I’ve had an epiphany. It’s interesting how it always seems to be the things that you have heard so many times in your life that are the most profound statements ever made. But only after you have made the mistake of not listening to them and living through the most unfortunate events that have caused you to come to the same conclusion. This is not the epiphany that I came upon whilst in the comforting embrace – of which those less artistically intoned might refer to as the terrifying grip – of the audible melodrama that is Beethoven’s Symphony number 5, which is probably one of the most interesting devices ever composed. Never mind the cliché of that song, it just has an epiphanic quality to it.
I heard this music while I was in an upscale art gallery in downtown Langley, which might have gone to compliment the phenomenon in the visual realm with an amazing piece of art – if only my eyes had been open. Which, of course, they were not.
If my eyes had been open, this is what they would have seen:
My eyes were closed at that moment because that is what they like to do whenever they hear a piece of music so inexorably linked to the meaning of life, that even my ears have a hard time staying open. Since it is that my ears had the situation well under control, my eyes decided, nobody would miss them if they just shut themselves for a few incredibly tense minutes. It was either that, they aptly reckoned with experience, or remain open, agape, and awestruck as if seeing the nude feminine form for the very first time.
It could be argued that my eyes made the right decision to just shut themselves.
Anyways, there I was in the posh art gallery, listening to this amazing song, when I had an amazing epiphany. The proverbial and almost biblical statement that went through my mind at that moment was something that so many people had tried to get me to wrap my head around so many times before: art is something that should never be forced.
Art is something that comes from within the very soul of the artist himself. That is not to say that the individual will ever be talented enough to tap into his artistic potential. That is to say that someone who is meant to be a painter might never learn how to paint, or a sculptor to sculpt. Or even, in the furthest reaches of the galaxy, where mathematics is thought of as an art form – like it is here, hence the planet earth being on the edge of the galaxy – a man who would be a beautiful mathematician might never even learn the art of math. Or maths. The thing is, that if these untalented individuals were to learn how to create in their proper medium, then they would make the world around them so much more beautiful.
When it was, in my life, that I tended to refer to myself as a photographer – I was wrong. I was wrong to call myself a photographer because I was merely using photography as a means to an end, and never as a profession of the very inner being of my soul. This is why nobody ever looked at a piece of my art and said “that is beautiful.” Because it wasn’t. It was a horrid representation of how my life had been manipulated by a commercialized society that told me from birth exactly what it was that I should expect from life, which is lots of money. Since it was that I never really was a photographer to begin with, I am now cursed with the eternal abject disdain of the people who are now starting to call my work beautiful. The Peanut Gallery, God’s bemusing exhibit in this posh art gallery makes me laugh every time I see it.
Anyways, there I was. I had just had an epiphany. You can’t force art. I was never a photographer. I have never been, will never be, am not, will not be able to be, do not want to be, have not wanted to be, hitherto am most assuredly NOT a photographer. I am no more a photographer than a sheep dog is an actual sheep. To be able to say this relieves me to no end, and it almost makes me want to learn how to be a real photographer, because I am quite sure that I would like it. The most amazing piece of art that I had ever created had been a few pathetic stick figures on a piece of paper that I had used as fire starter months ago. The piece was something that I doodled in a notebook in class one day to cope with some flashbacks I had had about my time in the jungle.
I walked out of that gallery, and went up the street into the pizzeria, which was remodeled last year to make room for a whole new bar area, doubling the floor space and the capacity. There were more people in this place than I knew lived on this island. But that was fine, I hadn’t been in there for a year and a half. I met Ben Haggerty in this place, did you know that? Or, as the strapping gentleman calls himself now, Macklemore. I ordered two slices of pizza and a soft drink.
There I was again, in Village Pizzeria, starting out the window at all the Christmas decorations along First Street, thinking about my epiphany, and starting to write this blog post on a napkin that I got from the bar, when an amazing thought struck me: I still had to go pee.
I was in the restroom walking to the tall urinal. You know, one of those ones that goes all the way from the floor to your chest? I walked up to it, and prepared to commune with nature. Just as I was about to do so, however, I looked down. There it was – the most interesting thing that I have ever seen at the bottom of a tall urinal.
The extent of the strange things that I have seen at the bottom of tall urinals up to that point of time in my life had existed of things that had somehow originated from within the restroom itself. Those round things that the blind guy in Boondock Saints throws around while having a conversation with William Dafoe… yes I have seen many of those. I have seen paper towels, plastic things, beard hairs, other hairs, toilet paper, and even regurgitation in these types of urinals before. Lots of gross and unspeakable things as well. Items for sexual pleasure and protection. But never once had I ever seen a bucket of ice at the bottom of a tall urinal in a public restroom.
So, there I was, again. Rescuing myself from a tangent, again. Thinking about the ice in the bottom of the tall urinal as I relieved myself. Wondering what possible impact that this ice could have on my mental stability when suddenly it hit me. The ice must have been from a champagne bucket. Indicating that either the party was over for all the right reasons, or, more likely, all the wrong ones. The ice was a metaphor that just so happened to be at the bottom of a tall urinal: I am not in control of anything that happens around me.
I went to the sink, and stared into the eyes of the man in the mirror. Two epiphanies in one hour. That has got to be a world record, I thought.
The man in the mirror just stared right back at me. I saw the slight formation of wrinkles on his forehead. Were those gray hairs? Or were they just grey hairs on the head of some poor Fenian bastard whose lost his way? His face didn’t have any emotion to it, really. It was just a face, but those eyes. Those eyes were piercing. The things that they had seen made it hard for them not to pierce. They were made of death and mayhem, and they were born out of a rebirth in the jungles. The man who had gone into that jungle will never be the same, no matter how much I try to get back to whoever it is that I was before. I can never be the same.
As I turned on the sink, all of the long-held emotions that I had been holding back came flooding out of my pathetic eyeballs with the tap water. Actually, that’s not what happened. I wish it did, but it didn’t. I didn’t cry, I couldn’t. I have to be strong to honor the memories of all those fallen so that I could be here today.
So, my emotions came out another way, because they were going to come out no matter what I thought about it. After wiping down the toilet seat, wiping my mouth off, and washing my hands again, I stood up, and left the restroom.
I went back to my seat where there sat a meal made by God himself. Cold pizza and Dr. Pepper.
I was getting a little tired of having epiphanies. Too many epiphanies before dinner, I rationalized. There must be some sort of limit, I thought. I wonder if I could get pulled over for being under the influence of one too many epiphanies while driving? I wondered. My mind likes to wander, if you hadn’t noticed. I think my muse is a little crazy, to tell you the truth.
Just as I was about to put this amazing, Godly creation that was a slice of cold, delicious pepperoni pizza into my mouth to take the first bite, I felt another epiphany coming on. I set the pizza down and said to it: “NO! Wait until tomorrow. Or at least another few hours and let me eat this slice of pizza in peace!” I put the pizza into my mouth and savored it. For a moment, everything was bliss. Nothing existed but myself and this pizza. I was in my castle of bliss on Cloud nine. The epiphany knocked on the door. I ignored it.
And then it hit me, like a ton of bricks.
I opened my eyes. Fuck, I whispered to myself. I picked up my pen, and began writing on the napkin. The world needed to know about this.
And it was all because of that epiphany at the bottom of a tall urinal.