That’s the year, but not really the year. It’s always: this many years from this date, or this person, or this special event. Why can’t it just be: this is the damn year? This is the great NOW. The ever-present reality of what is happening at this very moment. Maybe the thought of now is too much for us to take. So we make distractions like seconds and minutes; hours, days and years. It’s all the same, though, different expressions of one big NOW.
And what the hell is a watch? I mean, for shit’s sake is the sun not enough? There’s a literal ball of fire rolling through space for our convenience and we need something on our wrist to tell us when to get up and when to go to sleep? Nothing has changed for thousands of years and yet everything has. We have so much more than we used to, but I still can’t figure out why the hell I wake up with a pit in my stomach, or why I still feel empty after a day at work.
All I’m told, day in and day out is to keep on going. Keep working so that I can keep living. Keep living so that I can retire and then stay frail until I die one day. Only problem is, I already feel dead. I'm surviving so I can die someday. I'm keeping this shell of a body alive and functioning so that one day I can discard it and then say it was a good ride.
But was it? If you had one night, only one, to do your favorite thing: see your favorite singer, have coffee with your favorite author, skydive with your favorite uncle, whatever it is! You would make the most of it wouldn’t you? You wouldn’t go through the night, casually striking up conversation with that author, asking the mundane things.
Who cares where you’re from? Who gives a damn about that cat you had when you were seven? You would ask the real things—the meaty things. The things that keep them up at night, the things that allow them to sleep feeling satisfied. The things that everyone wants to ask, but is afraid to. Because asking them makes people think, and when we really think we remember we’re mortal.
We treat life like a shitty date. We stay on the surface the whole damn time. We’re born, we grow (some of us more gracefully than others), we go to school and we learn how to be a part of society. We learn how to be functional. How to fit into whatever neatly prescribed box others tell us we should step in. Our whole lives are a monologue going something like this:
You can be whatever whatever you want in life, d’accord?
What do you want to be? (Eyes wide and searching, a venomous curiosity there.)
(Thinking furiously, eager to impress, but stay true to his little heart.) I like stars and space. An astronomer!
There’s no money in that, choose something else.
(Thinking again, more deflated this time.) How about baseball? I play everyday!
No one makes it in sports, choose something practical. Like a doctor! (Her eyes are on fire with this bolt of inspiration and his are confused.) You’ll make plenty of money and you’ll enjoy it.
I guess . . .
I’d be lying if I said I never had this conversation. And I “I guessed” for years until this very moment. I guessed my way into so many neat boxes that I don’t know if I can find my way out. I’m knee-deep in I guesses and it’s hard to find my way back to the original one when you’re this far down the line.
I’m in the “shut up and live your life” stage of life. The “what the hell are you complaining about you have a stable job, can you ask for more?” phase of life. It’s crazy, but people look at me like I’m crazy when I talk about actually enjoying life. Not just surviving and then dying like we’re taught to do, but living. What a strange concept that we don’t have to be slaves to circumstance or the expectations of others?
Maybe all I’m asking is that we give a little more heed to the nightmares and daydreams of our youth, fiery manes and all. What’s the point of telling a child to strive and to achieve when you set the limit for that achievement six inches above her head?
There’s no end to what the human mind can conjure up, but we let those bursts of creative light become stifled by the pessimistic clouds of life.
But you know what? Nothing I’m saying is new, absolutely nothing! Since 1211, 1756, 1982, or whatever damn expression of this NOW happens to be, there have always been those who seize and those who are seized from. I’m not saying I’m anything special. Shit, I’ve been seized from more than an epileptic.
I mean, it’s 2599, and what do I have to show for it?