I drink too much. I smoke too much and I drink too much and I eat too much. I know I do all of those things too much, but I don’t stop doing them. Instead, I think about what it means that I know I do all of those things too much but I don’t stop doing them all too much, and if it means that I don’t have any self-control, or if I really do have self-control but am choosing to do all of those things too much because as long as I’m doing them all too much, when I turn inward and think about my vices I’ll have those three sitting there, nicely packaged and primed for mining as topics of conversation or jokes. As long as my introspection can be distracted by those things, I can gloss over the other things that really bother me but that don’t have remedies as easy to figure out as not eating, smoking, or drinking too much.
The most pressing of those other things, the one that I sometimes can see in my peripheral vision for a second, the one that occasionally I’ll spot peering over the huge brick wall made up of eating, drinking, and smoking too much, is what the fuck am I doing? What exactly is going on here? Am I really, actually, literally working nine to five in a cubicle? Last week did I, in reality, tell the owner of an auto-repair shop in Maryland to, “Have a good one?”
Because if I am and if I did it means that somewhere along the line I decided that I was going to have to give up what I wanted now so that I could have it later. It has to mean that, because the only other possibility is that I’m too lazy or scared to figure out what I want – and people who lack the initiative to start doing what they want are the people who wind up working for mid-sized corporations until the imminent arrival of either their retirement or firing, the former only really preferable to the latter because it’s easier, not necessarily better. Especially not if it happens before you ever built up the nerve to make the move and do what you could to be sure when your relatively short time alive us up, you can look back and feel good about what you did, where you went, and what you saw.
If I think about it too much, I can see a damp, narrow tunnel, lined with scenes from my life playing in a loop. A personalized 360-degree version of the tunnel like the scary one Gene Wilder takes all the kids through in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory – minus the chocolate river and plus sleepless nights and long stretches of wide-eyed staring off in to space breathing deep measured breaths.
I will not look back and have regrets based on inaction. If I’m going to regret anything, it’s going to be something I did do. I’ve got to move somewhere, do something new, something different. I feel like a basketball circling a rim, leaning back and forth between going in or out. In is for sure – I’ll pass through the net and head straight for the ground. Out, I could bounce anywhere. Maybe if no one stops me I’ll wind up across the gym under the bleachers, or I’ll roll through the double doors into the lobby with the Powerade vending machine and the water fountain with the calcium-clogged spout. Of course going in would also mean scoring a point, but who cares about the score if the game isn’t any good?