That’s what he said


Back in the 90s, I discovered Tim Sandlin, an amazing author. I own almost all of his books and I’ve read then more than once. (As a side note, I found another amazing author, T.R. Pearson at the same time. He wrote A Short History of a Small Place, which is still a book that makes me feel happy just to think about it.) His main characters are usually fuck-ups, in the sense that they think too much, make bad decisions with a sense of humor and sarcasm, and struggle to find their way in the world.

In a matter of a few sentences he was able to capture what I’d been trying to put into words for years:

“Sometimes in life we experience moments in which it doesn’t matter that we’re going to die someday. We escape time by living right now, past and future cease to exist. These moments of present awareness are all that matters, all that justifies existence. Usually I get this feeling of being alive now in nature or listening to music or something independent, but it’s possible to find the present with another person. To share reality– that’s the greatest thing that can happen to a human.”

I don’t know that it would be possible for me to live in a constant state of present awareness, but I would certainly like to spend more time in the present and not so much in my mind. But to me this is more than just being aware. It’s about an actual visceral feeling I get where I realize how insignificant i am in the grand scheme of things. It give me the perspective I can lack when I’m so wrapped up in my own life. To me this is the moments that I have when I’m outside in the late at night in summer time. There’s a sort of otherworldliness about how silent it is. Even the most mundane noises at night seem a little more magical.

It’s this, from another book I loved: “The moon, climbing so slowly that no one notices, shines down on Main Street. It casts a deep shadow on one side of the street and an eerie brightness on the other, where the sidewalk is bone-white and the little glass windows of the parking meters glisten as if they are wet.”

It’s like existing in a world where the usual things that occupy so much of my day are gone and there’s nothing but the perspective of stars. And in the moments that it’s happening, nothing matters other than being there and the incredible sense of perspective. It’s so not the way I usually am, but I’ve consistently had this same response to being outdoors at night. I’m alone because no one else seems interested in the idea so I can’t really speak to what it would be like to be there with another human. Music is another way that I have these transcendental moments, although just as fleeting. Sharing an amazing song with someone is probably the closest I will ever come to finding the present with another human.


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