Breathing Bad Air
OK, ready - set - gooooo! Not going to miss it today. No way. Not going to let the day turn against me. I can keep it on my side several ways. For now, I will look past all the ways it will try to turn me around. Like a bully ignored, the day will eventually tire of provoking me and move on to greener pastures. There are plenty of people lining up to twist with it. I'm just not one of them.
So what's in store, glad you asked. I'm going to write today. I may not have a form in mind when I close my eyes, but the keyboard doesn't know that. Like a dog on a walk, it doesn't care where we're going, but it loves the journey. I can do that. Fool myself into loving the journey, and like a walk, the piece will end up somewhere, if only back we I started
Truthfully, I want to end up somewhere I haven't been before. That's part of the joy of writing for me. I'm trying to learn to plan my pieces, like trips, map out which way I go, where I pause to stretch, pee, gas up, and pull over to take my picture in front of the world's biggest ball of packing tape. I want all those things to happen and they will, I can't stop them IF I start the typing in the first place. I'll just let them happen as a surprise.
After I put this little piece to bed and get warmed up I will meditate a little bit and see if that points me somewhere. It is so nice to see at least a little ways ahead. My headlights are dim but suffice to keep me on the road. I will try my hardest to pick an interesting path to follow.
When I was a kid and could daydream at will, I would try to pick the most exotic feelings I could. Since I could control my imagination and fool myself into coming along wherever I pointed it, I could imagine finding a paper bag stuff with money and actually feel the excitement that I imagined people felt when that happened to them. Isn't that a hoot? The payoff for me wasn't a bag of money, it was that emotion, however briefly I held onto it, that I'd found a bag of money.
The same went for anything I craved, anything I coveted, I could borrow that feeling for a minute maybe two. Back then I didn't really even need to close my eyes. I don't think I was special, any eight or nine year kid can do it. The emotion is, after all, a very important part of the things that we live through. If we really did find a bag of bucks, after a few minutes, all we would have left in our hands is that bag of money, the emotion would be gone. It might flicker a little, but it would depart, leaving us holding the bag.
I remember sitting in a classroom in Leavenworth Kansas. I was about 2/3s of the way back from the front. It was after lunch and the entire building had softened in the post-prandial hour. Floors were no longer solid, walls flowed like a mosaic, maintaining their full height in places and in others, sloping dangerously toward the floor. The teacher's voice had lost its timber. While he stood up there, talking about the discovery of the western United States. his mind too wandered to somewhere more desirable than a stuffy room filled with the smell of 40 somnolent kids.
The air in the building had stopped moving for a while, and while most of the students were sitting upright, they were no longer in the room either. I remember sitting there with my head propped on my hand, elbow on the desk, but I was standing in the back of a jeep careening down the street in front of the school along with the characters from a TV show. We were yelling and swerving to miss the bad guys who were coming from everywhere to get us. This joy ride was totally by choice. I planned it and I went there.
This jeep full of heroes, of which I was one, went up onto two wheels as we took a left hand turn the corner at breakneck speed, heedless of danger. The same corner at which I was hoping to be chosen to stand and hold out a flag on a stick as an exulted crossing patrol guard at the end of the school day. For the time being, I'd abandoned my dreams of glory in the service of the international crossing guard patrol, in order to indulge my need for excitement as a member of the Rat Patrol and make no mistake, it was worth it. That jeep ride went on for maybe 5 or 6 minutes, and I replayed it several times in a row, and it was just as exciting, just as memorable, as I imagined it would be.
If I survive, next month I turn 64 years old and I can still bring that ride to mind with only a little trouble. Of course, it's not as brilliant as it was them and even though I remember the ride, the memory lacks the one characteristic that made me choose to take it and remember it now -- the emotion. I remember the excitement I felt but I do not feel it now, and what is an emotion remembered but not felt? I can look at a picture of a crying man but not feel my heart break. That part of me that could conjure my imagination with enough force to create not a spark, but a conflagration of real emotion, that part of me is long gone. I lost it somewhere back when my mind became busy using my strong emotion against me, in adolescence.
I was so lucky to have been young once and to remember it. It is one of the things that support and bolster us as we grow old. That time represents a fraction of our lives as we age, but to me, there's no question it is the only foundation strong enough to support the burden of growing up.