A Sunk Cost: Letting Bygones be Bygones

Before I commence the purpose for which I have set to write upon tonight, I wish to offer a caveat; you see, I was recently told by a dear acquaintance that my writing was good,’…although I sometimes rambled.’ And while I call myself a writer, it is not under the banner of my blog that I do so. This blog is all a letter to myself, a journal, a message in a bottle to future self and progeny. And aside from occasional trysts with poetry, I do not pretend any of this is art – nor do I represent it as such; however, as someone who owns books containing the private letters of some of my favorite writers (Published postmortem), I know that a writer will be judged by his words as well as his works.

That said, I wish to be appraised as a writer upon my coming works of fiction, which, aside from my Love and my Family, my life is dedicated to.

So if I ramble, I make no apologies for it; for I think it the most natural thing in the world.


Vanities and insecurities aside, I am sitting down to write tonight to put the past where it belongs.

A few days ago, while laying in bed on a lazy Saturday day, I turned to Sarah, and asked her to look up the definition of “A sunk cost”. From whence this idea came, I knew not (At the time); however, in the particular state of consciousness I was in, I felt it pertinent to pay attention to what had arisen in my psyche from the depths within.

A sunk cost, we discovered, is a finance term denoting a cost, which, once incurred, is irrecoverable and therefore should not be considered when making future decisions.

I immediately connected the dots in my psyche to the past; for what is the past but something we cannot recover and therefore should not be considered when making future decisions.

For what is the past but something we cannot recover and therefore should not be considered when making future decisions.

A few days later, after coffee, conversation, and dessert, Sarah and I walked around the neighborhood where we had ventured to spend our evening, and I suddenly realized where I had come across the concept of a sunk cost.

In my favorite poem, Bygones, Marina Keegan wrote:

The middle of the universe is here, is tonight,
And everything behind is a sunk cost
Lost in our oceans and our oceans are deep.

We looked up the poem on the spot and the above verse confirmed the dots my unconscious mind had remembered – words, which until then had no conscious meaning to me.

Only before connecting these dots, I had no proper metaphor for letting bygones be bygones.

But once I did, I realized the past was all a sunk cost.

And, unlike Faulker wrote in Requiem For a Nun, of the past being “not even past”, I realized the past was dead, kept alive until then, until now, by the idea that it somehow could be recovered, ala Jay Gatz.

And now, I know that it is simply a sunk cost – and therefore should not be considered for future decision making.

How I wished I had learned this sooner. But, I did not.

So tomorrow I will awake knowing that today is a sunk cost.

Irrecoverable, but not lost. Forgotten perhaps, but not lost.

And there is nothing sad in this; for I am happy. Today and since quite long. But I know now that everything behind is a sunk cost.

So with that, I can let bygones be bygones.

Ruminating 

Knowing now what I do, I face extrordinary dilemmas. 

The knowing I refer to, being the fact that all is possible within the governing laws of order and chaos. For even kings are subject to the laws of  nature. 

The dilemma being the fact that time and tide wait for no man. But ’tis better to set a false course than none at all; however, best to make sure. 

So that’s what I’m thinking about. 

Courses, possibilities, the call of distant stars; measuring that which is best to reach. 

Thirty is such an age when men may do these things; at least, for me, I have never before weighed possibilities out against the sands of time, as I now do. 

Age. The clock continues to strike, moving closer to midnight on some dreams than others. 

I can always be forty and build businesses – striving for the empire in which I can catch my reflection in the mirror and say fuck you, I made it to those who never thought I would. 

I can always be forty and American. It’s thirty that flees, reminding me, as I near closer thirty one, that I cannot dig these days back out. 

These are the years. 

There’s just something inherent within the power of choice I have today, telling me to choose wisely. Reminding me I want XYandZ in the coming years more than I want ABandC. 

I rounded out my previous entry with words on eating cake and having it too, but a man must know what brioche is – lest he spend his days chasing bread. 

I heard something in my twenties once to the effect of: how a man spends his days is how he spends his life. These are my days, this my life; am I chasing bread or baking brioche?

I had, until recently, a great and terrible freedom: no wife and no kids. Great for I had no ties, and terrible for I yearned for them. And, while I do not at present have a wife, I do have something akin to one. Thus, the terrible longing for a dearest friend is again over, but the other side of the coin shines light on new great and terrible truths. Great because I have ties – terrible for they are not yet bound. The second part, the fear, owing to the fact that I did not buy my wife as an established man does. She loves me for me alone, but I must make sure she knows what she is bargaining for. When a woman imagines marrying a writer, I do not think she imagines the verb inherent to the noun. Perhaps I ought come with a disclaimer: whiskey: yes, dinner parties: hopefully (Thankfully, the latter is still within reach). 

At the library where I work as a part time volunteer, there is a man who strikes me as very nice. Myself, being a writer, have of course invented – or at least invented in this moment – a story about him, for I do not know him well. The story goes, this nice man, being smart and more interesting than most, wanted to be a writer – he fancied himself so. Only, he did something else. Maybe a long romance, maybe a career in engineering, maybe both. Only, neither worked out beyond maintaining his lifestyle, which is to say, the quality of life he felt owed. So, at thirty nine or maybe forty two, he left the job, lost the girl, maybe a year of despondency ensued, but then he got smart and honest about who he was. So, he took up his library position, and started writing on those days off. And maybe he even wrote in the mornings too, only that didn’t last given the resistance of middle age to new habits. But just maybe he finished his book. Let’s say he did. So, he sends it to publishers, enclosed in the bright lavender envelope all the pipe-dream directed writing books tell you to use. Only, the book was no good. Watching 10 seasons of Law And Order in his thirties dulled his characterizations, and his story, about a guy who walked away from it all at thirty to write, was uninteresting at best. So tonight he lumbers into his apartment bed, bleary eyed from Netflix, and he tells himself, at fifty, I shall travel. 

Just maybe; it is certainly not an unbelievable tale. 

Thankfully, I am thirty – but still, the tale, albeit fictional, is not unrelatable for me. It’s a cautionary myth, concocted in my own head to remind me that time is the most precious asset I have. 

So I am here, writing and ruminating on the truest course toward the brightest star. 

Unfortunately, I’ve never been much for seeking or following parental advice, and the men I wish I could seek the counsel of, my grandfathers, are as stone dead today as they were upon my birth, which may in itself be telling, for the men in my family, excepting my father at sixty-odd years, have not been long for this world. Not to say I do not feel I am, but as much as I pine to one day be a grandfather, I’m not yearning for my seventies, nor am I excited about life much beyond the coming few decades, which, given my genealogical research, may be all I have left, making thirty middle aged for me, and deeper relating myself to the relic of a writer tale, which I mythologized above. 

Like I said, I am facing extrordinary dilemmas. Life is not one of those choose your own adventure stories in which all avenues may be explored without the immovable, chronological weight of time. 

Unlike the Duke Ellington record, which I now have gotten up to replay the A side of four times, my thirties are a one way ticket. No B side, no telling Sam to play it again. Like the beer I picked up tonight, it’s one and done. Thankfully, the beer is 22 ounces, and my thirties  ten years long. Only, I know I can’t be thirty six and be making a first go at sending off that lavender envelope. I know my story in the pulsings of my blood, and that’s not how it goes. 

There is another, well-known, mythologized tale of the would be writer. It’s the tale of the guy who always had that great screenplay or novel in him, but there was always an excuse. The timing was just never right to write. But then finally, it was, he had the desk and library (Ahem, both my library and my desk are absolute tits – thank you very much). Only, when he sat down to write, it was all in vain. His dreams were perhaps more of the noun and less of the verb – more dinner parties for ten than whiskey for one. 

Of course, as all real (See: published) writers will tell you, the timing is never right. The time to write is now and every goddamn day you consume oxygen on this bloody planet. Unfortunately most wannabes want the lifestyle rather than the life. 

I am reminded of the ancient words, imploring me to be rather than to seem. 

Only, it’s all very meta now; I write yes, but I am no different than one who writes Harlequin novels; it’s all masturbation and no nipple biting. I write about writing, yet I do not write as a writer does, I merely find secondhand outlet. And it’s all very tiring and unsatisfying. 

So, I’ll lumber off to slumber, knowing that at thirty one, I’ll be a writer. 

Weighing My Conscience

It is nice to be writing tonight; lately, I’ve been writing more out of compulsion and less out of habit, thus it’s felt more the product of requirement rather than inspirement, which to me is a constant.

I am always the writer.

This is who I am.

I am first and foremost Lawrence Black the writer – all else is a distant second: son, brother, lover, friend – everything else is secondary to the verb I enjoy most. This thing, it’s me. And I loathe myself for not making it my one love. I loathe myself for valuing love and success and accomplishment and satisfaction to the thing I was born to do.

I am the Peter Pan of the pen game, a lost boy, full of pixie dust; however, unlike Peter Pan, I do grow up – and I am.

Thirty. Fuck me. I am not looking to be that thirty five year old working on his “novel”. Fuck me.

So, this thing calls; the muse pulls and commands me to abide, which I happily do tonight. Only, this is not enough.

I remember reading Thomas Wolfe’s Of Time and The River last year, which is essentially a quasi-autobiography in which Wolfe details his – or rather Eugene Gant’s – journey from boy to writer. Something akin to Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, in which Joyce, as Stephen Dedalus, finally wanders off in exile, declaring: “I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.”

For what is the soul but a smithy, a forge, in which I, in my twenties, founded the basis upon which I now write: loves and dreams and holding on and letting go.

For it is me: I live this life essentially alone; yes, I have Sarah – the woman whom I love and I am making this life with – but nothing is promised.

I find it simply mind blowing that humans, the singular species capable of altruism, can be so survivalist in their relationships; however, I suppose the question answers itself in my existence.

We had to get here somehow. So we broke a few hearts on the way to this omelette, just a few eggs; the strongest surely survive. I have.

I just can’t shake the weight of fate from my shoulders, the sense of who I am. My pesonal sense of destiny. The singular force stronger than my own will.

It’s the one thing that has kept me going: the idea that I, Lawrence dot Black, am a person who must become himself. In the too-apt, almost cliche, words of Abraham Maslow: “A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be.”

So I am here, “Shakespearing” – as I like to refer to it, and as I did prior to leaving Sarah in our bed to come out on the balcony and write tonight.

It drives me fucking crazy to be thirty. I’m like an atomic bomb waiting to go off. I am nothing but unborn potential, and it’s maddening. You can’t imagine being me, knowing your ego is misunderstood and but a foreshadow of what is to come. Maddening.

But this sense of destiny calms me: the certainty that this will all make sense one day, it is a fantastic balm. But it doesn’t make it any more comfortable.

It’s no less maddening to know you will one day be great than to hope; for neither is a tangible feeling, just the lust. The lust for the life you were born for. I felt it at thirty; a fire in my belly began to smolder, burning deep and hot as hunger. Only, I knew; I learned that there was no way my life could have been any different. I wouldn’t have the depth I do, nor the curiosity “to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.”

I think art – good art – is as required as good sex. At least, in the human psyche, the alternatives are absolutely damnable – causing us to focus on the things that don’t matter, rather than that which does. And I wonder about this thing, the analogousness of the two: art and sex. For both surely exist for the sake of one another, as the painter must paint, seeking the deepest artistic purpose for which he was born, so too must he find his deepest biological purpose in his art. And he finds the cause for each in each other. In art, he finds love, and in love, art.

It’s an intense thing to know yourself. But when you know what makes you tick, so too must you wind the watch and tune each gear to its proper movement.

And tonight, I feel the proper coordinates aligning within me; I feel the pulsings of my blood in my keystrokes; I can feel my feet striking their proper path in the sands of time, bearing down on a due course to oblivion, leading me toward the desire to feel more and more alive each day before I die.

Is this not what we want, to feel more alive.

I do.

There are persons and places and things to which, when I am connected most to, I feel most alive. Sex, writing, solitude – yes, the soul needs its intercourse too. And perhaps this is what writing gives me: the ability to get fucked good and hard by my passions.

I’m sure the preceding only makes sense to artists, but it is solely for myself to whom I write. This is all one giant letter to my soul, begging Peter Pan to come out and play.

He must.

If I am to be at peace with myself, I must.

But it’s not feeling less alive, that we seek in solitude and together, it is feeling less lonely, which we truly desire.

I have always connected deeply to the following words of David Wallace:

“Fiction is one of the few experiences where loneliness can be both confronted and relieved. Drugs, movies where stuff blows up, loud parties — all these chase away loneliness by making me forget my name’s Dave and I live in a one-by-one box of bone no other party can penetrate or know. Fiction, poetry, music, really deep serious sex, and, in various ways, religion — these are the places (for me) where loneliness is countenanced, stared down, transfigured, treated.”

I relate so deeply to this.

I have always been rather lonely. These words strike my heart as a smith does a hammer to the forge. Ding, ding, ding. Hot sparks. Truth, ringing loud and clear in the soul – as it always does.

If I am ever to be known, if I am ever to be less lonely, if my lover and my family and friends are ever to know me, I must write.

Period.

Dramatics aside, this is my truth.

No one, not even my exes, will ever know me without my work.

Without my giving a body to my soul, I will forever be a lost boy.

But this is not sad. This fact is a relief. This fact is balm, for it is part of my sense of destiny.

I am Lawrence Black, the writer. But I do not write as writers do. Yes, I do have a body to my work: TBD, 12FEB, HH, ATS, all these stories have been born and live within me. But it is so lonely to alone know them. It is so lonely to alone know myself.

Thirty years old, and I and my stories so unknown; although, I know it truly, that I could not have been any quicker to bloom. As a novelist in my twenties, I would have been an arrogant, talentless snot.

Osmosis. Absorption. The reading has been, and is, as important as the writing.

I refrain from naming names, only I will: Aurelius, Hugo, Steinbeck, Emerson, Shakespeare, Dickens, these men are brothers to me. I do not care of their existence for vanities, how they looked or how great their beards or homes were, these are mere facades, which I care no more for then the bearded God of my youth. I care only for their works. All else is secondary.

But age, the time and pressure and form giving way to me, remains a weight.

Thirty. Please, please let me become.

Do not give way to vanities, to comforts. To the things that do not matter.

My stories, the shaping of unborn consciences, are of paramount importance to my own.

And it kills me not to gestate them daily; for I am fairly formed and they wait.

And I, for what?

Deadlines. Well, eventually there will be no more. But some must be set. Internally.

So, I wrote this tonight: to kindle the fire beneath my own ass. For no one else will. It is me. I must write, I must become, I must level up in this game of life, giving no weight to consciences not aligned with my own. Those who may make a stranger of me as freely as one would a friend, must be weighed duly. And I suppose it is my own conscience that I weigh tonight, for it is heavy.

Heavy with the weight of my stories, but also heavy with the weight of sapphire stone, and houses, and cars, and boats, and things for which only my ego cares. But I must have both; for I refuse to believe my path must follow another, that I am unable to have my brioche and eat it too.

So I reconcile. I write and I remind myself that I am Lawrence Black, and that in due time, all will be.

For I know. In my heart of hearts, I know. They do not, but I do.