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. []

4 comments

    • 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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