Some have said that the journey is more important than the destination.
To be honest, I think that I last saw that expression on a coffee mug or some random item that takes a cliché that actually has some meaning to it, and places it on something that is an accessory to a mundane routine, like waking us up with enough organic coffee beans to get to work without causing a four car pileup.
I think that it is a tremendous analogy for adult life.
If children are the dreamers of this world, and have that “when you wish upon a star” mentality that believes that their families are perfect cohesive units, they will grow up to be firefighters, and that with a Tiny-Tim like plea, God will “bless us everyone”, then adults have evolved into the Ebenezer Scrooge’s that are so quick to spout out a “Bah Humbug.”
We take the slices of life, and turn them into the discarded garnishes that lay in or on the rim of the glass of our mind-numbing booze drinks.
This is the 100th column that I have written for this little publication by the sea, and though I would never expect a ticker tape parade or anything remotely close to that, I mention the century mark because in looking back, I wonder if I’ve had any epiphanies in writing this column, as much as I wonder if anyone was actually enlightened or entertained in reading it. Maybe in some way, you hope that writing down the thoughts in your head will not only be therapeutic to your own disheveled mess of a consciousness but you also hope that it gave some folks a different point of view to dissect or (probably in most cases) totally disregard.
At least they had a different option to mull over than which happy hour to attend.
I admit that I don’t have this world figured out any more that any of you, or anymore than when I started using this pen name almost 10 years and four publications ago. Sometimes looking back gives you a nice look at where you’ve been and where you’ve come.
Yet regardless of how often you look back with the greatest of hindsight’s 20/20 clarity, and regardless of how much of a death grip you have on reality, we are all equally clueless to where we are going, and that is truly what we all are wondering isn’t it? That’s why freaky old ladies with tarot cards can make a living, or in the Ocean City version, Russian girls with a penchant for the dramatic and the Boardwalk lifestyle.
My grandparents came for a visit this past weekend, and brought with them about a half a dozen plastic bins filled with what could essentially be described as my childhood. My parents moved out west after I had already left home and all of my things, from baseball and hockey card collections to my old trophies had been neatly cataloged into six blue bins that were undoubtedly purchased from Wal-Mart for a few dollars apiece, and placed under a tarp in the middle of the garage of my grandparent’s farmhouse.
My grandmother said something to me, knowing that my house is already scattered with boxes from my recent move. She said, “some rainy day you can go through those and have a good laugh.”
As I basically skimmed over the top of a few of these boxes and after finding all sorts of things that I had decided to save and treasure, I realized that you can get so caught up in the struggle for right and wrong that you don’t necessarily see with clarity what you are fighting for. You can get so caught up in black and white that you no longer see colors, and you can get so caught up in trying to be understood, that you don’t even understand what it is that you are trying to say.
I guess seeing your 10th grade yearbook photo can show you a lot of things: just how cool you weren’t, how cool you still aren’t, and how at the root of it, we just really want to be liked and have someone that we look up to tell us that it is going to be okay. Or, it can just make you realize that you didn’t heed the advice of your 12th grade lab partner’s parting wish to “stay cool forever” and “follow your dreams” like it was inscribed in your yearbook.
Seriously, did anyone really plan to be where they are?
Over the course of 100 columns, I’ve gotten quite political, and anyone that’s read this, including my Dubbya-loving banker buddy in his Cheney-like cubicle/bunker, will tell you, I’m “left” cause I would hate myself to actually be “right.” Yet, politics is crap. It’s essentially a big cockfight of suits and lobbyists engaged in a very eloquent game of “Yo Momma” on the steps of the Capitol. I wonder sometimes why I even bother with it.
I exhaust myself with this notion of somehow wanting things to be fair, and just, in an imperfect world, where finding the meaning in the madness is about as easy as understanding the game of cricket. Yet, I realize that in these heavy times where even eight year olds have a cell phone and a pharmacist, I find myself looking back and being drawn to things that I thought were too simple to be considered of value. Things like old houses, the farmer’s almanac and how older folks handle life’s curveballs with a very understated sense of grace.
It’s like you rush through your whole life to get to a certain place like adulthood, college, Prague, or the upper middle class; and then when you get there, all you want to do is go back.
I’ve heard people say that Ocean City is the “land of misfit toys.” That doesn’t sound like a place that goes through old pictures very often. It sounds like we were all running from something, and at some point, found our selves in this “Endless Summer.”
If dreams are just the things that we haven’t done yet, then memories are the things that our minds won’t let us forget.
Maybe we should head down to the basement where we keep our childhood in neat storage bins.
If nothing else, it’s good for a laugh on a rainy day.
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