Remember “Let’s play pretend?” Of course you do. We all do. We all played pretend. Playing pretend is the developmental period between artless sentence speaking and puberty (during puberty, all bets are off). There are of course outliers, but I am writing from within a predictable bell-curve.
When I was 10 years old my sister was seven. We got along swimmingly. As a collective we were at our playing pretend apex. A series of unremarkable interactions between she and I landed me the remarkable role as her horse, Calamarouix (whose name’s origin remains a mystery). We were friends, and we played pretend.
She would say, “Calamarouix, go to the kitchen.” And I, in a reverse-anthropomorphic gesture, would perform a wild-horse-like buck and relocate us to the desired locale: in this particular recall of nostalgic innocence, the kitchen. We also played a game where I was a “blind” person (this character had no arcane name of mysterious origin). She would cover my eyes while on my shoulders – I was her human palanquin. The difference was, as she covered my eyes with her hands, I would maneuver in response to her specific instructions: “go straight; stop; turn right, three step; we are at the stairs; there…are…12…no wait…13…go!” I’d say, “Got it!” And up we’d go.
On at least four occasions during the previous three weeks I became tearful. A deep, deep sadness precipitated my welled tears.* I was sharing this with a friend. A pragmatic, “There’s a lot to cry about right now,” was his prudent response. And he is correct: there is indeed a lot to cry about right now. And I know I am not alone in my emotionally responsive tears of welling. The cacophonous discourse of biopsychosocial dissonance is approaching its oblique ascent. And as my tear ducts hold my emotional glut hostage, I feel my organs absorb flecks of transient mass. These flecks attract like misplaced magnetic fields as they surf through the hypothesized aether.
And one thought ruminates: Where did all of our “pretend” go? Everyone’s? What are we holding on to? There is lots wrong, but there is also lots right. It seems, at times, our god given individualism has charmed opportunity into believing individualism is self-made. My favorite John Adams quote comes to mind:
“I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.”
Sure, America was built on the lies of megalomaniacs and personality disorders, slaves and servants, religious freedom and personal freedoms, but (and this does not justify: corruption, mendacity, perfidy, and/or any behavior) upon some research and pragmatic meditations on the matter, this is par for the course. The aforementioned are the antithesis of personality traits which exude pride in one, but it is impossible to ignore the prevalence of their dichotomy: truth, honor, hard work, and alacrity. It is just as Night needs Day: the Nights are just a bit longer at the moment.
Life is a nearly impossible, and most definitely an improbable, occurrence.** If one is fortunate enough to make it to “the show,” it is (depending on your cosmic luck) a seemingly impossible existence. Life is hard. Life is a huge pain in the ass. It is much like family: if you are lucky to have such pains in the ass annoy you, and for you to annoy, to love you and for you to love, to disappoint you and for you to disappoint, to lie to you and for you to lie to, to surprise you and for you to surprise, and to again love you, especially because you were, are, and most likely will always remain: Prince Pain in the Ass of your family – be grateful. Do your best to be grateful every day. (I’ve heard that gratitude is an action word.)
When the Covid – 19 pandemic began, I wrote a poem titled, Gate’s Wisdom. The first three lines of the poem are: By the time this is gone/I want to learn/How to not care. I may have misspoke: I am not sure yet. It is possible I need to learn to to be more selective with my caring. Because, what really is the issue? The issue is, we have arrived in a place where we fugazi’d ourselves. The population keeps growing and we distracted ourselves from the problem we forgot to fix 20 years ago, and now it festers. It is uncomfortable, and it is hard. And humans are fallible. And I think that is the end of this piece.
I remember being tearful earlier this week, and remember, there is a lot to be tearful right now. And I think that is why Calamarouix and my sister entered my mind. We were not concerned beyond our pretend. We remained without opinion (debatable I suppose), but there was no subtext or manipulation. I am just grateful there was time to pretend. Maybe that is a good place to start. Try and pretend a few things a differently.
*Your tears have a similar structure to saliva. They’re mostly made of water, but also contain salt, fatty oils, and over 1,500 different proteins. Jun 24, 2019 (Google)
**A healthy adult male can release between 40 million and 1.2 billion sperm cells in a single ejaculation. In contrast, women are born with an average 2 million egg follicles, the reproductive structures that give rise to eggs. Jan 24, 2013 (Google)