There are some stark differences between myself today and myself from 2007. I didn't have a dog in 2007. This is the first thing that comes to mind which, more than anything, should tell you the state of that mind. I didn't have a house. Both of these things (dog, house) happened in early 2008.
So in 2007, I was on the precipice of a new life—a new life of dogs and houses.
In 2007, I had never been to a dog park.
In 2007, I had not yet started a multi-year habit of getting drunk every day.
In 2007, mowing a lawn was something I had not done in 20 years.
Even though I wrote on the Internet nearly every day in 2007, I had not yet published an essay, much less a book. In 2007, I still didn't know what to write about. I did not understand that I had to first write about shame in order to write about the rest. Instead, I opted mostly for humor. Also, I fictionalized my life as a way to talk about the hard things. I avoided altogether the very hard things.
I actually wrote about March 22nd on my blog ten years ago.
It was an eventful day, full of eventful things. A bathroom renovation was happening. There was an imminent trip to Japan. Reading that post, for me, is like looking at a different person. I look at that person and I have a sense of knowing better now. A sense of knowing nothing then. Every "looking back" is like that: a clarity and a confusion.
Ten years ago is only as far away as some words on a page.
Ten years ago still feels like today.
Ten years ago feels like it never happened.
But the truth of it is this: ten years ago will go on happening forever.
I was listening to a lot of Soul Coughing in 2007. (Speaking of "Past Ten," I was about ten years behind that curve.) Irresistable Bliss. Ruby Vroom. El Oso.
One of the songs that would have come across my iPod playlist over and over again is "So Far I have Not Found the Science."
The thing I like about Soul Coughing—the thing, possibly, that I like about all music—is repetition. Circles and circling. Repeating musical patterns and verses.
And yet, within that repetition, slight change. A variation.
Ritual and improvisation: This is the key to all music. To all art. This is maybe the key to all life.
It's pretty close to a goddamned science.
In a post-quantum-physics world, one where time, in theory at least, is nonlinear, and we can theoretically circle back to moments the same way we open an email from ten years ago or read an old blog post, one way scientists have used to explain, or to prove, the one-way arrow of time is to use entropy.
Over time, a system—molecules, closets, human bodies, buildings cities, continents, and planets—these things move from a less chaotic state to a more chaotic state, from order to disorder.
It does not move the other way, no matter how much we wish it were so.
Molecules do not become more ordered.
A drawer does not become more organized.
A body does not become more healthy.
Continents, families, people—they do not become more attached.
My mom began losing her mind sometime in 2008. At least, that’s when it became noticeable.
So for me, everything during or before 2007 involved her voice.
Everything after 2007 was a different voice.
Then, in 2011, it disappeared altogether.
One night in 2011, when I was sitting next to her in a nursing home facility, she told me that she could hear music. A song. Repeating. Over and over. “Do you hear it?” she asked me.
I didn't hear music that night. But that doesn't mean music wasn't there. I believe my mom did hear music. And I wonder what music it was. I wonder if it was a song she'd heard one hundred times before. If it was, I bet it sounded to her the same it always had. I bet it was the same as the first time she’d ever heard it. Except somehow different. Because she was different.
A song has no entropy. The corporeal embodiment of the song—cassette tapes, records, silicon, computers, phones, speakers—these things do. They have entropy. They move from an ordered state to a disordered state like every other physical thing. Like our bodies. And that gradual decay might affect the quality of the song to our ears. But the song itself is not what breaks down.
The song itself is eternal. The song itself is endlessly repeating. It is the same song, every time. And yet, sometimes it sounds different to us.
The same goes for us. Our consciousness. Our spirit. It is the same spirit. It just doesn’t always feel the same. It’s why ten years ago can feel as close as today. And also why ten years ago can feel as far away as if it never happened at all.
We are all of us seeking out a science.
We are all of us studying systems, following rituals, and getting blown away by variations.
We are all of us songs.
We are all of us finding new universes, new bodies, new formats, to play in.
My life feels much more disordered now than it did in 2007. So does my mind. And yet, I have greater clarity of vision than I did then, even though I have to remove my glasses to read my prescriptions, or beer-bottle labels.
In many ways, I have a greater sense of wholeness and identity than I did in 2007. I can see how I am the same me but with a slew of new variations and changes.
I still listen to Soul Coughing. And "So Far I Have Not Found the Science" still plays on my device, now a phone.
That song hasn't changed. But I have.
I am losing my mind. My brain is breaking down, a product of entropy. I hope when I lose my mind for good, I will have a few loved ones around to notice it and help me through it. I hope this, even though I know it will crush them.
David Olimpio grew up in Texas, but currently lives and writes in Northern New Jersey. He believes that we create ourselves through the stories we tell, and that is what he aims to do every day. He is the author of THIS IS NOT A CONFESSION (Awst Press, 2016) and the Editor-in-Chief of Atticus Review. Usually, you can find him driving his truck around the Garden State with his dogs. He has been published in Barrelhouse, The Nervous Breakdown, The Austin Review, Rappahannock Review, Crate, and others. You can find more about him at davidolimpio.com, including links to his writing and photography. He Tweets, Instagrams, and Tumbles as @notsolinear.
David encourages you to learn more about Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood is a respected leader in educating Americans about reproductive and sexual health. We deliver comprehensive sex education that empowers all people to make informed choices and lead healthy lives. Visit plannedparenthood.org.