I want to make friends with an unknown person, maybe somewhere down by the border between Texas and Mexico. Maybe we can sit somewhere and find a place to have a good bowl of soup. I can think of a thousand things like this as dreams or ideas, stories, or pieces of my next project as a work in progress. I say this because I, myself, am a work in progress. I am a body that continues to change. I am a mind that learns and grows. I am a child too. I am a dreamer in the heart of a person who is on the verge of turning 50.
By the way, do you remember when we were kids?
How old are you, six?
No, I’m six and a half!
Or, maybe it was even six and three-quarters at times.
Kids used to say things like this.
And I wonder if they still do.
I think we dropped the half’s or the three-quarters when age became connected to status. I suppose this is when maturity was butchered by the idea of fitting in. I think we forgot about the things that made us youthful or smile.
Say, like, when we were in grade school and everyone played a game of kickball at lunchtime. Or, maybe it wasn’t kickball for some people. But still, there was a time when we were young enough to play a game and enjoy ourselves without being reminded that life is still going on.
We spend so much time trying to grow up or learning how to “be cool” that we often forget who we are or how to sit back and have fun. Another thought is we spend so much time trying to protect ourselves from the end results of emotion and feelings that we live a certain way for protection.
I say this, not because I’ve forgotten the meaning of fun or how to have fun; but more, I say that fun is an essential part of life. I say this because life has a way of getting too busy. Time moves far quicker than we think. I say that joy, happiness and laughter are all essential items of our emotional food groups.
I say that we need this.
We need this like we need air to breathe or water to drink. We need to laugh, to go crazy, to let our hair down (so-to-speak) and carry on or howl at the moon and dream, sing or dance. These things are food to our spirit. And I get it, there are times when life can appear to be a little spiritless.
I grant that there are times when life can appear unenthused or uninspiring, and even deflating, which leaves us doubtful. I can say there are times when the ideas in our head are like arrows that shoot down the lofty dreams of our imagination.
Occasions arise when our moods run away from us and next, the thought machine produces an energy, which is otherwise counterproductive.
We find ourselves sinking into the emotional quicksand or depressive thinking – and it seems like the harder we try to escape, the harder it is to break free and the deeper we sink.
This is the opposite of joy or hopefulness. Instead, we sink into the joyless abyss of hopelessness. Or, more accurately, we sink into the exact opposite of what we truly want. I say this because or perhaps, this is summarized by our confused idea of what we believe we may or may not deserve.
I mentioned the emotional food groups such as happiness or joy, laughter, or love, cheer and wonder. I mention them as a means to draw attention to the emotional appetite. I say this because there is the saying you are what you eat. Remember?
Eat healthy, be healthy. Or, if we go back to when we were kids, there were sayings like, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” This was not altogether convincing to me when I was growing up but by now, I’m sure you understand the point.
We are what we consume. Eat good, feel good. Right?
We are products of our environment. Right?
Well, take this for example: There was a time when I fished a small pond that was near my house. I was very young at the time and on early summer mornings, I would gather my things and fish the little pond in Eisenhower Park. The color of the pond was a light green and the smell of the water was not nauseating but it wasn’t the purest of smells either.
One of my trips produced a decent sized catfish. So, of course, I wanted to bring the fish home. I was excited to bring the catfish to my Father so that first, he could be proud of me. Second, I could offer a gift and earn my Old Man’s attention and third, I could offer my Father a meal. I saw this as a valuable trade and something that would make me more interesting to The Old Man.
As for myself, I was not a fish-eater. At least not at the time. Instead, I brought the fish home for my Father to eat, which he did (as a good sport).
The Old Man filleted the fish. He placed the fillets in some tinfoil with lemon juice, some butter, and maybe some paprika. He cooked the fish on the barbecue in front of me and when finished, The Old Man unfolded the tinfoil.
He took a few bites as a sign of support but the fish was inedible. “It tastes like mud,” said The Old Man. His facial expression showed the displeasure from the taste, which made sense because the pond was far from clean. The water was mainly stagnant and green, which meant the fish took on the flavor of its surroundings. He taught me about the importance of the environment and showed appreciation for the fish. And I understood this, without rejection; but instead, I enjoyed the moment between Father and son.
Nevertheless, I think this is a fair analogy for people, places and things. Consider our personal flavor and our tastes and seasoning of life, which are all a compound of our surroundings and both equivalent to our nutritional and emotional consumption.
Before I go on, perhaps it is important that jokingly but perhaps necessarily, I disclaim that this is not intended as a discussion of cannibalism. However, we do consume each other in different ways. The people we surround ourselves with or the emotions that act as the end result of our thinking is a direct result of our happiness. We feed from each other. We serve each other and sometimes, our service is actually a disservice.
The way we live, the way we choose to play (or not to) and the way we talk or laugh (or forget to) are contributing factors to the way we look, think, feel, act and appear.
Getting back to my opening of sitting at lunch with an unknown friend; I have ideas of me in a convertible, red to be exact, and with the top down. I am driving alone and on my way to places I’ve never seen before. The car in my dreams varies but for this entry, let’s call it a 66 Mustang with the top down. My faded leather satchel is in the passenger seat, ready and awaiting the next chapter of my upcoming book.
I want to visit a place that I saw when I was young, down by old El Paso, just above the border at Juarez. For the record, I am sure that the neighborhood does not look the same as it did when I was 12 years-old. But that’s okay.
I see myself in this vision. I see me driving with the top down and the dry air of the desert wind blowing through my hair. I am only miles away from the city and civilization. The sun is hot and the sky is blue and as for me; I am on the road to experience a boyhood dream of mine.
See what I mean?
I have these visions to keep the boy in me alive. Also, I keep them to honor an old idea that happened when I was a child who was interrupted by the ideas of ‘being cool.”
A friend was over and I told him that I wanted to write a book.
“Wanna write one with me?” I asked.
I remember the response.
“You’re never gonna write a book. Even if you were grown, you couldn’t write a book.”
(Talk about foreshadowing)
We are what we consume. I say this forthright and wholeheartedly. We are either doubtful or encouraged, depending upon the ideas and our consumption. Or, to stick with my analogy, we are either a home cooked meal of comfort or a bad case of terrible food that keeps repeating on us as a reminder of what “not” to eat.
Our emotional consumption is equally as important as our dietary consumption. Both are for the sake of nutrition. Both are to nurture us and keep us healthy.
It’s easy to forget how to have fun. It’s easy to let time slip and forget what it means to play tag or scream “Home, free, all” or play hide and seek or sing or dance like no one is watching – and even if someone is watching, dance as if nobody cares. I offer this because this is the emotional food that will inspire us to get up in the morning and live through a day that might otherwise be unkind.
Misery and anger and the rest of social illnesses are like viruses that spread worse than any cold and can be more contagious or even deadlier than the Coronavirus.
To boost your emotional immune system, you have to boost your spirit. You have to imagine the action and make it so until you reach your best potential. This is what makes you impenetrable.
Spring is on the way. Looks like I’ll have to do some fishing soon.
Or, maybe we can get up a game of tag.
Know what I mean?