I’ve been feeling heavy lately. I don’t mean heavy as in “does the entire pumpkin pie I just ate make my ass look fat?” I mean heavy as if gravity has somehow chosen me for an experiment to see how much pressure a human being can take. It’s as if I can tangibly feel the weight of every year, day, minute and second I’ve been alive bearing down on my shoulders. I can sense each second piled on top of the next. I can feel myself getting heavier all the time as if I’m underwater and my limbs are difficult to move. My brain is finding it hard to cope with all this added weight. Scratching my head because there’s an itch seems to take a full minute’s worth of thought and effort.
In America, we have a day where we celebrate stealing land from indigenous peoples by killing birds and eating them, and the next day, we’re supposed to go shopping to excess. The whole holiday is about excess. Eating too much, sleeping too much, shopping too much. It’s an American tradition. Really though, Thanksgiving is supposed to be a day where we find all the things we are thankful for in our lives and celebrate them with those who are closest to us. Typical things Americans are supposed to be thankful for are family, friends, jobs, wealth, and if nothing else, health. I guess I haven’t found much to be thankful for this year.
When I was young and foolish and didn’t think about the future as something to plan for, but something that would happen forever away from now in a murky distant galaxy, I always thought that, if I survived, I’d be better off than I am. I thought I’d get the wild years under my belt and I’d settle down. I’d have a career and a savings account and a house, possibly even a husband, and maybe, if the stars aligned correctly and I could afford the team of nannies, even some offspring.
Well, it didn’t quite work out that way. As it turns out, the American dream, the dream of having a better life for your children than your own, is not something that comes easily. It’s not something that just happens to you. Well, at least it doesn’t come easily for most people–the 99% as we are so frequently referred to these days. The American dream is something that takes work and planning. Most of all, you must have a goal to aspire towards. You need a time-date stamp on your dream. I want to retire by the time I’m 60. I want to send my kids to college. I want to open my own store by spring. I have no goal. I have nothing to work towards.
When you think about all the possibilities that we Americans are afforded, well, it can be a bit overwhelming. American children can be anything from a fry cook to an astronaut, although, I fear our astronauting days are behind us with the manned space program closing down. When I grow up, I want to be President. That is an entirely possible goal–not necessarily probable, but at least possible. With all these opportunities, it’s hard to settle on just one, so I just never did. I have lived my life like a leaf on a river. It would swirl me over to the riverbank, hanging out in the same spot for a while, almost settling down, and then the current would rip me away to continue downriver. Eventually, that leaf will decay because that’s what all living matter does.
I suppose I’m just tired of swirling around. I look at all of these seconds that have collected on my shoulders and some of them mean a great deal, while most are just ordinary seconds. Some carry surprise, joy, love, raucous guffaws, contented sighs, smiles. Others hold anger, humiliation, boredom and disappointment, but they all add up. They are all me, my existence, for better or worse. So, I don’t want to shake them away, not even the bad ones, but eventually, they will be too much for me to carry. And by that time, I might still be swirling around on a riverbank without having had a single dream.