Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Walk on the Mindless Side: Quelling the urge to run amok

As I exited the BART station Friday night, I rode the escalator behind a woman who, with her luggage in tow, upon rising into Union Square, lifted her chin and smiled as she took in the lights and the people swirling above.  I was struck by the number of times in the past I have had that same exact reaction.  Ephemeral, but what isn't?

Glen Berger, author of the play that led me to the city on Friday night, explored this theme of life being both a constant balance between knowing that everything is fleeting and meaningless, and that every mundane moment is filled with meaning.  In his "Note from the Playwright" he stated three facts that he keeps in the forefront of his mind as he writes:

"1)  The universe contains well over 500,000,000,000 galaxies with each galaxy containing over 1,000,000,000,000 starts, of which our vast, blazing, and life-bestowing one.
2)  The Earth is 4,600,000,000 years old, in which time....a dizzying, terrifying number of inhabitants...have all struggled to live from one hour to the next.
3) I will die.  I will be dead in 60 years, though it's entirely conceivable that I'll be dead before the week is out."
Hm.  He says, "I write to keep myself engaged with the Bewildering and Infinite." 

I write to keep myself honest.  The bewildering and infinite are elusive right now.  And, full disclosure?  I've hit a point of wanting to lay myself down in utter mindlessness.  All of my careful practice and cultivation notwithstanding, I want to watch a full season of Glee and drink a bottle of wine.  I want to get in my car and drive far and fast, away from humans, listening to a steady soundtrack of Rusted Root, and pitch a tent in the desert of southern Utah.  I want to say, "No, thank you though, I'd prefer not to spend my day in a hermetically sealed office with a gorgeous view of San Francisco bay."  I'd like to put on a t-shirt, shorts, and hiking boots and wander and wander until I can see things differently.  I want to say the f*** word, and I don't want to have to ground my thinking in any theoretical framework.  I've been fighting these urges to run amok for some time now.  I know a break is overdue. What is causing them to rear their ugly head at this exact moment is the slew of flight itineraries in the next few weeks to different places to do different tasks, all of which need to be prepared and practiced, all of which need to demonstrate that I'm smart and capable, none of which I'm feeling prepared, practiced, or terribly interested in, yet each of them is important to a future-Lisa (**hopefully I won't be dead before the week is out, and this future-Lisa will have a chance to thank me for my leg work).

So, although present-Lisa is unable to conjure the mojo she needs at this moment to fully dial in these experiences, future-Lisa will be really pissed if they don't go well.  So, there it is, that moment when life becomes so ephemeral that you talk about yourself in third person.  I need to conjure some awe and perspective.  I need to recapture my ability to get on the escalator, rise on up, and say, "Holy shit, this is my life?"  For now, though, I cut myself some slack, pour a glass of wine, cue some Rusted Root radio on Pandora, and remind myself that in a month and some change, present-Lisa will be running down a beach and swimming with sea turtles and saying any expletive she wants.  And she will be back in the first-person when she does this.

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