the intensity of wanting to let yourself be known

Geoffrey Lewis
5 min readJun 24


woke up from a dream where I was handling some profound material — an old friend reappeared, Tim U., a fascinating figure — i found a box of his old books and journals; there was an ex-girlfriend, and graphic pictures of her having face tattoos removed; in a van driving somewhere, i had to ask the driver to turn down the country music (he didn’t turn it down enough at first) because a friend of Tim’s was doubtful I knew how to handle this material; I began telling him how I’ve spent my life, shut off and tortured by the past, images, memories of women and what I’d done to them, how they suffered and stalled due to my selfish hand, and then the shame when they moved on, succeeded conventionally, are still doing well, and I am not, no money to my name, no clear path into a career that will support me and enable me to have a family; every waking thought about money and labor and how I spend my life—accepting poverty and being a pauper, scraping by paycheck to paycheck

Tim U. joined the military, air force; David Whyte’s poem for Boeing about wind and wings, how air holds the plane’s weight; (baseball growing up, my other friend Jack S., and the ADHD comfort of just throwing strikes, hitting a target; expand this to all men, and how the older generation can’t retire, because no one knows what to do with their time except keep hitting targets, make a number go up, scratch what itches, empty what’s full, read what’s unread, do what’s undone—we are undone, by loss. Tim U’s father’s death was hard on him but I hadn’t talked to or seen him in years—we were close and he disappeared, Utah I think. Maybe a redemption story is necessary, something compelling, a search…for redemption; the great passion and mystery here is the redemption of the earth in the human heart, how the quiet internal resonates with the vast cosmos above, stretching infinitely out. The vastness, our smallness, how brief life is yet how long the day is, how capable we are of making amends with family, the mystery of love and forgiveness, understanding, coming back together, reunion. There was a breakage: was it my own parents’ marriage? How they gave up? And now I have no North Star, no compass, and all I have are the wounds and shames I’ve gathered on the way? In person I am quiet about this and don’t mention it, running mostly on fear (of running out of money) and charm, before my hair falls out and teeth yellow and gut expands and I’m just another shitty old white man who won’t survive the purge when the woke left AI tech billionaire bank worshippers take control of the genome and the global real-time dashboard of neurons and limbs, all our performances monitored and measured, and egomania will meet eugenics and choices will get made about who stays and who goes, who’s worthy…and we’ll think of our fathers and our exes, and discard the faces who don’t remind us of home.

Home means trust, relief, support, not being afraid (of taxes, of homelessness, of hunger—needs taken care of. A provider and protector. Could machines becomes the mothers and fathers? All depends on the programmers and their mothers and fathers, and the ideal they’re sculpting at their terminal, how they’re making the internal external, how they’re trying to be good, good enough to avoid punishment, to earn praise, to get the prize of money, or they don’t think about it like that—they aren’t obsessed with redemption; they aren’t poets. But using and writing these words won’t save me (oh no! Steer him back toward the light! He’s devolving and spiraling into self-doubt again! Yes, even him who was above it, never prone, and probably still thinks this is art! Oh no! Separation and dissociation! He’s now watching himself as if an observer! Holy bifurcation! I take no reader through the waves of this oscillated, modulated dream; who knows how many will stick around for my Stories. Funny, the story I tell myself of who’s there; but isn’t everyone this “I” after a certain age? We are all the same and there’s no one else to tell, there’s no winning the game of Instagram growth and metrics, there’s just this day, another one, to decide all over again how to be yourself in the world, whether to write in a dim room or emerge, start making calls, or find a way to show up for others. Life’s most urgent question remains, “What are you doing for others?” What good is all this self-awareness?

Benjamin Franklin’s daily routine was grounded by the questions of “what good shall I do today” and “what good did I do today?” What you remember saves you; how you remember is who you are. Our fate is to remember: to bring the members back together. Reunion of the external in the shape of the felt internal. Life is about feeling and feeling so much; the artist is most alive when overwhelmed by all she has to say. Saying everything + the internet = media spectacle forever; I wonder who pays, how to generate security out of this constant bleeding. Maybe no such security exists, via entrapments of taxes, wealth, cleverness, homeownership, advancement up the hierarchy—it’s all just meetings and dreads; the Senior Director and the homeless drug addict probably worry equally. The question (or one question) is do I want to know; would I actually go ask, or would I rather just guess, rather than try and confirm scientifically (welp, there goes grad school again) my hypotheses and theories; maybe my ongoing talking is not meant to end, not meant to be a conversation anyone else can enter. At least I hear myself. Do you hear yourself?

“To be an artist means: not to calculate and count; to grow and ripen like a tree which does not hurry the flow of its sap and stands at ease in the spring gales without fearing that no summer may follow. It will come. But it comes only to those who are patient, who are simply there in their vast, quiet tranquility, as if eternity lay before them. It is a lesson I learn every day amid hardships I am thankful for: patience is all!”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

“So now, whenever I despair, I no longer expect my end, but some bit of luck, some commonplace little miracle which, like a glittering link, will mend again the necklace of my days.”
― Colette, The Vagabond


it is easy to commit to voicing the stories my body holds—but wait, before another descent into self-protection,

“Nothing is more tedious than self-concern”

what i cannot escape via creative productivity: we are here, we are real, we are all we have

we must love [capitalism] our way out and somehow dismantle oppressive systems/thoughts while living

thoughts while living
would be a fine title for something
if we needed any finished work