Permit me some time to indulge myself in escaping from the things that are in front of me. Laid out before me are decades of work doing things I can’t imagine. Peace is my prayer. Please, Lord, let there be peace, but the kind of peace that is joy and opportunity for everyone, not the peace of voices silenced by repression and extermination.
Let me walk the streets of a small city I once knew well, though it never knew me at all. Allow me to walk again as a young stranger, expectant of a perfect spring that would bloom into a million opportunities where I could see and know and possess the world. Don’t let me be stalled or waylaid by the vampires lurking in the shadows of these streets–the ones who snatched my youth away from me the first time around.
Oh, to be young again but not half as naive. To be full of hope for anything that could happen but not deluded into thinking everything would happen. Then, I can smell the first flowers of mid-March. I can feel the warm mist of the first spring precipitation. Within that humidity and greenery, my bones are softened where they had grown stiff, and some lusty young individual beckons to me to join in sweet fun.
I wouldn’t want to come back again if it meant my memory was completely wiped, and I had to start over with someone wiping my butt and teaching me how to read and write. Such a return would be almost hopeless–is there not anything I’ve learned in this life that I can take with me and apply it to a delicious, young life full of promise and backed by some means?
Isn’t that what most of us would want–the ability to waltz in and out of this or that life–sucking out all of the savory memories and flying away when things become old and rough? When governments become tyrannies of complete evil, or parents or lovers or friends do much the same. Then, it’s time to move on and live another life of ease and glamour inside another decade or century. Only the happiest moments and best times of the greatest lives for me. I don’t care if I am man or woman, as long as the pain and suffering are brief and mostly felt during periods preceding times of great glory. Sure, send me into battle in a great war, as long as I am one who makes out alive with only scars and stories to tell. Make me into a wealthy woman who travels and dines and drinks when and where she pleases, but don’t leave me to age or become the punching bag of the man who pays for my lifestyle. Once the awfulness starts up, please lift me out of that life, and drop me into another.
There is something about this present time period that feels fake and inauthentic–like life is only being lived halfway seriously. Is it the automation of everything, the connectivity of everyone, the abundance of information, the ease with which we can do so many things that once required effort? We don’t need to worry about film being developed, or a painful process of editing video across multiple tapes, or finding information using reference tomes and card catalogs. We don’t need to delay our gratification when connecting with others, and things and food and drinks are delivered to our doors almost instantly and cheaply.
The time period before WWII seems to be too rough of a time to live, at least for most people in most places. Too many diseases like polio and smallpox don’t have vaccinations. Dental work is crude and painful. People are mean and unforgiving in ways that are hard to imagine. Too much is expected of you, and too little is given in return. You die young and you receive next to nothing for your work and service. The time period after around 1995 seems to be too easy of a time to live–especially after the smartphone came along. Nobody has to work too hard for their entertainment, and everyone is rewarded for pressing a few buttons and sharing their picture or idea with their friends. Perhaps we will come to take all of it for granted too much, and forget the old ways. Nobody will remember how to fix a car, or boil coffee, or repair a pair of pants.
I feel most days like my life is inauthentic, but I think there is more to it than just the instant gratification technology, or my disconnect from common people and the land. Perhaps its the larger mentality of a throwaway culture–where everything including music and art and literature is consumed and forgotten. Maybe it’s simply my own consciousness, or the way my memories are bolstered and confused by digital images of ten to twenty years ago instead of fading film and photographs. Or it could be I’m experiencing would everyone living sedentary lifestyles has always experienced–unless I really make an effort to go run or work out, and unless I look closely at myself in the mirror, I really don’t feel the effects of aging deep inside of me. My internal clock says that I could be ten or even twenty years younger than I am, even though there are plenty of people younger than me who remind me that this isn’t so.
Of course, this is at least partly why we humans seem to be fixated on immortality. We are conscious of the idea of it, the possibility of it, and there are too many days that go by where we don’t struggle too much with thinking about what it means to be mortal. We live huge chunks of our lives as if we are going to live forever, until something serious comes along and lets us know on no uncertain terms that the end will come and come sooner than later. We don’t intentionally lie to ourselves–it is almost impossible to go around with the sense of one’s own mortality constantly present. It seems so much more natural to kind of forget about it until someone our age dies or we have a moderately serious health issue trip us up for a few days or weeks.