Lauren. 23. On the fence about just about everything.
“n. In the ethical system of Immanuel Kant, an unconditional moral law that applies to all rational beings and is independent of any personal motive or desire.”
“According to Kant… morality can be summed up in one ultimate commandment of reason, or imperative, from which all duties and obligations derive. He defined an imperative as any proposition that declares a certain action (or inaction) to be necessary.”
- via wikipedia.org
Now all the truth is out
Be secret and take defeat
From any brazen throat,
For how can you compete,
Being honour bred, with one
Who, were it proved he lies,
Were neither shamed in his own
Nor in his neighbors’ eyes?
Bred to a harder thing
Than Triumph, turn away
And like a laughing string
Whereon mad fingers play
Amid a place of stone,
Be secret and exult,
Because of all things known
That is the most difficult.
-William Butler Yeats
The other day, I took all my weed, put it in a trash bag, and threw it away.
The other day, five hours later, I found myself sorting through our complex’s dumpster, pushing aside tampons and the macaroni and cheese I had messed up cooking the night before, looking for one wrinkled Ziploc with about a quarter of a gram of dusky green in it.
It was like looking for a needle in a huge pile of shit.
Anyway, I couldn’t find it. At the large metal recycle bin next to me was a can fairy- the “affectionate” name my college town, Isla Vista, has bequeathed to members of any of the several families living in vans parked on the streets around our apartments. I had witnessed several lively debates in my time at UCSB when discussion of the can fairies and their children, in varying contexts, led to discoveries of intense disagreements on broader issues. The only thing I couldn’t figure about the situation was how, 0.7 miles away from the campus of a public institution for higher education, among 10,000 students who obviously had boatloads of money to spare, the best option available to entire families was living in cars and cashing in on the recycling our binge-drinking produced.
…but back to how I was at my garbage can instead of in class, intently ignoring the 45-ish year old man next to me, as he intently did the same for me. I wanted to tell him I was sorry, but I didn’t know why. My compulsive repetition of the word had led to the placing of certain constraints on its use: namely, that if I could not identify an actual reason for apologizing (a reason which could be related to the person I was apologizing to, should they ask), then I was not allowed to verbalize my penitence.
I had an identifiable reason, actually. I was standing here searching for $5.00 worth of weed that my parents had essentially paid for, because I was too lazy to leave my internet connection and well-stocked fridge to bike down the street and get some more. He was about halfway down the 6600 block of Trigo, emptying beer cans out of dumpsters so that he could feed his kids.
So I assumed, anyway. This rationalization for verbalizing regret was vetoed as well, though, based on several another constraints I had devised: the explanation would take more than fifteen to twenty seconds, and was not something I could easily simplify; it involved ethnic backgrounds and economic standings, which, as a rich white girl, I have been trained to avoid whenever possible; most importantly, it was likely to make the intended recipient of the apology feel worse, rather than better, and thus would negate any actual purpose it might have otherwise served.
Plus, I wasn’t sure if he spoke English. The only words I could remember reliably in Spanish were ‘amor,’ ‘juntos,’ and ‘lencha’ (I had recently been watching a telenovela about lesbians).
I ripped open the top of the bag and looked through the first layer of garbage before noticing a smaller hole already present on the bottom of the bag, out of which the paste formerly known as my macaroni and cheese was being pushed in glops. I wondered if the guy next to me had already found it. If he did, I hoped he knew I was looking for it, and laughing at me. I hope he was thinking, what a fucking dumbass.
(You know those commercials where children are crying tears of hunger- sometimes chewing on their fingers, the whole thing? They’re usually in black and white. They are the ones that make you become embarrassingly aware, for 20 to 25 tense seconds, that the amount of money you put into ordering a grande machiatto every morning, instead of a tall one, could support a child’s entire life somewhere else.
I used to have a theory that physical distance created moral distance. It wasn’t that we were heartless; it was just that the tragedies occurring were thousands of miles away. If there was someone starving on our own doorstep- if there were hundreds of people, thousands- surely we would go outside and help them.