We Won’t Go Until We Get Some
As a child, you were probably encouraged this time of year to make a list of your wants. Why not try your hand at it now? Make a list. Check it twice. What did you leave out? Global peace? Affordable organic groceries? A sporty little convertible you can corner hard in? Then take a minute alone (say, in the bath) to consider your wants. Dwell on them. Flesh them out. I’m certain they’re valid.
You know the expression, “Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy?” Replace Mama with “Me.” Reality is subjective, and your particular reality comes first. Take care of it. Once I owned a Mazda in Cali that a friend described thusly: “It’s not so much a car as a … process.” That process took me all kinds of places, lit. and fig. Sometimes you don’t even know why you want something. Run with it. Maybe your wanting knows better than you do.
Prison was, for me, a theme this month. Prison reform in New York State brought to light the sick horrors of solitary confinement. Then PBS’ The Brain With David Eagleman explained how Alcatraz prisoners thrown into The Hole for weeks on end had very realistic hallucinations despite complete sensory deprivation. Because of the brain’s natural drive for experience, after a time they saw things in The Hole as if they were 100% happening. The brain just created them. One man “saw” someone flying a kite. Proof, in my opinion, that we are wired to want, and to make our wants real. Next, Friend A visited Friend B incarcerated in a low-security prison. Friend A’s post-visit report, which I was dreading, ended with: “It wasn’t awful. It didn’t seem to be much worse than being in the military.” Still.
I’ve known five decent people who have done time. I can imagine few things worse. But there are prisons so many of us make of our own design. An aversion to forming lasting good relationships. A fear of leaving bad ones. The incapacity to see what we’ve done wrong, or to apologize for it. Obsession with our appearance. Addictions to substances, food, gaming (Sugar CRuSH!), Facebook, you name it. A cage of crippling beliefs (that our bodies must age poorly, or that the world is going to hell in a handbasket … so why even try?) confines us. There are countless prisons.
Isn’t this, the Season, with a new year around the corner and long nights, the perfect time to break out? I for one plan to do and see things in new way. Won’t you join me? We’ll tunnel out together by the light of the moon. Make that a supermoon. I’ve got a spoon hidden under my mattress. It’s sturdy and I intend to wear it down to a nub. We can take turns.
This year has been one of distressing changing traditions for many. But a no-nonsense Philadelphian I know said about my 3 a.m. worrying habit, “Knock it off. Just snap out of it.” So there’s no snow. There is still that gorgeous winter light. Bask in it. Surround yourself with some assemblage of [good] family and [good] friends and create your Wish List for 2016.
Not a tiresome New Year’s Resolution list about self-deprivation. A list of what you’d like to do or have that’s fun (remember fun?) and rewarding. Your list of wants. Often we hear things like, “If humans spent half the time we spend devising ways to kill and torture people, we’d have solved [x] by now.” I’m putting that on my list: That mankind spends half as much time devising ways to kill and torture people. And solves [x].
Your wants seem unattainable? List them anyway, then don’t give up. I mean, don’t wish you were 30 again; pick something within the basic rules governing earth. But don’t stop at 2 or 3 wants. Keep going. Your attained wants are good for all of us in the interconnected machinery of life. You are an important cog. No cog left behind, I say. No want too insignificant. Wish hard.
Go out into 2016, dear Reader, and prove the naysayers wrong. Go get yours, whatever it is you want. Stubbornly refuse to not get it. Don’t go until you get some. Get some. Good day.
Quote of the Season: “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” – Clarence, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”