Sometimes, I just coast. Just complete my daily tasks and rest up to do it again the next day. Brush my teeth, sit through a work meeting, feed something less-than-nutritious to Kidlet, put a dish in the dishwasher. Lather, rinse, repeat.
And coasting is just fine sometimes. Coasting is my favorite part of a bike ride. To coast is to reap the benefits of working up to traveling speed. Coasting lets you gear up for the next big hill you need to climb.
It’s not that life is tedious or mundane (OK, of course it is now and then). It’s just--sometimes--getting out of bed in the morning, having nothing of significance happen during the day, and getting back into bed that evening is something I have to consider a success.
Coasting is great. But this wasn’t a week of coasting. It has been an educational week. I learned a lot. It was a lot of pedaling and shifting gears. Here is what I learned:
Lesson 1: College doesn’t make you smart. And smart people don’t always need college.
I knew this to be true in an academic sense (excuse the pun). But this week, I was schooled (excuse another pun! What is wrong with me!) by a musician, a person that knew a lot about some incredibly interesting things. So deeply thoughtful, so interestingly philosophical, so goddamn creative. The Musician is someone to know.
He doesn’t have a university degree. But he has explored more of this world than 90% of the alumni of any school. He knows things because he has seen things. He has sought things.
I have known some incredibly educated people in my lifetime. And I have never actually experienced the following strange phenomenon. Not once.
The Musician and I were talking about the origins of the universe. (I don’t do boring date-talk about reality TV or commercially-exploitive sports tournaments.) He was telling me about a stunningly beautiful mapping of the universe.
And that is when the something amazing happened. He was talking about the universe expanding so far and wide that it will--one day--collapse back onto itself, condensing into this tiny, infinitely dense dot of matter. Which, when no longer able to contain its energy, will explode in a big bang--The Big Bang--once again starting the cycle of the universe.
Musician: Every society and every religion that has ever existed on Earth has had this knowledge of recurrence of time. Time repeats.
Me: We will exist in this very life again? Living through these exact events again, and again. Forever. I think Nietzsche referred to time as a flat circle.
Musician: I have no idea. I never read any Nietzsche.
My point is this: The Musician didn’t read a book in a Philosophy 101 class to learn this theory. No one taught him the idea of flat circles or the repetition of time. He just… got there. Under his own power.
I’m willing to bet that old Friedrich never took Philosophy 101 either.
Aside: I will neither confirm nor deny that the conversation noted above was enhanced by any herbal supplements… The good news is I get to smoke that great stuff again in a few billion years. I mean… you know… if there was something being smoked…
Lesson 2: People in Brazil care about soccer in ways which I believe to be unhealthy. Did you see and that sturm and drang? I mean really. I only cry like that for really important things. Like a performance of The Lion King or when I think about how much money that idiotic Shades of Grey shit made. Well, now I am crying because that terrible writer is going to make all that money all over again in a few billion years.
Lesson 3: Never tell your sister about the Google news alerts you have set up. For some reason, she will mock you for keeping an eye on all things related to Roller Derby, MS, and Atheism. “Really?” she will ask. “You need to see it as soon as news breaks that there is still no proof of God?” Smartass sisters. Sheesh.
Lesson 4: Silver linings are abound.
The next person that tells me to count my blessings is going to get punched in the ear. Be forewarned. Couldn’t be helped. It was predestined when it happened the first time billions of years ago.
I know I am blessed. I know I am lucky. I know that I am not really want for anything. Not really. Clean water comes out of my tap. A roof shelters me from storms. Both my child and I have shoes, vaccines, and education.
And I am thankful. Thankful for my wonderful Kidlet. My (mostly) good health. My job. It actually feels a little perverse and gluttonous to count up all these blessings. But somehow, it feels differently to count silver linings. Maybe it is just the nomenclature of the phrases. Blessings implies something being bestowed. Linings implies something being unearthed.
Blessings are given. Silver linings are earned. To find a silver lining, you have to wade through all the shit. To see the silver lining, you have to process and learn. It is a joy to uncover a beautifully gilded lining, birthed from pain.
Maybe I am splitting hairs. But I think we should all stop counting blessings and start mining for some silver.
Lesson 5: Someone needs to stage a telethon or fun run to raise funds to combat the effects of summer boob sweat.
Lesson 6: Being called “pretty” is a charmingly sweet, endearing compliment. I get adorable, gorgeous, hot. I mean, just look at me with all that boob sweat, for hells sake. Who wouldn't think that was super hot? Being called sexy is great. But when I got called pretty this week… butterflies. (Doesn’t mean you get to stop calling me sexy.)
Sometimes, I catch myself being optimistic and sunny. Which—let’s be honest—is not my baseline condition. This good cheer is often caused by a boy. It is also fair to point out… often when I am feeling dour and cynical… that is also caused by a boy.
Life can be really confusing. So I will take the butterflies when I can find them.
Lesson 7: Holga makes an iPhone case with photo filters!!! How did I not know this???
Lesson 8: There is nothing that isn’t made better with balsamic vinegar. Or pesto. Except maybe ice cream (and the jury is still out about balsamic for that one).
Lesson 9: I really, really hate that I will never again get to read Harry Potter for the first time. Or Bag of Bones. Or To Kill a Mockingbird. But, I love that I will never again have to read Ethan Frome.
I do, however, get to watch my kid read my favorite books for the first time. Kidlet has only this past year discovered that reading can almost be as fun as mindlessly staring at an iPod screen for three hours. After he finished his last book (the one having to do with Zeus’s summer camp for weirdos, or something like that), he asked me what he should read next.
Angels sung. Confetti was tossed. Vodka was drunk. Oh, wait… the vodka part really had nothing to do with it. Moving along…
I had been waiting for that question for ten years. What should he read? What shouldn’t he read? I have a stack of books for him to curl up with. I started him with one of my favorites: The Westing Game. Murder, mystery, puzzles, money. I knew it would be right up his alley. It was so amazing to watch him turn pages of a book that I so love. Now… What next? So many to choose from!
Lesson 10: The greatest feeling in the world is when Kidlet says this: “You are so much funnier than my dad.”