Lye and Vinegar

(Just like old times, eh?)

Tyler licks his lips until they’re gleaming wet. He takes Jack’s hands and KISSES the back of it.

I figured it out.

I had too much want.

The saliva shines in the shape of the kiss. Tyler pours a bit of the flaked lye onto Jack’s hand.

I started out selflessly — doing without expecting, giving not to receive, working not for reward1 — because all I wanted was to live in the moment, to experience as much as I could while it lasted. Eventually, that turned into a desire, a belief that I couldn’t live without what (or whom) I wanted.

One could call it love.

The old me would have blamed myself for falling into that trap, but I’ve since recognized that I’m human. That I’m prone to falling, especially when I’m so amorously intoxicated.

Jack’s whole body JERKS. Tyler holds tight to Jack’s hand and arm. Tears well in Jack’s eyes; his face tightens.

Now that I’m able to stand back and recognize my longing, and I can also see how much that longing that was starting to tear me down.

It’s like in Fight Club, when Tyler Durden is about to pour lye on Jack’s hand. Jack already knows he’s going to die; it’s an undeniable reality we all come to realize as we grow out of childhood, yet are rarely forced to deal with (or even embrace). For Jack, that reality doesn’t truly sink in until he’s faced with the chemical burn on his body.

Jack, snapping back, tries to jerk his hand away. Tyler keeps hold of it and their arms KNOCK UTENSILS off the table.

I was told it was over before it started, but that reality didn’t sink in until recently. It’s taken this long because I dared to dream of something greater, and a large part of me didn’t want to give up the wonderful memories. Unfortunately, those memories are mixed and inseparable from everything else that’s been holding me back. The fact that I think too much doesn’t help either.

At some point, I realized that I simply had to let go. Truly let go.

Tyler finally says to Jack:

Listen, you can run water over your hand and make it worse or, look at me, or you can use vinegar and neutralize the burn. First you have to give up, first you have to know — not fear — know — that someday you’re gonna die.

I used to think I had lost something special, but now I have no desires and nothing left to lose. It’s like I’m starting back where I was two years ago, which really wasn’t a bad place to be. The world is finally lucid and clear.

Now I know, and it feels like happiness.

Congratulations. You’re a step closer to hitting bottom.

  1. Readers of the Tao Te Ching will recognize this language. There’s so much of this Taoist idea of paradox and contradiction in Fight Club. []


    • Agreed. One Taoist quote I like is “Perfect happiness is to be without happiness”, when everything evens out.

  1. I could read & watch Fight Club everyday … so much meaning.

  2. it has been about 8 months or so since we talked last, and i seem to always to fall back to some of my favorite entries to keep me sane. it makes me wish that i could be so lucky to be one of your friends ( which fills me with a sense of jealousy ) so that i could peer a little deeper into the confines of your mind. then again i realize that it would leave you in a state of vulnerability if i were able to, but it doesn’t hurt to dream.

    it just makes it seem that you are still keeping something hidden, something safe and close to the heart, and i wonder from time to time what it might be. You write about your mother and the raw emotions connected to bits and pieces of your life so openly… what else is there to password protect?

    but some memories are better left untouched, unseen.

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