me! — with a young woman who just returned from Zanzibar. Wouldn’t you know it, she was waxing nostalgic over how travel is no longer as she dreams it was in the ‘40s… back with Paul and Jane Bowles in Morocco and all the rest… Ha. In this same confluence of human experience, Félicité burrowed inside me at the Film Festival — after the sexy Senegalese director Alain Gomis brought my heart to a flutter with his French-accented introduction. And also there was this:
On Thursday, October 5, 2017, I would have missed engaging in what was meant as an exercise in identifying travel experiences to aspire toward and culminated in a list of Things To Do that include going to space. I would also have missed heading out to Ikea in Red Hook, Brooklyn (for the first time!) and exploring the contaminated wasteland around it:
At the New York Film Festival, I would have missed a message from The Other Side of Hope: We will never be alone in valuing diversity in humanity and wanting to help people. Oh, the caress of Arabic onscreen and memories from Syria!
On Friday, October 6, 2017, I would have missed wondering whether persuasiveness is not a greater asset than power, since the latter may be taken away for want of the former. I also would have missed interacting on Twitter with Emin Gün Sirer, whose avatar is so sexy I can hardly stand it.
As the day went on, I would have missed coffee with a law student I have been mentoring ever since he came up to me at the conclusion of a book talk I gave a couple of years ago, and noting, as I hugged him, how his frame has been filling out since we first met. And then, after Ethan Hawke did amazing things to me in the ending of First Reformed at the Film Festival, I would have missed a guy carrying his Wonder Woman’s backpack in the subway — right around the corner from where the cellist from earlier this week was setting up for another late-night performance.
On Saturday, October 7, 2017, I would have missed discovering that my little Twitter “audience” is more male than female, has nothing to do with “LGBT,” and pursues, like, a really diverse set of interests.
Reality check. I have been riding up through Piermont for nine years now. It would be difficult for me to overstate my gratitude to this project for spurring me to explore something I otherwise had not noticed all this time, and surely would have missed: the town’s very namesake, an extraordinarily long pier that stretches right out into the middle of the Hudson River.
I guess I was always just too focused on finishing the last few miles on the way to Nyack, or beginning the first leg of the 32-mile journey back home to Manhattan, all this time. I would miss these lessons in humility to look not just where I am going, but also where I have been and have yet to see. I think I weirdly also would have missed a like that comprises one of the more surreal exchanges I’ve ever experienced on social media:
Fortunately, right before that jarring event, I tumbled into a spiritually stabilizing exchange in the Russian Room with a 16-year-old boy — whose father had struck up a conversation with me about The Florida Project, of all things, right out of the blue — ranging from anarchy to cryptocurrency to the Kurdish Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) fighting ISIS in Syria, and a variety of subtopics along the way. The younger generation are extraordinary.
On Sunday, October 8, 2017, I would have missed a truly fucking LETHAL 5Rhythms dance class, in which we all ended up sliding around in pools of each other’s sweat from the intense humidity — and bouncing around in circles during Chaos — and whirling into the air in between pitter-patters during Stillness — all with a lightness of heart and body that I thought was impossible at 40. I felt like I was at the beginning of everything all over again — and in love with being here on this earth. I just love falling in love; the idea of chasing experiences that generate this sensation is so cool and almost overwhelming. At the Film Festival — which I almost cancelled on — I would have missed seeing BPM (Beats per Minute), which is among the most moving films I have ever seen. The scene where the HIV-negative guy kisses and jerks off his HIV-positive boyfriend in a hospital bed brought me to tears that well up again as I write this entry. To think that the ACT UP movement in New York inspired the ACT UP Paris movement, which a couple of decades later inspired this film, which the director brought to New York to a roaring and sobbing standing ovation that I got to be a part of… it all feels so unreal and special, especially now, when responding with art to all this crap — politics and nationalism and cynicism and corruption and kleptocracy and the ongoing torrent of immorality and lack of respect for humanity — is imperative.
On Monday, October 9, 2017, I would have missed the extraordinary sensation of sending a message out the ether — and then receiving a response.
I would also have missed Daniel Kahneman encapsulating the human condition, within the context of rewarding people for good performance and punishing them for a subsequent regression to the mean (which, he argues, is inevitable).
How humbling to consider that our responses to individual results are often misplaced because “performance” depends so much on luck and a departure — one way or the other — from whatever average is operative, even if we are blind. It would have been a shame to miss a childhood friend’s reply (from a Guillermo del Toro quote) to my Facebook post that I am now convinced that life begins at 40:
To be sure, I would have missed determining that the correct direction for me is the one that leads to the greatest serendipity while enabling me to contribute the most I can to society. At least now I have somewhere to head. And — oh yes — I’d have missed talking with the Gypsies at the Baths and the two men (including a saliva-inducing Italian) who have looked just more and more dynamite ever since their shitty relationships reportedly ended over the last year or so.
On Tuesday, October 10, 2017, I would have missed, for the third consecutive day, reclaiming my morning — and my brain and my spirit and my life — from the Internet. I now wait until after I have completed my morning reading, thinking, idea writing, yoga and cardio routine before I check everything. Sunday and Monday were imbued with a sense of calmness; though on Tuesday anxiety welled up giving rise to skepticism and alarm — which led me to wonder whether I was writhing through some sort of withdrawal. Eleven to twelve hours unplugged seems to be ideal; eight feels like the minimum necessary to maintain balance. I would have missed realizing that Monday I had forgotten entirely to check my “compulsives” — various metrics measuring from book sales to Facebook likes to Twitter favs to website visit statistics — and the sense of freedom that followed. Yeah so anyway it would have sucked to miss this quote from Nassim Taleb: “When you walk the walk, whether successful or not, you feel more indifferent and robust to people’s opinion, freer, more real.” And likewise this one from Daniel Kahneman: “The ultimate test of an explanation is whether it would have made the event predictable in advance.” Though perhaps not as much as this view from the roof that I was lucky enough to catch on one of the whims that this project has encouraged:
In the dry sauna at the Baths, I’d have missed talking with a group of guys — that writer for The New Yorker from before and two newer ones — about men and women… and also this project — in which the youngest one seemed quite interested. He had several questions, climaxing in: Where did I get the idea from? — to which I explained that I had tried everything else and was just desperate. It was not until twelve hours later — from a cousin’s post — that I learned October 10th is World Mental Health Day. Word up.
On Wednesday, October 11, 2017, I would have missed a much bigger day than I felt while plodding through. In the morning there was pondering how the world makes more sense when I accept it makes no sense — and whether money in the bank is worth less than the capacity to make more? The afternoon was about taking some time off for my mental health (see, e.g., the previous entry) and plunging into despair. At the nadir of that bottomless well appeared two passages from A Little Life — the first of which I had highlighted on the first read; the second of which I had not. The first one — “He experienced the singular pleasure of watching people he loved fall in love with other people he loved.” — overwhelmed me, quite suddenly, with anguish over how my life is not working. And then came the second:
It was only at this point that my consciousness acknowledged how profoundly the book had influenced my own next writing project — To Whom I Could Have Been: A True Love Story — even more than I thought: it was a search for the very moment when life changed forever. I would have missed hoping to meet Hanya Yanagihara so I can follow up on our e-mail exchange last year and tell her this story in person one day. It’d have been a bummer to miss receiving my eighth crypto retainer, and, later on at the Baths, pointing out to a man that he had just interrupted me to explain the hurdles women face and likewise that his response to this observation was consistent with obliviousness to the very social conditioning he had succumbed to.
On Thursday, October 12, 2017, I would have missed what I nearly wrote was a day that I just sort of went through, without much thought of how I would characterize it in retrospect. But then I realize that I did indeed make a couple of notes, beginning with this highlight in A Little Life:
The passage had stuck with me intact from the first reading — perhaps because I have always wondered what it might be like to experience this form of love in my own life, and still do. Though perhaps I have experienced it but just failed to notice because I am such an ingrate. Periodically I wonder when I became such a terrible person and whether it might be possible to somehow go back to when I had potential to be otherwise: as I was heading down the subway stairs after jail, angry that a very heavyset woman was taking her time waddling down and causing a foot-traffic build-up, all of a sudden a man heading up took the suitcase she was lugging (which I hadn’t bothered to see) and helped her descend. I wanted to crawl into a hole and be alone with self-loathing — but then I would have missed the inspiration to try a bit harder to be of service to the world, without judgment, and with softer eyes. Bitcoin blasted past $5,000 to nearly $5,900, which prompted me to express my thoughts just one more time:
This will be my last bitcoin post on Facebook (though I might still write a bit on general crypto matters as they relate to life and geopolitics from time to time).
It is impossible to know whether we are experiencing “hyperbitcoinization” — that is, the transition to a cryptocurrency-based economy, just another spike in prices along the way, the bubble bursting, another growth spurt — or something else altogether. But one thing seems undeniable: there is something going on. It remains my fervent hope that society will soon adopt blockchain technology enabling peer-to-peer financial transactions, so that we can go ahead and remove the parasitic and antiquated middlemen and bankers and well-heeled charlatans that have wrecked our world time and again only to come begging for bailouts from their victims: all of us. I for one am disgusted with all that, and I have had it. Call me a dreamer; I’d love to just see, even if only fleetingly, a reality where Revolution may be possible — knowing full well how bumpy the road will likely get. For me, the experiment is a political statement, a belief structure, an ideal — whatever — at least it’s something. Of course it could all come crashing down tomorrow, or the next day, or the next — as Yogi Berra observed, it’s difficult to make predictions, especially about the future — but the trip sure will have offered some interesting scenery along the way.
On Friday, October 13, 2017, I would have missed another day during which I thought nothing would happen, but then it did. I started my morning with Montaigne — whom I have been meaning to read all these years. And then came another breakthrough in a crypto project that presented me with this reminder: the simplest solution is so often the correct one — yet refinement is a process taking time and effort that cannot be shortcut. The solution is the shortcut. Did life become too easy, or have I just been missing its simplicity this whole time? As long as I can think, I’ll remember suing all those banks for racketeering as a baby lawyer, when the project hit what looked from all angles like a wall… until I discovered a loose brick… at which point the edifice came crumbling down to reveal a fraud, the extent and scope of which remains almost majestic in its evil and destructive magnitude. Call me crazy, but I would have missed recalling that justice is an illusory palliative for the masses, for it is but for the experience of humanity’s underbelly that allows me to be a better lawyer on behalf of my clients. On the heels of this journeyful day, I would have missed an epic evening at the Baths: a conversation with a friend who videoed me for her company’s art and advocacy project; a discussion about technology, our future and what memory is with a guy in the dry sauna; and a piercing romp into bitcoin with a young man whose facial bone structure is so extraordinary (“You’re so good-looking it’s almost disconcerting,” I said, to which he replied, “You are, too.”) that I began to wonder whether I credited his insights and questions all the more because of the physical beauty he possesses. Even so — he remembered me by sight from before; I only remembered him after he reminded me. That defense mechanism of forgetting men is really something.
On Saturday, October 14, speaking of reminiscence, I would have missed stumbling upon a passage in Montaigne about memory and Plato, and remembering — or, learning again — that Mnemeosyne, the goddess of memory, is mother of the nine Muses, who are, of course, a source of human inspiration through the ages. I similarly would have missed wending through a Google search that reminded me — or, taught me, again — that Ali is attributed with saying that God created desire in ten parts and gave nine to women and one to men. Is it not memory that gives birth to language itself, so that remembrance makes us who we are and predicates our relationships with others? Montaigne distinguishes between memory and understanding, and then observes: “…for experience, rather, daily shows us, on the contrary, that a strong memory is commonly coupled with infirm judgement.” Would I ever grow close to anyone ever again were I to lose the ability to forget what happens when I do? The point here is I would have missed: (1) ambling toward the conclusion that cryptocurrency has the capacity to fight corruption in politics — by protecting taxpayers and holding governments accountable — through transparency; (2) deciding that bias from the vested interests of crypto proponents may be exceeded by bias from the vested interest of critics; and, (3) puzzling over this proposition from Kahneman: You know you have made a theoretical advance when you can no longer reconstruct why you failed for so long to see the obvious. And, on that note, I would have missed my first Twitter skirmish:
It will be instructive to re-approach his work with this exposed worldview in mind. How much validity will that perspective of his on human behavior hold? You know, other people’s opinions are a prison. Oh, the dread! I would have missed escaping it — and sort of everything else in the world — via Kate Winslet’s transcendence in Woody Allen’s new movie:
On Sunday, October 15, 2017, I would have missed that magical moment when fall is in the air yet it’s still warm enough to cycle in a short-sleeved jersey, and the first red leaves have appeared amidst a sea of green on River Road.
I also would have missed a find that the antennae I’ve grown from this project led me to: a hidden stone wall running along what appeared to be a decades-overgrown road down to stairs that, in turn, led to a tunnel I had ridden over hundreds of times but never seen before.
Back in the City, I would have missed walking among memories and realizing that they populate my New York as much as reality does — for I have lived here long enough that the lines between now and what has been have blurred. Confession: for October 14th, I meant to include a photo from a church that I went inside for the first time — after exploring the Actors’ Chapel for the first time, as well — on my way to the Film Festival.
It only occurred to me later — after remembering that I had forgotten — how I have been ducking into places of worship all around the world ever since I was a teenager — in search of the same seed within that seeks nourishment and light as I write these entries now.
On Monday, October 16, 2017, I would have missed being much less perturbed by the totally uncontrolled three-year-olds in the row behind me on the flight to LA than most of my neighbors appeared to be — particularly a woman who had been talking at full volume on speaker phone about (entertainment) Industry stuff on the tarmac prior to takeoff. Is this project also helping with equanimity? En route to the spa in Ktown, I’d have missed a long phone call with Mom that made me feel much better afterward, despite the length of it resulting in the decision to forego a massage — which I ended up getting anyway from some guy at Whole Foods who had a massage chair set up near the cash registers! He was even more fortuitous than whichever masseuse I’d have ended up with because I needed a man’s touch. I would have missed letting myself go and pretending that his fingers on my neck were those of a lover I knew and trusted and who would be there for me and hold me and not let me go as I soared away into a sky where dreams are made, just like I used to back when I’d speed down Highway 1 after visiting my best friend from childhood when he was going to school at UC Santa Cruz, blaring Closer by Nine Inch Nails until I hit 100 mph, at which point everything shitty that I had ever gone through dissipated — if only for a moment — in the sunlight. The depression was very bad afterward, quite shatteringly — with the fantasy of blowing my brains out overtaking me all in an instant — so, I especially would have missed how swiftly my mind turned back to this project, and what I may have to look forward to tomorrow, and the next day, and the next…
On Tuesday, October 17, 2017, I would have missed a soft, luscious day that began with this observation by Montaigne: “[W]e are insensible of the stroke when our youth dies in us, though it be really a harder death than the final dissolution of a languishing body, than the death of old age…” The period of creativity that begins about an hour into my reclaimed morning practice — which I now call POV=P time (Protected + Open + Valued = Perspective) — has become so fecund that the entire world appears ahead of me and all I have to care about for that window of time is art, truth and beauty. I also would have missed a nice run through the mountains across the street from my house, and being retweeted by CoinDesk — although, on second thought, I’m not really sure how much I would have missed thus becoming a target for every crypto hacker in the world:
Twitter is not entirely useless because without it I’d have missed an Arthur Miller quote from the Economist that sums up life nicely: “Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets.” I may fall short in thinking about — let alone conveying here — how much I would miss my work if I were dead. Tinkering away on one of my crypto projects and producing some work product I’ve been spending time and effort on — particularly within a space where we are all writing the law as the future unfolds — is so immensely gratifying. How often does a person get to do something like that in life? Yeah so anyway at Food-4-Less, I would have missed taking the time to laugh with a young cashier when I came back to my pile of groceries after dashing back for the bottle of vinegar that had been my main objective. I mentioned that scene in The Weather Man where Nicolas Cage’s wife reminds him NOT TO FORGET THE TARTAR SAUCE and he mutters TARTAR SAUCE TARTAR SAUCE TARTAR SAUCE all the way around the corner to the street vendor and then, right as he orders, promptly forgets the tartar sauce — and the young cashier totally got it and we bonded and smiled at each other goodbye because of our shared bond in the Human Experience. I would have missed going back to pay for my pear after dinner at Whole Foods because I put it in my bag before the food bar and then forgot about it, and I also would have missed the first conversation I have ever had in detail with One of the Loves of My Life about my recovery from sex addiction. You’d think he might have asked about it at the time I first told him back when we were falling in love, or at some point over the eight interminable roller coaster years since. I would not have missed his suggestion that we set up a threesome nearly so much as the ability — at long last — to laugh him off. I would have missed a Mexican-American Art exhibit with My Dear Baby-Faced Lawyer Friend at the MAK Center in the extraordinarily unique Schindler House — replete with concrete floors and walls and low-beamed ceilings and exposed bathroom pipes and copper smoke chutes jutting up from fireplaces on the floor. We sat outside in perfectly temperate Los Angeles evening air that carried us like clouds through our conversation about sex and crypto and markets and real estate. I talked with the Handsome Hraffiti Remover all the way home — and felt relieved he was on the line when I walked in the front door and saw the bathroom light sensor had somehow activated — perhaps with the wind rustling the curtain door — for, in that instant when my heart jumped a little, simply hearing a man’s voice out there somewhere felt reassuring.
On Wednesday, October 18, 2017, while reading Montaigne, I would have missed gaining some perspective with respect to the perniciousness of overreliance on custom. I would also have missed curling up into a ball on a chaise lounge outside the women’s sauna and steam room at the Club and falling into a much-needed doze. Afterward I would have missed the Handsome Graffiti Remover greeting me with a kiss and a hug at Whole Foods and getting to talk to someone over dinner instead of eating alone again.
On Thursday, October 19, 2017, I would have missed a rather sudden illness reminding me to value the health in which I so often live. I would have missed sleeping well over half of the 36 hours leading up to when I awoke today (October 20th, as I write this entry), and the spate of vivid dreams that my brain led me though, expunging all sorts of demons and wild, repressed images and thoughts that were, I think, weighing me down and depressing me. At several points throughout the day, in between mildly violent but somehow relieving naps, I thought of having talked with the Handsome Graffiti Remover — as we walked down Seventh and turned onto Olive — about how scientists have estimated there is a one in 400,000,000,000,000 of being born. Even getting sick is part of winning a lottery that, as a practical matter, might as well be impossible.
On Friday, October 20, 2017, I would have missed the gratitude of being able to go on my morning run through the mountains again, and for living in a time and place and having the resources to visit a doctor who put my mind at rest about my illness. Society would be better if every human being enjoyed that baseline. There is also the matter of that particular ENT guy — whom I have now seen twice in the last year. MotherFUCKER is he cute. And you know also there is the issue of sitting in the examination chair as he crosses his arms and leans against the countertop with his crotch at my eye level. DOES HE OMG NOT WEAR A WEDDING RING ON PURPOSE. I would have missed drifting into slumber on the heated marble floor at the spa — followed by another very full night of rest. I could not be gladder that my body realized how much I needed all these dreams.
On Saturday, October 21, 2017, I would have missed beginning my day with a proposition from Kahneman: “The memory that the remembering self keeps . . . is a representative moment, strongly influenced by the peak and the end.” His idea seems to be that we remember the peaks of experiences and their ends over their duration and the valleys and so on along the way. How does his theory interact with the process of journaling everyday? Is this project a mapping of peaks and valleys, or the creation of them, or perhaps a bit of both? And how does it differ from writing a memoir — which delves into retrospect further from real time — through recounting and reconstruction? I feel that, if anything, this blook (blog + book) constitutes a sort of training to seek sustained positive stimuli, that is, mental exercise and conditioning geared toward activities, patterns and tendencies that will make me feel better for longer despite how I may feel right now. Can we change our biology to favor sustained gratification over delayed gratification, even after we have surpassed instant gratification as the endgame? I would have missed seeing Blade Runner 2049 with the Handsome Graffiti Remover, although I would not have missed his ineptitude — for the second time — in securing tickets that I was able to order in 30 seconds. Why is it so incredibly difficult to find a man on this earth who is well-balanced and can function?
If this project speaks to you, please feel free to donate in crypto. Thank you for reading.