To make another person feel comfortable in conversation, it helps to look into their eyes for a certain amount of time. If you’re ordering a burrito from somebody and you don’t look at anything but the counter top, you’ll leave the transaction feeling like Kaspar Hauser come to the city for the first time, and the register person will wonder what they could have done to intimidate you so.
To become a high-powered advertising executive, you’ll find that it helps to take a general piece of social advice like this and overhandle it, dirty it right up. Make like a garden sprinkler and evenly distribute eye contact among people in a room. Set a timer in your head. It’s a solution to a problem.
Expand this concept to everything else in your life. The main problem is there are different kinds of people in the world but you don’t have a lot of time. You can solve that by disrespecting people – you knew that when you signed up – but you can’t stop there. Disrespect language itself: ignore what you’ve learned in your life about the word “love” and start applying it to all the things you find out another person enjoys. If you don’t know what a person is talking about, love it, and it will go away without anybody having bad or awkward feelings. Combine your love with wide-eyed nodding and a prudently furrowed brow to cut the discomfort out of times when you are unable to talk because somebody else is. There are problems in the world, and they can all go away.
Words for when something is clanging around inside another thing:
I’ve been making these payments for years, and damn it, the balance doesn’t move!
You might take one look at the river and see a plastic boat and a family or fellowship of ducks, who can say what brought them together, and a jetski spitting up plumes, dragging up shining soaking gin and milk thistle milk, trail of breadcrumbs vanishing rapidly at its back but no fear of getting lost, no actual risk. And in this piece of the world you’ll find that the city is more of a living thing than your own self. At your computer job you find that you yourself have become a tiny computer, and you develop algorithms for crossing the street and deciding what to eat, and you take in the smell of the lake and wonder for a spell at how to functionalize this odd input. So, if you wake up one day and, to your surprise, find energies moving through the world, know that it’s okay to be wrong, and ignore the bewildering and burdensome impulse to find justifications. You’ll wake up one day and hate, hate, hate all the tangle and clatter, and the resultant bashed up materia of your body, and you’ll wake up one day dancing along, and you’ll wake up one day and look in the mirror and say “get out of my way, old man,” and you’ll wake up
I passed a bird on the path in pieces, head first. Deaf people waving each other out of the way of passing cyclists, looking all formal because, alarm or no, it’s a language. Sky too light and purple for the stars, the day theretofore all spent inside, too lit for living. My baby is gone, my baby is gone, and I’m working at the car wash.