When you are 19 and have never been to LA you call your uncle (me) and he sets some things up.
So What Exactly Do You Want to Do?
So what exactly is it you want to do?
When asked this question, honesty is likely not the best tactic.
I am usually a complete supporter of honesty as the best policy. For instance if I ask someone to watch my children I would much rather have an honest, “I do not like your children,” than to have one think that sentence silently but only say, “sure”. I appreciate the disingenuous individual’s intent to be nice and do a favor, but the end result is normally a resentful friend and my children subjected to an evening with an individual who does not like them. In such an instance, just say no. I appreciate an individual who says no; it means I can trust them when they say yes.
Sitting in a chair before a person of some power, evaluating me for possible employment or maybe just assisting me in gaining employment, I have been asked, “So what sort of work are you looking for exactly?”
Were I to be honest I would reply, “Anything that provides a paycheck and does not require me to perform tasks I despise.” That would be shallow truth. Make no mistake, it is truth. I have had one of the jobs I say I do not want and all involved would agree it was a mistake.
Deeper truth would be me expressing my desire to achieve some tangible but unnamed greatness that I have fooled myself into believing I am capable. Somewhere deep inside I have this nagging idea that I am capable of contributing to society in a way greater than a blip in mid-management or humbly bringing checks back to my wife and children after a day’s toil in cubicle fields.
I want to shove American society toward racial inclusiveness and crush the obstacles standing in the way of poor people’s pursuing opportunities for self determination. I want to write the next great American novel, paint a work of art worthy of a museum or maybe just mass popular consumption, and I want to play middle linebacker for the Bears.
I want to see every world capital. Istanbul, Jerusalem, Rome, Buenos Aries, Rio, Delhi, and Cleveland. I have this idea where I throw a dart at a map, where the dart hits becomes my starting point. Me and my friends then fly to that point spin a bottle, and hike 100 miles in that direction making as straight a line as possible, just for the experience of it. I also want to spend a month in Tonga playing rugby on a local men’s club. That one may need to be last on my list.
I have no desire to ride motocross, which for some reason makes me think I should at least try it, but do want to jump out of an airplane. I want to sail from Maine to Miami. I want to learn how to sail. I want to spend evenings at cafe tables having great conversations with my wife and Saturday mornings going out to breakfast with the whole family.
I don’t really want to be famous or rich, but I do want to live free from financial restrictions and be able to influence greater society.
That is what I want to do.
Sitting in a chair in front of a potential employer I can’t say all that. I have to say, “sure I’d love to watch your kids.”
Where I Am is Not Where I’m From.
What do you see in your day? Does it matter?
Sometimes you have to look despair in the face to find the beauty. Most of us never do that. Despair’s gaze is incredibly uncomfortable.
If you do look you may find more than you assume. Ugly doesn’t go away, but you find there is more to it.
From decay can grow new life. I see it every day. If I did not look, I would never see it. I see a lot of things.
The dark lump at the bottom of the subway platform was a man. He lay crumpled up, shaking and mumbling. People just walked past and did nothing. I did like all the rest. The next day I walked past the same spot and he was still there. I did the same thing as the day before. It is one of the reasons things don’t change. The lump at the bottom of the stairs doesn’t change and neither do I.
Just around the corner, on the same block, are the kids. I remember the game they are playing, I played it when I was their age. The ball bounces off the wall and you have to catch it within the first bounce. If you don’t, or if you touch the ball without catching it, you have to run and touch the wall before someone else can throw the ball against the wall. If the ball beats you to the wall, strike one. On the third strike you assume the position; both hand on the wall, legs spread, and this time the ball is thrown at you and not the wall. You just have to stay still and take it.
We used to love that game. The kids are laughing and joking with each other. I’m no where near where I grew up but it takes me back. I smile.
What do we see? As I look around I wonder if others see what I do. The deeper I look the more I realize that looking rarely lets you see the whole picture.
The ruined green door does not tell me what it once was or how it came to be that way. I have seen other green doors before but I have no idea if their stories are the same.
What do we see when we look around, if we even choose to look? Normally we see whatever we choose to see, no matter what is really there.
Beauty and despair sometimes share the same space.
As I walk and I look, and sometimes I see, I like to think I am learning. I get caught up in what I learn and what I see when others don’t, till I realize, that like all the rest, I just keep walking.