Why am I riding this coal car? To see the Mississippi River from this perspective. But the enterprise is also life-affirming, momentarily burning away those weak but ubiquitous antagonisms that haunt life like burlesque but boring ghosts. I feel the quickened heartbeat that reminds me I'm fully alive, not just half-alive -- not just a sleepy halfwit caught in the cogs of a meaningless life. That I'm awake, and that my minutes are fleeting and numbered, and for a moment I feel outrageous and even stupid, but at least I'm aware, paying attention, experiencing everything with unusual vividness, cognizant of the miracle of breathing, drinking water that tastes better than the best Spanish wine.
But tucked into the folds of my elation I sense an inexplicable reservoir of depression. The aftertaste of the tragedy of desire, maybe, or betrayed restlessness, because for every intense high there is an inescapable low, and the fall always comes hard.