Shallow Dance

by Matty Sullivan

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Pissed Upon by a Possum

“There is nothing more frightening than ignorance in action.”

--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

That’s true—unless it’s a flying shark in action.

If you asked my cat, he would tell you there is nothing more frightening than another cat. Even if the other cat is completely calm and taking no notice of him, Kitty will run far away.

I’ll tell you what I’m afraid of: everything. If it doesn’t come to me naturally and spontaneously, I don’t like it. I don’t like working hard, I don’t like being lazy. I don’t like talking to people, I don’t like being lonely. I hate taking showers. They frighten me. I love the Ocean but I stay away from it.

Any time I have something I need to do, I avoid it for as long as I can. I’m afraid of doing it, for I might mess it up. Or I might not, and then where would I be?

I seem to be most comfortable putting things off until the last minute. Of course, sometimes things go undone. Deadlines pass or I have to move on to something else. Then it’s time to do what I’m truly good at: talk shit to myself. In the throes of my regret, I will simultaneously berate myself for failure and convince myself that I am fully capable of doing anything I set my mind to as long as I am diligent—which I resolve to be from that point forward.

This happens at least once a day. I spend a lot of time resenting the lack of recognition my gifts receive, fully aware that I am the one to blame for this. I have put my light under a basket and then put that basket in the back of a dark closet, then closed the door and locked it. Then I ran far away from the house in which that closet exists, and then occupied myself by telling everyone I know about the great light I have, how cool it is and how much I love it. You should see it, man.

For all I know, that shit doesn’t even exist anymore. It’s been eaten by rats or pissed upon by a possum. At the very least, it is waning. Every light needs something to burn and the longer it goes without being fed, the weaker it gets. Everybody knows this.

The problem is that I am an introvert. What exists in my head is usually more satisfying to me than is the rest of the world. And in my head I am fantastically creative, wildly successful. I have entire movies and novels in there. Fantastic poetry, glorious music. They get me through the day while I’m stuck working for other people. But the process of externalizing them is pure dreariness. I resist it with everything I have.

The final bitterness is that only I know the difference. The people around me have no idea what they are missing. I could rule the world, if only the world lived in my head as I do. Sometimes I think it does, and these are moments of joy for me.