My boyfriend and I, back in high school, used to ride our bikes down to the canal and lie on the grass while the stars came out. We’d talk about space and UFO’s and what we thought the year 2000 would bring. Back then, when my body and mind were fifteen, the year 2000 was mythically distant, more of an “if” than a “when.” It would likely never come. After all, we’d NEVER be forty! And, we’d always be good friends…
We lost track of each other, of course. I remembered those conversations, the things we thought we’d figured out, and I looked him up in 1990. I learned that my long-haired British born boyfriend had joined the U.S. army, served abroad, come home with a bad leg, a devoted Asian wife and a psychotic paranoia. He didn’t remember the boy I knew at all.
But for me, all those starry nights stayed on and became part of who I would be, decades later. Back then, we were certain that we’d be scooting about in hover cars, Jetsons-style, have robots sweeping our floors, laboratories on Mars and amusement parks on the moon. We thought people would live to be two hundred and the forty we’d never reach would be, well, young.
Well, we nearly have robots sweeping our floors. My vacuum cleaner is actually pretty damned smart.
We didn’t anticipate personal computers in millions of homes, an internet that allows instant conversations between persons continents apart, the mapping of the human genome, AIDS, cars with navigation systems, polymerase chain reaction, video gaming, blue Gatorade or turning forty.
The things that we didn’t expect far outnumber anything we anticipated, though a vital space program would sure be appreciated. I really don’t enjoy telling Orion that spaceships aren’t real.
For years I operated on the premise of my artistic dreams. Sometimes to the demise of my health, sometimes to the demise of my finances, and sometimes, to the degree that I’ve been called a visionary. I followed that vision in everything I did, sometimes not even seeing the day I was moving through. My life and my art seemed two separate entities. Eventually I looked around, noticed what time it was, and realized that I most likely wasn’t going to complete the script I’d written for my life. It was quite a shock, actually, and knocked me about for several months. I wondered how I’d failed, how I’d failed to see that I was failing, and how the hell did it get to be 2000?
It was very depressing. I was very depressed. I was so disappointed that I didn’t want to create any more. I thought about lying on cool grass under the stars and dreaming about the futures that never came, and my own, that had arrived seemingly unannounced. I sort of shut down. I spent a lot of time underwater, and sitting quietly, and being instead of doing. I read. I walked. Sometimes I panicked. Sometimes I cried. Mostly I laughed at what a fool I was. Finally, I got a good view of the now that is nothing that I’d expected and is everything I did not.
I’ve decided that it’s probably a good idea to not worry terribly about trying to control what will or won’t happen. I’ve decided that it’s also probably a good idea to keep doing what I’m doing and watch to see what does happen. I’m thinking that things will be a lot more interesting from here on out. Time will tell. It always does, dammit. Besides, I like living without the script. It takes a certain talent to do improvisation well, don't you think?
Is it Sunday night already? Well, time for tucking the Orion unit in, some hot chocolate and some time well spent reading a bit of Gene Wolfe.
Tonight's image was inspired by one of my favorite SpongeBob episodes...
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