Let’s get one thing clear before you throw up your hands in disgust at the following rant: my to-do list is staying in the trash where it belongs. Controlling my destiny, or pretending I can, causes unnecessary sweat, worry, and callouses on the soft, tender balls of my otherwise lovely and well-proportioned feet. I am not going to climb onto the soapbox and announce to the world (or to that small, meek part of my personality that wants to just sit and play jacks in the sunshine) exactly what I need to accomplish in the next twenty seconds in order to create total personal happiness.
I found that fixating on what I was “supposed” to accomplish prevented me from enjoying what I was given, and enjoying gifts has become my mission statement the same way disguising cardboard as food is McDonald’s.
My theory goes like this. You can buy your favorite song on iTunes and listen to it on your iPod every hour of every day. But catching that favorite song on the radio brings you more pleasure. It’s about the word “catch.” We prefer the food on our date’s plate to our own, objects purchased at a savings to those we could more easily find at full price, and the unexpected pleasure of hearing a song we don’t own but still treasure. They come as gifts. We spend our entire life increasing our ability to acquire exactly the objects and experiences we think we want… but without those that are given to us, life loses luster.
For the past several months, I’ve looked inside the wrapped box in my hands and thought, “Wow, I didn’t realize I needed that- but it’s just the thing!” Right now, for instance, I’m wearing a lovely red cashmere sweater of a life. It surrounds me in rich color, caressing softness, and natural warmth.
The red sweater was the sort of surprise you only notice when you’re not busy shopping for the blue one on your to-do list. But I think, instead of a to-do list, I’d like to write a simple wish list like the ones we used to mail to Santa every December. On it is written one simple sentence: Could I have the matching hat, please?
I want the life I created in New York, embryo, badly coordinated, vodka-infused thing that it was, brought here in a crate and deposited in a flat in Totnes. I want to unpack the Pyrex, put Flip’s litter box in a warm place near the radiator, and set up my computer on a desk of my own choosing, preferably something a century old with peeling cream color paint and turned legs. Moreover, I want the money to buy the desk, the immigration status to keep my lease, and dammit, I want company. I want (drumroll please) a man-friend living there with me, contributing his own oddments, messes and explorations. I want someone there to be irritated by Flip. And I want it all paid for by the sort of low-key work I’m doing now, until someday, in a later fantasy, I pay for it by writing.
I know I rant about commitment a lot, but I see this fantasy as so outrageous, I may as well outfit it with not only the glass slippers and pumpkin carriage, but Prince Charming as well. I have no means, currently, to achieve any of this.
But this is a blog about wants, about items on a wish list. I don’t want to go back to New York, work forty hours a week, abandon the friendships I’ve made here, or live in that two-bedroom in Brooklyn. I want to babysit and write, watch relationships grow, and live in Exeter or Dartmouth.
I think Santa, the Powers That Be, Fate, gods and goddesses, even little leprechauns who live in cereal, do what they have to do. We will miss some gifts thrown our way while fixating on achievements or desires that have nothing to do with our life’s purpose. But I hold these truths to be self-evident. A double bed, the ability to support pets, host guests, and walk into the kitchen looking like Jimi Hendrix after a three-day bender, are undeniably better than a twin bed, a budget the size of most ten year olds, and a kitchen your boss could walk into at any moment. I liked supporting myself properly, I’d like to do it again, and moreover, however impossible it may seem now, I’d like to do it on this side of the Atlantic.
Get me a stamp!