Lately I have to keep polishing up the vision I have for my future, because it's been taking beatings on the way to getting there. I have to keep summoning up the image of that life of lightness and pizazz, travel and adventure, and helping people! Molding young minds! With liberty and good lives for all!
I have to keep reminding myself because in order to get there, there is a lot of paperwork to fill out. Fees to pay. Phone calls to make. Files to dig out. Records to request.
And my god, it's boring! It's deadening! It's urgent. It has to be done. You show them you can navigate endless labyrinths of bureaucratic poison ivy, do what's asked, service with a smile, and when all is said and done they smile back at you, give you a pat on the back and a wine and cheese reception and a bill for $40,000. They put it on your permanent record.
All we can do is hope that elsewhere there is a different, less boring and sensible record being etched. It lists the ways we reached out and and connected to each other, the phone call you placed on a cold January day waiting for the school bus to come and deliver the child. The friendly, dependable voice.
We can only hope there is a transcript somewhere of the kinds of people we were, in the ways for which there is no measurement and no record. Our arms around our best friend. A piece of trash nobody saw us pick up and throw away. Midnight cookie runs to the all-night pharmacy, the aisles of fluorescent glow harsh and unreal and outside of time. Belly laughs, belly rubs, bellyaching we've done around a a cheap cafeteria table somewhere with like-minded commiserators.
Somewhere out there records are being etched in a quiet, cosmic, butterfly-wings kind of way, and all the accolades and grades and the papers and forms amount to a pile of ash. And people who cared about something, stood for something, gave a shit about someone, took a moment to listen not because it's their job but because they believe that's what human beings should do to other human beings-- even if they never get recognized, never get a red cent, die in a state of anonymity, poverty, namelessness...
I have to believe somewhere there is a tally of humble, unrecognized acts of love, connection, sacrifice, courage, inspiration, generosity. Maybe on a piling of a dock on a lake somewhere we can't get to. And that people live on not as the subject of a letter of reference or an average of numbers but as a total unique indescribable anomaly, like a moment that will never be repeated, the time you stood there with all your friends in the breathless 3-D, staring up at the curves of a night sky oozing stars from every pore.