The Kiss of Lust

I went to the bathroom this morning to take a shit and I had a choice of two pieces of reading material. “Icons of Photography” and “Cosmopolitan”. I chose “Cosmopolitan” because it promised to teach me “the kiss of lust” technique. Because even if you have fame, sex, money, and power, you can’t really be happy unless you also know the “kiss of lust”.

(Linda Evangelista, photographed by Helmut Newton, who is featured in Icons of Photography)

Which, of course, reminds me of my youth.

I was miserable in my 20s because I had written four novels over the course of three years and I couldn’t get any of them published. I probably had over 100 rejection letters. I should have “kiss of lusted” a publisher.

I thought I would be happy if I got a job at HBO. I was so happy when they made the offer. And the amount! I couldn’t believe how big an amount they would pay me. They asked what my salary was at my old job. I said $38k when it was actually $26k. I lied. But they offered me $40k. Score! I was RICH! But then…

I was miserable. The commute from my parents home in NJ was 90 minutes each way. One day, walking from Port Authority, the woman standing right next to me was run over and killed by a cab. I wasn’t qualified to do anything at work even though I had been a programmer for years. They had to send me to a remedial school and everyone knew that I was functionally incompetent at what I was hired to do. I had no girlfriend.

I would put my phone number on two dollar bills I would leave for waitresses as tips and ask them to call me. None did. And the work was super boring.  So then…

I thought I would be happy when HBO let me do the website I wanted to do: interviewing people at three in the morning on Tuesday or Wednesday nights. If you were out at 3am on one of those nights chances are you were a prostitute, a drug dealer, a homeless kid, a drug addict, mentally ill, a john, or all of the above. I know this because I interviewed you then! And then I might’ve dated you! For three years. What fun! But then…

(some of my interviews from the HBO 3am website)

I wanted to do it as a TV show. I couldn’t be happy unless 3am was a TV show. So finally they accepted my pitch and gave me money to shoot it as a pilot. But now I was very unhappy. I didn’t know what to shoot to make it exciting as a pilot. The girl helping me said, “don’t you ever get happy? You should be celebrating right now!” But…

HBO liked my first shoot so I was happy again after hours of shooting and in the editing room. I shot prostitutes and drug dealers waiting for the bus on Riker’s island. In another segment I mic-ed up a male prostitute. In another segment I had homeless kids fighting in Tompkins Square Park at three in the morning. But then Sheila Nevins at HBO didn’t like some of the other segments. So I was unhappy again.

And then, after three years, I was tired of doing it as a website. I was doing websites for many entertainment companies. I was getting tired of it all. So I got an offer from someone to buy my company. I was happy again. But then it took six months to close the deal. I was unhappy the entire time. Miserable. My company was going to go broke unless the deal closed. But then it closed and I felt for the first time in my life like I had money in the bank. I was happy.

(a kiss sometimes makes me temporarily happy)

And then, as I’ve recounted before, I lost all my money. I was so unhappy I was suicidal. I lost my house. People who used to point to me and say, “this guy is MONEY” would no longer return my phone calls. I would look at my 2 year old baby and wonder if she would remember me if I killed myself. Better if she didn’t, I thought.

I could keep going. It’s like when someone wakes up and says, “I have to tell you my dream”. It’s boring. I could go on and on detailing my unhappiness.

Fame, sex, money, power. At different points I felt like I had it all. Sometimes even all at the same time. When I wanted it, I was unhappy. And when I was coming down from any of it I was unhappy.

Sometimes people say, “It’s the journey, dude!” I had to add “dude” there. It is so not the journey. I hate the journey. The journey is the worst part. Here are aspects of the journey: fear of failing, things mess up and you have to fix them, money dwindling with no predictable outcome, rejection rejection rejection until (maybe) acceptance, and so on. Cheating. Stealing. Worse: People laughing. The journey sucks.

So then others say, “its that feeling of crossing the finish line”. Yeah, but that only lasts a second. And then you want more, or you have less than you thought, or you got the trophy but you have no place to put it, or you fall over and now they have to shoot you.

Here’s the paradox. If you give up the goals of fame, money, sex, power…then what happens? Do you disappear. Do you lounge around all day watching soap operas until finally you check into the homeless shelter and the soup kitchen? That doesn’t seem very good either.

But I have a top secret technique. You can’t tell anyone. And it’s corny so if you hate corny stuff, please, I beg you, stop reading. I even put a photo right here so you can stop before you scroll further.

(was Consciousness around before the Big Bang?)

I call it “The Visitor”. The Visitor was created in the Big Bang, 15 billion years ago, give or take 700 million years. The Visitor might’ve even been around before then. He’s just visiting. Because we have this undefinable quality called consciousness that nobody has ever been able to measure or study, my theory is that a small piece of The Visitor is inside each of us. That’s our consciousness. That’s us. But we forget that, combined all together, we are also The Visitor.

Sometimes I say, “ok, it’s all yours” to The Visitor. And then he takes over. And if I forget. If I try to use my tiny mind to control the universe to get more fame, sex, power, or money, I remember that The Visitor knows more than me. He’s happy to take over. He laughs and says, your puny mind is just a test tube. I’m THE VISITOR!

Sit  back, he says, let me take this one. You won’t regret it.

So I surrender. He can take over my body for that second, or moment, or if I’m lucky, for the whole damn day.

Because he’s never failed me. In my worst moments it’s as if he wakes up, looks around and says, “ok, I’m back here again. I know what to do in this situation.” And he does what needs to be done that second. With his 15 billions years experience and brain as big as a galaxy he doesn’t worry, he doesn’t fear, he doesn’t get angry. He knows what to do that very second. So he takes over.

And then if I’m luck he/she/it teaches me the Kiss of Lust. And that makes me happy.

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