Thursday, August 21, 2008

Today's Thoughts

Right now, I am at the beach.

It has been years since I've seen the ocean. About ten years ago, my sister and her friends rented a house and invited me to come along. Even though I had come into my own with an independent sense of who I was, the thrill was big. All my life I looked up to these people, they were smart, funny, ironic. When I had the opportunity to hang out with them in middle school, that was the time I would listen to them riffing off of one another. I learned how to advance my own sense of humor through them. It wasn't enough make a fart sound for a cheap must be farting out "The Wasteland".

That was the best vacation I could recollect up until that time. No one was expected to do anything, or wear shoes. It was leisurely in a way that I had never understood leisure before. When you are young, so much free time is devoted to social engagements (and the inevitable social anxiety), that there is no attention paid to the simple pleasures of sitting and watching the ocean edge in and out, telling stories with friends.

Many have said it far better than I will, but, in essence, it's good for the soul.

I don't suppose one can look out to the sea and not have some thoughts rolling back and forth. It's funny, the things that attach themselves to driftwood and rise to the surface.

I have a couple fairly benign ones:

1. I'm not one to think that we should go back to the 80's. That decade has had it's time as well as it's nostalgic comeback, and now we should let the poor girl rest in peace. I will say, though, that I don't think that any decade has suffered quite the brutal backlash that the 80's has. One sure way to get anyone to disavow pretty much anything is to associate it with a piece of 80's kitsch - Desperately Seeking Susan, Spandau Ballet.

I can't say I blame them. The 80's were the last bastion of runaway enthusiasm and over the top emotion. Culturally, I equate our embarrassment with the feeling a group of 13 year old girls has the day after a big slumber party: everyone is so tired, sort of nauseated, and feels as though they shared too much with the other girls during the late night confessionals that are bound to happen as everyone is swept up in the tide of gut churning excitement. Someone will cry. Someone will feel above it all. But in the end, those secrets were real.

It is only natural that we, as a culture, would have some misgivings over such an exuberant use of neon.

2. When I am listening to music, I am always doing a big dance number in my mind.

3. Ironing out the human personality. I am always at odds with myself over the human idea of happiness. What does that mean? Does it mean a world free from confrontation, elysian peace as we rock ourselves to the grave in an easychair?

Frankly, that idea bores the shit out of me. Nor does it exist, but so often it seems like that's the goal. That all the conflict surrounding us, the inner and outer turmoil we face is just an obstacle on the way to the ultimate goal of peace.

I don't pooh-pooh that goal. It's noble, I think, to wish for inner and outer peace. But what about the "right now", when peace seems so far out on the choppy sea.

People will do a lot of things to avoid conflict, to dodge the idea of change and potentially move into an area of discomfort. Advertising (and I'm sure I'll go off on it soon enough) sells us the idea of a perfect life in which we are free from the judgments and motivations of others and we can bike with our two perfectly behaved children, and drive, and swing, and eat mounds of onion rings, and call with unlimited minutes, all in a consequence free environment.

But what fun is that? Stories that are thrilling to me tell the tale of conflict, consequence and resolution. They certanly don't tell me the stories of some dude getting up one day, turning on the TV and ordering a P'zone.

Is it just in our nature to war with ourselves over whether or not we want comfort or conflict? Are we that polarized (bi-polar...heh, heh.)? There is a happy medium. Most people don't dwell in this state of paralyzed inner strife. But I wish I knew better how to navigate that area between the two, without being haunted by the ideals sold to me by the pharmaseutical companies.

4. When you are on the bus or EL or whatever, imagine that everyone on it is smiling a huge grin at you. That's pretty good for a laugh.

5. A peach, when just ripe enough, is the most perfect fruit on this Earth.

No comments:

Add to Technorati Favorites