In the kitchen. Taxes on my mind. Knowing I need to get them done because if done right, we’ll get money back. We need this money to live this life we’re living. I understand that the sum of your belongings means nothing. But once you accumulate and have, you expect. It’s ridiculousness at its best.
So, I’m making French Press coffee from beans I’ve just ground. Starbucks French Roast. And I’m falling into the pit of guilt. It’s not the guilt’s fault. See, I do this often. Every day. Many times each day. Instead of enjoying an experience, like a silky, smooth cup of coffee, I start thinking of the people waking up on the street. In the cold. People with real problems, like aching, starving bellies. Pain that they can’t get prescribed away. Humans, that for one reason or another, have chosen the street. Their decision-making may have not been well-informed and certainly could have been affected by mental illness, substance abuse, lack of education, disease, and general hopelessness. Or sometimes, people just get a bad shake. They are, of course, without choice. Surviving by sheer will.
And that’s only the beginning. I’ll find one of these folks in my head. See them, hear them, feel them, and wonder, how can I help? What am I able to do from my place here on the 45th parallel to get the war vet to the soup kitchen and a counselor? How do I help the opiate addicted illegal immigrant and her three young boys out of the car their living in and into a home? And what about the old man living in his shack out in the sticks with no running water, no phone, no electricity? He can’t walk anymore. He finds it impossible to do much of anything. He sits in his chair, looking out over his frozen front yard toward the road where his mailbox used to be. It’s gone, he thinks. The snowplow that came through last week blasted through it, sending his disability check flying off into February, only to be buried out there somewhere with another layer of snow. Not that it matters. He can’t get to town to cash it, anyhow.
I sip the coffee. Damn, it is good.
I check my watch. An Apple watch, of course. Those are the gifts we give each other. Obnoxious. Does anybody really need to have the world strapped to their wrist? But it is telling me to get moving. Yesterday, I smashed my move goal. Burned just over 1,600 calories. Jogging, walking, elliptical, and free weights. And I’m shameful. How stupid is that? I’m ashamed that I’m able to do these things, look out for my health.
And I love the watch.
I head down to the basement. Get here to these keys. This computer works well. It’s taken the thoughts from inside of me and saved them for the past five years. That’s the typical age when one should consider replacing a laptop. I admit it. I’ve been looking at the 16” MacBook Pro.
Wasn’t it an apple that supposedly got all of us into this?
I’ve been abusing these keys for about twenty minutes. I’m at that point where I know I could go for hours—probably write The Great American Novel—but it’s here again. The pit. My daughter has friends over. Two of them. They slept over last night. It was my wife’s idea. She’s up there now, sipping tea. Touching her iPad Pro. Playing Candy Crush or shopping for clothes for our Spring Break trip. We’re going to Jamaica. But, I’m not up there, you see. Those little girls are chatting, munching cereal, slurping milk. There’s nothing I can do up there. I have nothing to offer, but I’m supposed to be up there. My wife may not actually think this, but that’s what the pit is telling me. I shouldn’t be down here writing, cleaning out the noggin’, getting myself centered, doing what I love—stringing words together. I should be up there.
And once I’m up there, doing whatever it is I can to help—putting away dishes, vacuuming, sitting on the couch and watching TV, just BEING there—the pit will remind me of what I committed to years ago, when I was just a kid.
I’m going to be a writer, I said.
But it will have to wait. At least until the taxes are done.