The thing we must not forget, or rather, the thing to state first is that not too long ago we were strangers. You were, simply put, a tall German guy from Berlin who walked into the hostel where I live and work. You had a sing-song tilt to your English and you were hesitant to use it. Our conversation was question. Answer. Answer. Question – nothing similar to the cadence of your speech, and I wasn’t sure that you were even listening. Who is this person, Tim Kochler, and what’s inside his brain? What does he want? My American trepidation trickling into my reality. My guarded self.
You came back to San Francisco after a sojourn from the city to the woods. We spent that day walking and talking, and you described your experience hitchhiking and camping in Marin County – all of its serenity and tranquility. You explained the hesitancy Americans had to let you into their cars, into their reality – American trepidation. Strangers in a strange land. Was this the same trepidation I had when we met? Did you get this sense from me? Later that night, after the walking, a home-cooked meal of pasta with market-fresh asparagus and a few glasses of wine, you asked about my affinity for filling myself with smoke, which, in the deepest, darkest gullies of my heart lurks like a ghost, keeps me clouded and numb. Pain is not something I prefer because I experience myself as always having had it live inside of me. This is the thing I did not say when you asked me that the question on Spring Street – the city subdued with night turning into day.
You spoke, also, of time – your time is valuable. You cannot get time back. I keep time on my side. I like to think I always have more of it, but what I never acknowledged was time’s relationship to my body. It wears on us. Kindness to the self is what makes time precious, it is how we can appreciate and make the most of the time we have. To honor the self. Tim, your time with me is a reminder of the pervasive impermanence of time. Time, like thoughts and experience, is fleeting. We cannot touch it, only navigate and steer ourselves and our minds toward clarity. Time is precious, just as we, as humans, are precious, and we need to take care of ourselves. Thank you for this reminder and for living by example. You honor your time and your body. You get high from the fruits of this labor.
We are gigantic spirits bound to these fleshy sacks. At your age, 19 years young, I had not yet come into the willingness to take responsibility for myself. I flaunted wild ideas and interacted with people, led by that tickle of inquiry. Who am I when I ask questions? What changes when I open vulnerability’s doors? Though, I never kept that door ajar, only let the light trickle in. I see in you this same curiosity and awakening which brings the unsavory and unknown, the complex and gray matter of the heart into the light.
These are my truths: I am attempting to escape heart-break. (A sobering and new perspective gained as I write these words.) I am alone and I am searching for a home within myself. I am building the foundations for comfort to live inside my heart, to make that muscle stronger. Everything else is a distraction. I am good at distracting myself and telling stories that disguise themselves as truth. Nothing is static.
What are your truths? What dwells in the dark and untouched corners of your heart? The answers to this question can take you higher, can allow you to get access to your own power. Tim, you are lustful and this lust is compulsive. It is neurotic curiosity. As if there were no other alternative for the passing of time, and having gotten to know you, I understand that for you, there is no alternative. Keep smiling at life, Tim. When I remember you, I will think of your bright and innocent smile, folded flat against your face, tightly pinched and held at the corners of your mouth, at the crevice where cheek meets jowls. I will always wonder, “What is it that you are thinking, Tim?”