Some turtles went on a picnic. It took them ten days to get there, and when they arrived, they realized they’d forgotten the bottle opener. So they told the littlest one to go back for it. He said, “No, as soon as I go, you’ll eat all the sandwiches.” They promised him they wouldn’t, so he left. Ten days passed, twenty days, thirty days. Finally, they were so hungry, they decided to eat the sandwiches. As soon as one took a bite, the little turtle came out from behind a rock and said, “See? That’s why I’m not going!”
Much of this man’s life tends to be a struggle to realize again that there is another reality happening outside of his own bubble of existence. Right now, someone is having a perfect drink with someone in a loud bar, wishing the music wasn’t so loud. Someone else is very late for an important interview that, if botched, will jeopardize his entire professional future. Someone else is very bored. Someone is eating a bagel that is burned and has the wrong kind of cream cheese on it. Another person is in love with his new car. Someone hates his hometown and his parents. And maybe another person right now is sitting in room without pictures, wishing she were somewhere else.
Think of the last time you were with someone, or a group of friends, and you received a continuing stream of text messages from a friend who really wanted to get a hold of you. And instead of returning the messages, like the friend you have shown yourself to be, you ignored them without hesitation. You were having too much fun to care. Then, the next week maybe you were trying to call a friend, and there was no answer, over and over, and you felt an over-dramatic sense of betrayal. I think the dichotomy of these moments is interesting, or at least instructional, because it is evidence of the relentless subjectivity that sucks the soul out of an otherwise fulfilled life.
In our life-long, complicated web of existence, we encounter a near-endless array of human interaction possibilities. One person feels euphoric, while another swims in a frenetic whirlpool of fear and doubt. Another is completely content for an unknown reason. We regret what we’ve done; we react to others with meanness or apathy. We apologize. We meet people, we forget names, remember faces. We lust, we hate, love, block out. We give too many gifts, too little, or nothing. We wish we had given something. We feel helpless. We ostracize and de-friend. We protect ourselves, and we expose ourselves. We move on. We don’t move on.
Too much of this man’s life has been spent wondering what others are doing and why they are doing it; too many hours and minutes have been spent inside the confines of the mind, while the world spins and zips around, colorfully, in all directions. Some people seem to have learned this lesson as children, or have just always known it. But it is something that I must learn over and over; I need a schmaltz vaccine, or a sentimentality jacket. But for now I’ll have to resort to my own self-instruction and rote life lesson memorization, like writing, 100 times on the blackboard, “I will not shoot spit balls in class” .
In the last few weeks I have learned, again, that there is only what is happening now. Said plainly and pragmatically, over-romanticism, in general, has very limited use or reason, if any at all. To enjoy the moment: it’s about the only clichéd action that I have no problem perpetuating. To my friends that have accidentally shown me this, one more time, only by living naturally: Thank you.