Dust and Roaches

“I have to admit, I was a little miffed when she dismissed my love for that new album without much qualification.”

The dust in the study looked amazing in the shafts of light that filtered in through the soap-streaked windows. It fell in scintillating curtains of stardust that drifted through the warm space. I was glad I didn’t have any allergies to the stuff, unlike my mom. She would’ve hated that room.

“Isn’t that the way with most things and most people, though?” Tom asked, pinching the roach he’d been nursing between two oil-stained fingers. He exhaled, adding a fine gauze of smoke to the air that displaced the dust wherever it spread. “I mean, people don’t have the capacity for a critical analysis of everything they come across. And if they do, stopping to give an in-depth opinion on all the things they experience would lead to paralysis. Maybe a hundred years ago, when the flow of information wasn’t so overwhelming, we could take the time to discuss the finer nuances of things. But then again, maybe not. It really depends on how much a person cares and if they even possess the intellectual skills to verbalize their feelings about it. What it boils down to, Jack, is that she probably didn’t give a shit about whatever it was you were talking about.”

I laughed. “That’s really what it comes down to, isn’t it?”

He nodded. “You’ll find that when you stop projecting all your wants and insecurities on other people that life gets a lot easier. Conversation these days is a real gift, you know? Capturing moments like these, when people are in sync enough to shoot the shit for any length of time, is special. We live at too fast a pace, a breakneck speed, with too much data coming in through every hole. Information overload was no joke back in the 80’s. How do you think it is now? We’ve only improved the efficiency and volume of our intake since then. What was a garden hose in 1989 has become a roaring, gaping sewage outflow today. And we still try to get our greedy mouths around it for fear of spilling even a tiny drop of that effluvia.” He shook his head. “I treasure moments like this, now. It’s like stepping into another dimension, one that’s free from all of that. I’ve been trying to meditate, too. Something I’d been thinking about for a long time and only recently started practicing.”

“How’s that working out for you?” I asked.

“It’s hard!” He brushed his hands on his pants legs and stood. “You don’t realize how much you crave distraction until you force yourself into a position of what seems like meaningless focus. We’re chained, mentally and maybe spiritually, to a world of notifications and updates. We’re swimming hard to stay abreast of this vast tide of information, but for what? How did we fall into the stream in the first place, and if we stop stroking do we drown? Or are we taken to a different, possibly better, place?”

2015.02.16 – 2023.09.12

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