mark mathew braunstein

United States

Topics of Focus

nature, including nocturnal wildlife such as these photos

Biography

If I live that long, I will die too soon. Until that inevitable end, as I believe neither in afterlife nor aftershave, I aspire to spend the rest of my life as a very hairy and very healthy corpse. That should suffice as my life's story, a short story. But now there's no stopping me. Am a Leo, and I can't help it, I was born that way. I look and feel 10 years younger than my age, and even at the age of 9, I looked and felt 10 years younger than my age. Along the route of my search for eternal youth, I spoke out with the intent to save the world, though I'm now content to save my breathe. I was a mountain hiker, marathon runner, and mile swimmer, but now am crippled by a sports injury and pickled by nearby nuke plant radioactivity, to which I attribute others' misshapen bodies and my misconceived thoughts. I've studied both Testaments of the Bible, the tenets of Buddhism and Shinto, and the supermarket tabloids while waiting at the checkout line. And add to my reader's dossier the nearly entire oeuvres of way too many Eurocentric dead white males, for instance Melville and Whitman, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, Rilke and Leopardi, Kafka and Borges, Cioran and Beckett, Plato and Socrates, Nietzsche and Schopenhauer, Barnes and Noble, and my guru and mentor and doctor Seuss, to name some whose rhymes and rants I somehow survived without going crazy, but also without growing wise. I've also read more than a lioness's share of women writers too, just not anyone who has changed my life, say the way Socrates and Plato did, who taught me for instance that poverty is measured not by how little one owns, but by how much one wants. As I want more to inspire reverence for the planet upon which our wasteful and meager lives depend, my own greatest inspirations are the writings of Peter Matthiessen and Edward Abbey, especially Abbey's Fool's Progress and Desert Solitaire, both which I've cried over and read twice over, the second times chapter-by-chapter backwards, because according to Kierkegaard, Life is Lived Forwards but Understood Backwards. In deference to and defense of Mother Earth, I've never wanted to father a child, nor have I ever fathered an unwanted child. And I’ve never foster fathered calves and lambs and kids and piglets, which is why since age 15 I have not eaten them, nor since age 19 drank the milk their mothers intended for them. I wonder what people mean when they espouse their love for animals, yet they love them also for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Also I do not eat white flour or white sugar or take pharmaceutical drugs or drink alcohol or smoke tobacco, but I do legally partake of marijuana, medicinally for below the waist, and recreationally for above. Which proves I am merely human, so certainly not godlike. I believe in all of the gods, but none of the religions. Born an agonizing agnostic, I am not religious, but if I were religious I would be a Zen monk, except for my being incurably and heretically heterosexual, and except for my being more zany than holy. Am a former island resident of the nuthouse called Manhattan, where same as most of its residents I too was a nutcase, until I outgrew my ego-driven ambition to earn a livelihood as a painter, for which my only regret is not having renounced art sooner. As primary collector of my own art and primary caretaker of my own health, I resided for 26 years until 2013 as an ape man in a nature preserve where the chickadees perched upon me, and where the deer did not flee me. And where then as now, I live without a tranquilizing tv, metastasizing microwave, alarming alarm clock, handcuffing wristwatch, or imprisoning cell phone. I've never shopped at Wal-Mart nor on eBay, but have browsed the stalls of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. I’ve never set foot in nearby Foxwoods casino, but have hiked the Grand Canyon from rim to river to rim. I've never drank Classic Coke or Coors or Starbucks, but in pursuit of enlightenment have fasted just on water many times and many days. I may never attain enlightenment nor see god, but perhaps I'll see into your future and see you having endured reading all the way to the end of this, my life story, for which I thank you, and may be why I now can die a happy old man.