CHAPTER THREE: Finito la comedia
I have a confession I dread telling you. As of this moment, I haven’t figured out the puzzle in full.
Sure, I can dazzle many by making shocking statements about the way they perceive reality. I probably know about the conscious mind more than any scientist alive, I dare declare, and can hold my weight debating with any living metaphysicist. But I don’t have the final thesis, the complete picture, the ten-page paper that I could send the journals and claim my spot amongst those who have rattled the foundation of our collective understanding as humans. As an independent explorer outside of academia, finishing that concise, written summary is key. Otherwise I got nothing; I am merely a guy who spends his time — and money — on purposeless mental masturbation.
This is yet another reason why I am writing this book. It is my intention to place the final pieces of the puzzle into place, to see it all, perfectly, once and for all. Notice the words I used — to see it all. I can’t see it. Do you get it? It’s a fucking cosmic joke. I have done my work, studied like a maniac for seven years, risked everything I have — including my life — to get the information I needed. And now that I have it, my imagery-devoid mind is unable to simply “see” the puzzle. The same unique mind that allowed me to construct the puzzle is preventing me from completing it. I am like a packman emoji, running around from one corner of the screen to the other, trying to remember what I “saw” in all areas so I can grasp the big picture. Simply put, if I could transfer all I know to someone who can see in their mind’s eye they would probably just get a vision of the whole thing in an instant. The ghosts are chasing me, and I am running out of lifelines.
And so I write.
Write towards what you don’t know, recommended Colum McCann in his excellent book Letters to a Young Writer. Trouble is, I am not young, and I am running out of time. Considering my publishing record, I am not a writer, either. My money is running out, too; but more importantly, my marriage is on the line.
I got less than five months to sort it all out before I am out of options.
It’s complicated. Life always is. Better let this actual letter, written six months ago yet never delivered, summarize the situation.
* * *
It is with a heavy heart that I write you this letter. It won’t come as a surprise to you, considering all that we have been through as of late. It is me who is surprised. I have always declared that I will not be the one to cut the cord, that you are stuck with forever, unless you choose to leave on your own accord. You threatened to leave many times, but never did; I never threatened, and here I am, leaving. Perhaps every prophetic declaration is destined to be proven wrong.
I can’t continue to live by your side under the current circumstances. You know I have tried. We both have; but we seem to be facing a brick wall. It is so frustrating for me to write this letter. It is not what I want. It is even more frustrating because I know it is not what you want, either. In fact, the situation is almost comical. We both want the same thing, and we have it right at our fingertips. It is the manner with which we need to obtain it that is causing the conflict. We are like two children who agreed to split their meal but can’t agree whether to do it with a fork or a knife.
“Finito la comedia”, were the words I told you to use the day you will decide to truly walk away. “No empty threats,” I asked. “Just say these words and I’ll know that you mean business, that you are not testing me, that it is over.” You never said them. I know that deep down you do not want us to split. We’ve been married for over ten years, and what we’ve been through can account for three lifetimes. We were meant to be together forever, one of us dying in the other one’s arms, like we always said. Was it just me? Was I a romantic who fooled himself into believing that there is nothing we cannot face? God, how much I believed it. Something broke; my resilience dissolved, my faith was breached. I am no longer convinced. In fact, for the first time since that day I met you at Tali’s house, I am convinced that my life would be better without you. How painful it is for me to write this. And why should I write it? It was tempting for me to give you a small card with the three Italian words. It would have saved us both the pain of re-living this chaos. Alas, there is something about human nature that force us to hash every possible angle before we say goodbye. Otherwise we will always wonder — could we have saved it somehow?
I guess we owe it to each other, after all that we’ve been through, to give our relationship every chance possible. I owe it to myself, too. I want to start by acknowledging that I understand your situation, your reasons, your emotions. You see, I resent you not. In fact, I understand your point of view. It makes perfect sense. Mine too, however. That’s what makes it so frustrating. Truth is subjective; we are both right.
I get it, Diane. You are twelve older than me, getting close to retirement, and you are scared. It’s been almost six years since your husband quit his job, and he hasn’t made a dime since. You haven’t even seen me try. In fact, I declared to you that it’s not time yet to deal with money. All you see in front of you is a man who is smoking marijuana habitually, has no schedule whatsoever and is spending his time doing whatever the fuck he wants twenty-four hours a day, month after month, year after year. Sure, he studies, reads shit load of books and talks a big game about some theory he is working on, some intellectual puzzle he is determined to solve. But his talk doesn’t pay the bills and he’s been talking for a long, long time. We have a large mortgage, plenty of expenses, and you stand by as you see our retirement nest — your retirement nest, as you see it — being used to finance what seems to you like a careless lifestyle.
No wonder you are freaking out.
To make things worse, your reality is proving to be the exact opposite of what you signed up for. When we met, I was a successful corporate employee, a junior executive with a bright and promising future. My bonus was more than your annual salary; I made every attempt to convince you to cease your tireless efforts to make money and just relax into the lifestyle you always wanted. You did, and somehow everything flipped. Your husband is no longer providing for you and doesn’t even seem to be concerned about it. You have been robbed of your dream. You wanted me to provide for you; you wanted to feel safe, to never again worry about money. What is happening to you is your worst nightmare. Not only you were raised by depression era parents, but your biological father died when you were six years old. Losing the provider, the money maker, is the seed of your primordial wound. Watching me waking up at 10am every day hits your right in that place where it hurts.
As I said, I get it. It was important for me to name it. I wanted you to know that I fully understand your perspective. Intellectually, not experientially. There is no way for me to feel what you feel, and I can’t even imagine what it might feel like. You are being eaten by anxiety — no, fear — no, terror. You are in sheer terror, Diane. My heart breaks for you. Sure, we still have some assets; our immediate situation is not dire. But time is ticking, and you have no indication that anything is about to change. You are fearing the future, not the present moment. You are faced with two horrible options — allow me to keep doing what I am doing, in which case you will continue to be tortured by the frightening prospects of my behavior, or leave the man you love who you thought would be at your side until death. And who wants to start over?
I know I don’t.
I am so sorry, Diane. Not for my choices, but for the fact that you had to suffer because of them. I stand behind every decision I made and continue to make. I have no other choice. You see, I am right, too. My story makes sense, too. It is all a matter of perspective. I have tried to explain to you so many times what is so important about what I do, why I study what I study, but realized that it is impossible for me to do so. Not because you are deficient in any way, but because of my shortcoming, my inability to explain it in your language. Every time you asked to understand why on earth I am so excited, I launched into a laborious speech about the current scientific thought related to human consciousness, and how the knowledge of my ancestors holds the key to the puzzle. I would go on and on, lost in Autistalk, only to see you lose interest after a minute or two. “What I have to share was not meant for your mental polarization,” I would say apologetically. But I can no longer ignore the elephant in the room, who’s trunk is pointing at me; if after all this time my own wife does not know what I do, it is I who failed to describe it succinctly and accurately; or worse — I have failed to narrow it down to a digestible measure. Worse, it might mean I myself have not mastered my domain. Not reassuring, I know. I acknowledge that this ambiguity around the purpose of my work has been the main cause of our marital challenges over the past few years, and I take the blame for that. At the same time, I can tell you that my inability to articulate it in your abstract, felt-sense, poetic language does not mean that it is worthless. It is almost 100 years later, and most people still cannot articulate Einstein’s theory of relativity, and yet it changed the world as we know it.
I know, I know… “There he goes again,” you say, “comparing himself to Freud and Einstein, while sitting in his room smoking another joint.” You saw me struggle with schedule, with discipline, with motivation; even if you believed that I have something important to say, you surely doubt my determination to say it. You called me grandiose, a talker, and downright crazy. “I live with a mad scientist,” you said. You loved me anyway. But loving me is one thing; taking care of yourself is another.
And yet, Diane, I tell you again, here and now — I know what I am doing. If you saw what I see, you’d know that money would not be an issue. It’s just a matter of time. If you only trusted me. I know, it’s been years; but six years is not a long time for a complete career change. You see, from my perspective, I am one of the most dedicated, hard working individuals I know. I think about this puzzle I am trying to solve every waking hour. I study relentlessly and tirelessly. I am working to interpret a 4500 year old map of the human psyche that I am piecing together from over fifty different sources, most of them in Hebrew and Aramaic. Do you know how complex this puzzle is? Its not like these texts are using modern language and I have only one conscious perception with which I can experiment with directly. I smoke marijuana because it allows me to temporarily shift the polarization of my psyche, which is required for my exploration and documentation. The issues I have with discipline and schedule are related directly to my own primordial wound, which obviously and conveniently reflect and presses on yours. It’s all a piece of the puzzle, don’t you see? It is only by solving it that I will overcome these challenges. In other words, what scares you the most is the barrier to what you want the most. I am obsessed with this puzzle because it has consumed me, and it has consumed me because solving this puzzle is the only way I can become all I can be. It is my destiny.
You complained about this obsession — rightfully so — saying that I did not focus my attention on you and our marriage for the last few years. I admit it, you are correct. But please understand, I couldn’t focus on anything else because I am walking a giant maze without knowing its shape or the final destination. Worse, some of the passages are in complete darkness. If I stop focusing on it, I will lose track of what I am doing, of this “picture” I am trying to assemble. You see, from my perspective, it would be easy for me to see you as selfish and self-centered. We have enough money to live for now, and my earning potential is still high; let me give this a shot! How often does one stumble upon such a treasure?! There are 15 million people in the world who can read Hebrew, and less than 500,000 who understand Aramaic. Most of them are religious Jews, which means they will not allow themselves access to the missing pieces of the puzzle, which hide in occultism, alchemy, and other fringe doctrines. Hell, how many Hebrew scholars study psycho-dynamic theory? From my perspective, I found a map leading to a treasure chest, a map only a few people in the world can read, and I am one of them, and yet my wife demands I should find a part time job. I don’t have the luxury of finding a job. It would be like spitting in the hand that has blessed me with what I always wanted. Don’t you see? The truth is, Diane, that these difficulties in our relationship are a disastrous distraction for my work. In other words, your fear is sabotaging my efforts to give you what you want quicker.
It’s not about money, Diane. In fact, that’s the whole point. I know it scares you when I speak this way, but it’s true. I have chased money all my life. My identity was formed around the pursuit of financial gain, instead of the pursuit of happiness, because I simply assumed that the latter was hiding in the achievement of the former. I left my home land, Israel, and everything I knew behind and moved to America, the land of opportunity, when I was twenty-three, determined to become a millionaire. I wanted money and I was vocal about it. Almost every choice I made in my life was driven by money. God, how embarrassing it is to reflect on some of them! I once accepted a job before I knew the job description, just because my salary was doubled. Who cares, I said. For this much money I’ll dance naked on the conference room table, if that’s what they want me to do. Marrying you was one of the only honest choices I made, and it was the best one. Maybe the only good one, and I say that even now, as we approach dissolution. It changed my life. When you met me, I was a different person. You changed me. You taught me to feel, to step out of my autistic mind into the realm of emotional upheaval. It was you who made me who I am, don’t you see? You used to tell me you don’t care if I become a VP, that all of this is irrelevant to you, and I would argue that money makes the world go round and if you have money, happiness follows. You taught me this is not true, that art is all that matters, that self-expression is the life force, that we are, after all, spiritual beings. That I must peruse my happiness regardless of financial gain. And here I am, for the first time in my life, pursuing my happiness, just like you taught me, and I am not doing this for money, but for the conviction that this knowledge must be brought to light. I became the man you always wanted me to be, who changed his corrupt values and has found his purpose; and yet here we are, about to break our sacred vows of marriage because of fiduciary concerns. It makes me so sad, so frustrated. I feel helpless.
When I was a child, I wanted to become an explorer who would discover a new continent no one has ever stepped on before. It was obvious to me as I grew older that I have missed the boat. Every corner of this planet was already explored, and the vast distances of space are beyond human reach. I have given up the dream, but never stopped dreaming. I am standing here today, at this juncture in my life, knowing that if I work hard I will make this childhood dream come true. The undiscovered shores of human knowledge are inward, not outward, and I intend to find them. It was my hope to do it with you by my side; I now see that this will be a journey I will have to travel alone.
I am choosing, Diane Juliette Sherman. If it is a choice between you and my dream, I choose the dream. You would, too, if you faced the same choice. Everyone would. I would resent you forever if I won’t. I am so sorry. The tears just keep coming down, I can’t stop crying. I love you so much. Take it all, Diane. Take the house, the remaining savings, the car. You’ll have a good retirement nest to build upon and should be okay going forward. I’ll keep what’s left of my retirement plan — It should be enough to keep me going for a couple of years, long enough for me to finish solving this puzzle and get a book or two out. I am a better investment than my 401K. I am so close! If you only knew how close I am, how everything you ever wanted is just beyond a thin veil of understanding, masked only by the dark cloud of fear that has engulfed you. I do not resent you for it. I simply mourn what was at hands’ reach and yet could not be grasped. I really believed I — and hence you — could have it all.
I love you. You will forever reside in my heart. You are, Diane, the love of my life.
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