Telluride Daily Planet, Sunday, March 3, 2013
If I had my life to live over (which I do, really, every time I roll out of bed onto a new day, every time I open a door, a portal, or even the tiny box on my dining room table I keep absolutely nothing in, every time I come into my body, every time I open my eyes after blinking slowly — because there’s no law I know of that says you have to blink quickly) I’d try to make more mistakes next time. Instead of having to be right all the time and not tripping up but instead going Oops, look at that, I made a mistake, and maybe if I wasn’t so uptight I could laugh it off after saying I’m sorry and meaning it. I would relax. Twelfth commandment. Every time I felt my shoulders inch up or my lips purse and I forgot to breathe and had thoughts about The Past or things that are constantly breaking, the Relax Fairy would be there with her little whip made out of feathers, cracking it on the bottoms of my feet. I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been on this trip. Relax Fairy to white people: shake your groove thang. The beat is in your blood not in your head. Cash in some silly stocks and spend, spend, spend. I know of very few things I would take seriously. Except maybe risotto with truffles, or a perfectly roasted marshmallow. Or one of those little blue butterflies that bumps into your leg and makes you go, Hey, something that weighs as much as an exclamation mark just rammed into me so not-hard a few old thoughts got knocked loose. I would be crazier. Not the rainbow-toe-socks kind, but crazy enough to hack some new neural pathways down with the razor sharp machete of desire. I would be less hygienic. Taking the words “hand sanitizer” out of my vocabulary, I would have zero flu fear. I would take more chances … climb more mountains, swim more rivers, and watch more sunsets. Maybe all of the above in the same day, collapsing in a heap as Beethoven’s Ninth blared in speakers far too good for my house. I would burn more gasoline. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. Metaphors, in a fossil-fuel-ravaged and vegan age, but I’d burn more late-night oil for the sake of brilliant characters in brilliant novels, burn more stupid pieces of paper with lists on them, burn more beeswax candles because every moment is a vigil. I’d exalt in sugar – and butter — because of the burst of happiness they bring. I would have more actual troubles and fewer imaginary ones…. Oh, I’ve had my moments and, if I had it to do over, I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to have nothing else…. Worry is a dog in a cage. Your dog. Let it out. Then once the dog is out, you can take yourself on a nice walk through the fields of golden present moments. If I had it to do over again, I would go places and do things and travel lighter than I have…. Mainly much, much lighter in my thoughts, down to their flimsiest but most elegantly made undergarments. I would start bare-footed earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I’d choose calluses on my feet over calluses in my heart. I’d go outside at night again, ravished by the cool and bracing freedom of it all. I would play hooky more. I wouldn’t make such good grades except by accident. I’d sneak out a lot, out of the house, out of the office, out of a dinner party. I’d wipe the Akashic records of report cards and resumes clean and replace them with letters I’ve written from my heart. I would ride on more merry-go-rounds. Because the world is, in fact, spinning, why not sync to it on the bedazzled back of an old painted horse whose job is to make you smile? I’d pick more daisies. More of those little daisies I last picked when my daughter was born, stringing them into a crown for her fresh pink head. Why can’t I do that sacred act, again: have my fingers forgotten how? The Relax Fairy whispers in her scratchy little voice, No, of course they haven’t: the time is always now.