In my more maudlin moments, and I seem to be having in inordinate amount of those lately (more so when I have to start work at 4 AM) due to entering my second month in search of a decent paying job with semi-normal hours and a little (okay, I’d prefer a lot of) room for advancement. Frankly, I get pretty depressed. I mean, having those academic conversations with myself about how much would I really be missed if I just … well … I’ll just say that today I pondered much my yearly earnings would match up against the life insurance policy my dad has on me. That’s right, the old “I’m worth more dead than alive” pity party. Don’t worry, I said it was an academic debate I was having with myself on virtually no sleep. Which, by the way, seems to be my go-to mode these days. I maintain a fairly large amount of calm and tranquility, but bubbling about three layers below the surface is a boiling lava pit of stress and anxiety about being my age with no marketable skills, a sizeable amount of cognitive dysfunction and really nothing but drive, passion, compassion and a willingness to learn to any job I interview for and it keeps up at weird hours. An old-timer recommended I definitely shouldn’t be thinking of quitting smoking during this stressful period and he’s probably right. And that’s another thing, I’m not even getting interviews. Despite my college degree from a prestigious Jesuit university and my four years of working as a staff writer, I’ve spent the last eight literally dealing with dog poop and my resume reflects that. So I figure it stands to reason that I get pretty down on myself, alternating between cursing myself and shaking my fist at the mysterious, monolithic specter of The Human Resources Department. It would be a little easier to handle if the reasons weren’t so numerous (you can tack on not having a girlfriend and only seeing your friends maybe once a week for a couple hours to the list too).
I’ll repeat something just so there’s no confusion. I am NOT thinking of taking myself out, okay? Just so we’re clear. Just like I’m not thinking of drinking again. It’s just that that is the place where my mind goes when the demons come. No more and no less.
I’m not a weirdo or anything. Yet it seems I have a soft spot for the younger people among us just out having fun. At least, it looks like they’re just having fun to us, their elders. I think they are tapping in to something that I, in my advanced years (I know, I’m not that old, but I’m old enough) have lost touch with. It’s something that should live in our hearts regardless of how many times we’ve been on this rock’s carousel journey around that great ball of fire in the sky. I got in my car yesterday and was about to close the door to run some errand and saw this girl hula-dancing (there’s probably a proper name for what she was doing, but “hula-dancing” is what the printer in my brain spit out in big, multi-colored block letters the moment I saw her).
She was, in that moment, completely filled with that something. It’s the same thing that made my roommate stop his car one afternoon to watch a couple little league teams on a baseball diamond. He didn’t know any of the kids or even who was playing. He just stopped to watch the ballgame. It’s more than seeing the beauty and the innocence. Innocence is too easy of a term to apply and it’s not exactly accurate. Really, it’s awe. Awe at the purity, the utter single-mindedness of the truest sense of the word “play.” Many of us forget how to play somewhere along the way. Jobs, kids, wives, husbands, catastrophe, death, and that most dirty of dirty words: multi-tasking. These all play a part in robbing us of joy, wonder and simple exalted amusement. It’s the simple, thin, scarlet poetry book within the staggering encyclopedic volumes of our everyday life. If we’re lucky, and we’re looking, we can find it again. For my part, thank father God and sonny Jesus I still recognize it when I see it.
I’m thinking about a lot of things right now. With some, the answers are simple. With others, they are decidedly not. And they all deserve due process of my deliberation. But the fact that I noticed the Sunshine Hula-Dancer, stopped to talk to her and asked to take her picture for my blog (she told me she was thinking of starting a blog too. Hey, y’know, why not? In this day and age of GoFundMe and Kickstarter and pre-pubescents claiming the title of Chief Executive Officer, why not indeed?) means I’m definitely not so far gone that the joy and the beauty has hidden itself from me completely. You should try to find that something in your everyday day life, you really should.