Tiny Cosmic Figure, Part 3 (End)
by Alex Shippee in Labels: , ,

In case you haven't read the first two parts (they're short) here they are. Part 3 won't make sense without them:

Tiny Cosmic Figure, Part 1
Tiny Cosmic Figure, Part 2 (Acedia)

My friends would say stuff like, “Darby’s is cool, but it’s nothing compared to this bar I went to in Spain,” or, “Don’t get me wrong, I like our friends here, but at home – where I’m from – we just have more in common.” I’d zone out when people start talking about that stuff and the tiny cosmic figure would scratch his head. He didn’t know how to react either, so we’d just wait.

The thing is, it’s all just a way to fight off some kind of spiritual torpor (Dante would call this acedia). That’s what I’m doing when I try to make a moment awkward instead of being polite. That’s what I did when I took an internship that demands 70 hours a week between work and travel. I knew it would be tough, but the tiny cosmic figure was silent when I was considering it. He didn’t comprehend what that entails because all it meant was that I wouldn’t be bored.

That’s why I don’t buy all that, “I was happy back when I was somewhere else,” or “I went to this place and it changed me.” That stuff may be true, but it’s always inflated. I think that’s why everybody talks about travel and why I instinctively tune it out.

But now that I’ve graduated, I don’t want to just keep living in Connecticut. I want to travel, but before that happens I’m going to take my tiny cosmic figure aside. I’m going to invite him outside my head and into the real world. We’re going to talk it through first.

I just don’t want to turn a good moment into a bad one by regretting where I am now.

Tiny Cosmic Figure, Part 2: Acedia
by Alex Shippee in Labels:

You can read Part 1 of 3 below (it's short). This part will make more sense if you do: Tiny Cosmic Figure, Part 1 
My time at Marist developed my partnership with the tiny cosmic figure. Him and I learned when he needed to come out, and when I was fine without him (rarely, it seems). We discovered, together, what it was like to have relationships grow and friendships deepen. When it came time to let my guard down I’d look to him for guidance and he’d rub his chin, idly. I’d ask, “Should I let this person closer to me? It might fuck me over later.” He’d stare at me for a moment, pensively. Then he’d shrug his shoulders as if to say, “Why not? Can you think of a good reason not to?” It’s impossible to lie to him so I’d say, “No. I guess not.” I’d get a little closer to somebody and usually it paid off, but his track record isn’t impeccable. It never is.
The tiny cosmic figure would mess up and I’d put my arms out, beseechingly, “Why didn’t you see this coming? I got completely screwed over there.” He’d nod, nervously, knowing he had made a mistake. But he would only be apologetic for a moment. “Would you really want the alternative? Never taking that risk?” And I wouldn’t be mad at him anymore. Because even when he messed things up, he’s still kind of right.
I’m one of the few people I know that spent all four years at Marist. Most people studied abroad or transferred at one point, but I stayed put. That stability has been really helpful and I wouldn’t trade it even for an unforgettable semester in Europe or an awesome freshman year spent somewhere else. I lived in Poughkeepsie for eight semesters and it wasn’t easy, but it was just me and the tiny cosmic figure. We bonded.

Read: Tiny Cosmic Figure, Part 3 (End)

Tiny Cosmic Figure, Part 1
by Alex Shippee in Labels: ,

My favorite moments are awkward moments. If I can’t make a situation enjoyable, the best I can do is to make it awkward. Generally, there are thousands of pounds of pressure pushing me to ruin something or to make something weird. Every so often though, I’ll see what I need to do – to be awkward and to keep people sufficiently distant from me – and I won’t do it. What happens in that moment is nothing short of miraculous.

Somebody will have said something that I think is dumb or obnoxious and I can prove it. I open my mouth to respond, but then I stop. A door in my head opens and some tiny cosmic figure invites me to enter. There, he shows me the consequences of my actions. What it looks like differs form moment to moment, but usually it’s people looking uncomfortable or kind of dazed or pissed. That tiny cosmic figure watches as I see this and makes a face like, “What do you think? Is it worth it?” I meet his gaze maturely, unsmiling and say, “No, I guess it’s not.” And I leave.

Back in the moment, I’m happy. I look around at the conversation going on around me and I chuckle to myself. “They have no idea,” I think. “I could have ruined this moment for them, but I decided not to.” I smile. “You’re welcome,” I think.

Other times, he gives me the go ahead, but not just a little. The tiny cosmic figure only comes out in big moments, so when he’s encouraging me, he’s not just looking up from a paper and saying, “Sure. Go for it, I guess.” He’s running from deep in my mind all the way to the front, waving his arms and yelling, “Do it! Holy fuck! Do that shit! Come on!” So, invariably I do it. He has about a 50-50 success rate (depending how the little guy’s doing that week) but I always follow his advice when he shows up because he never tells me to lie.

If he did, I promise I would stop.