Choosing to thrive

“Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack
I went out for a ride and I never went back

I met her in a Kingstown bar
We fell in love I knew it had to end
We took what we had and we ripped it apart
Now here I am down in Kingstown again

Everybody needs a place to rest
Everybody wants to have a home
Don’t make no difference what nobody says
Ain’t nobody like to be alone
Everybody’s got a hungry heart.”

Springsteen lyrics done in homage to my beloved Bill. *mwah!*

Because tossing $20 in the gas tank every three days doesn’t hurt enough (Jesus H, $2.79/gallon?!?! Fuck!!!), I took my happy ass out for a ride today. Not an exotic one — certainly not to Baltimore — but in fact to the Kingstowne area of Alexandria because the cats needed litter and being in the ghetto Wallyworld there usually makes me feel so much better about my life.

And while I was out, I went to my favorite playground — not my favorite park, though, the one I abandoned to avoid some idiot who works there who officially garners the title of World’s Worst Date. But I went to the adjacent playground, where I love to hang out on the swingset. I swear, I have made nearly every major life decision on one of those things — it’s like my cure-all for whatever ails me.

Today it was too hot to swing toward the stars, but I did sort of hang upside down and let the blood (and hopefully some brilliant thoughts) dump into my head. And while I don’t know that I came to any major conclusions, I did get a semblance of a blog entry in my head.

The thing is, there are two types of people in this world. There are the people who, come hell or high water, do not give up on their dreams. They know what they want and they know they will reach them, sooner or later. The pictures in their heads might change throughout the years, but the images only get bigger, better, more vivid, more real. They are the people who — once they’ve reached the top of their respective games — others reminisce about, “Oh yeah, he never gave up on his dreams. She always knew this day would come. He never lost sight of his goals. She always had faith.”

The other type of people are the, “Fuck it, it’s never going to come. I’m just happy to survive without anything of significance happening in a day. This is as good as it gets — what’s the point of hoping for more? My luck, I’d lose what little I have.”

More often than not, I’ve found myself in the latter category. And if I don’t believe in me, who the hell else is going to?

The thing is, it pains me that losing one’s idealism is every bit considered a “rite of passage” just like losing one’s virginity. Both are probably equallly abysmal when they happen, and it’s impossible to get either one back.

Or is it? I mean, I’ve heard of people getting stitched up to regain the former (that’s called having more money than brains), but could we have some sort of theoretical surgical intervention to restore hope to our hearts?

‘You know, some of us are still on that dream trip.’
The quote above came from Savannah (Whitney Houston) in “Waiting to Exhale.” And one I don’t let get too far from my mind.

Nothing revives my convictions more than seeing and hearing people — with heads just as full of thoughts and dreams and desires as mine — being afraid to let their imaginations run amok. I mean, when you think about it, the super-successful people to whom I referred earlier got where they did because they had a plan. Sure, some people fall into their success and we all scratch our heads, wondering why they deserved it when the rest of us work so hard and seemingly get nowhere. But I’ve learned to not begrudge people any good fortune they may achieve — let them try to hang on to it, and we’ll see whether or not it should have ever found them in the first place.

For the rest of us, I assume some degree of success would challenge us to not only cling to it, but also to surpass it. I imagine it’s like getting high — you only really realize the pain of your humdrum existence when you come down. You want to score another sensation as soon as possible. Like, what if I actually finished one of the dozens of books that I’ve started writing throughout the years? Wouldn’t I just be racing to do it again — bigger and better the next time around?

And so, like there are two types of people, there are also two types of coping mechanisms. You can either take the randomless series of heartbreaks and conundrums that are peppered with occasional highs and turn them into inspiration, or you can wallow in your existential discontent and resign yourself to getting the occasional kicks if they happen to come. It’s the difference between pioneering your own path and not looking back or else sitting inert and waiting for life to happen to you.

The way I am looking at my life is this: Shit happens, whether I want it to or not. The universe is watching me to see how I handle it. And this whole pending move thing may actually be good for me. Why? Because I’ve been getting by, and that’s all. I’ve been so happy lately to survive that I’ve been afraid to make waves, lest I lose what I’ve fought and clawed to achieve thus far. But am I happy? For now, sure. But that’s because I’ve achieved the picture in my mind of what I wanted.

But I’ve got new pictures that I want to make into reality. That’s the thing with actual photographs — you always want to go back to however happy you looked on film at that particular moment. But with mental pictures, you want to be as happy as you seem in your own little fantasies.

And like I always say, my dreams are as good as anyone else’s — therefore, why shouldn’t I feel free to dream them? And not just when I’m down — I need to also dream while I’m happy because that will take them even further into the stratosphere. Because those are the best visions — when I’m happy, I want to find ways to prolong it … intensify it. Imagine not just feeling happy, but being happy.

With the pending move, I am hoping the hardship it temporarily brings will be like an investment into my future — my long-awaited, blissful future. Maybe I will move into the apartment or condo where I will live for the next few years (instead of moving every one to two years like I currently do). Maybe I will run into the love of my life in the same building or in the local grocery store there. Maybe my attitude will improve so much that I will make waves where and when they need to be made — and maybe I will be able to surf on those waves instead of being pummeled by them, like always seems to happen otherwise.

Maybe, just maybe, I’ll feel at home — long enough to want to stay. Maybe if I can put down some roots, I can finally start to do some real growing. Maybe those books will come out of me in the right environment, and maybe all that has been eluding me thus far will finally know where to find me because I’m going to walk right up to it and announce that I’m in the neighborhood.

The universe positions us “just so.” We aren’t supposed to understand it until the time is right and all the puzzle pieces interlock — probably all at the same time. No matter how I’ve struggled to patch up all the holes in my heart, only for a leak to spring somewhere else while I wasn’t looking (like right now, as a matter of fact), maybe it’s the universe’s way of kicking me in the ass and making sure I’m not staying where I’m not supposed to.

All right, already, Let’s get this show on the road, then. And as a bonus, I won’t have to drive past the same places that used to bring me pain — a new start might be scary, but it also might just be what the doctor ordered to let me leave the dead, rotted-out piece of my heart behind so that new things can flourish in its place.

I look forward to the adventure. Not the move itself, of course, but to whatever is destined to follow. …

On iTunes: Minnie Driver, “Hungry Heart”

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