On the meaning of sighs: A philosophical conversation followed by a lullaby

The following is a short excerpt from a philosophical conversation I had recently with one conversation partner. Afterward: an afterthought, an extra thought, a lullaby of a kind.
She wrote,
I sigh.
Yes I sigh.
The cosmic breath, of all men, of all women
Of more creation, loss and love to come.
I replied,
First, “I sigh”: The sigh is the quiet laugh of the tragic:
I.e., it is an acknowledgement of a life and a death that is no one else’s but mine.
It follows that no one else can take my death from me.
Second, “the cosmic breath”: The sigh is a mark of my stepping back from the brink.
The sigh implies that I am viewing life as if from above.
It follows that the sigh is sub specie aeternitatis (“under the aspect of eternity”).
Third, the puzzle: How can the sigh be at once above me (infinitude) and about me (finitude)?
The solution: The sigh is a sign that the life of which I am a part I am not, finally, apart.
Conclusion: With the sigh, I have overcome despair. Whence the wise final line re: “loss and love to come.”


A Memory, a Lullaby

December 25, 2009. I sighed, yes I sighed. I was busy making the world’s shittiest hot chocolate. There was no milk in the refrigerator, the stove was half-warm and wouldn’t heat up, and I was in a fucking hurry. The end result was a chalky mess which I rushed out to hand to my former girlfriend–a beautiful woman, with dark hair and dark eyes, “nothing like the sun”–who stood forlornly beside her Mini. It had been a miracle, I suppose, that the SUV that had crunched the right front fender hadn’t also collected my right femur, tibia, and ankle in the bargain. The car was fucking mangled, and, what’s worse, the hot chocolate was undrinkable. (I drank it later.) Because I could walk, I could still make shitty hot chocolate. She turned from me, my dark lady. Here–Exhibit A–was salvation, light amusement for the mischievous gods.

I nudged (if that’s the word) the Mini onto the side road. Then, I slowly unloaded my boxes back into my old apartment. A dingy place I’d subletted–yes–from a writing friend who was away in South America working on the next great American novel. (We live our cliches, don’t we?) Luckily, I didn’t have much to haul. Half the boxes were filled with books. The other half with a wasted life.

Later that evening, I bought a one-day unlimited Metro card. It was 12 subway rides there and back before I’d managed to stack all the boxes in the Park Slope apartment I’d end up sharing for 3 months with a hipster bartender and a guy working for a start-up (This, of course, was before we got kicked out by the new landlord named Joe.) That night and for the next 3 months, I would sleep on an air mattress next to my philosophy books. The air mattress had a pin-sized hole in it. A memory of lost time: Alone walking home.

Home now. 2 years later. Upper East Side. Here I type beside the morning light, the birdsong, the birch trees, the church bells which should be set to ring in about an hour. Home now, my god. Omphalos. Now I laugh, yes I laugh. To me, life is sweet.

Further Reading

Andrew Taggart, “The Latest Version of my Short Public Bio”