Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Come Hell or Salt Water, I Gotta Get Out of Here
I can't decide where I want to go. Hell--or--the white sands of the Riviera Maya? Do quandaries such as this keep you up at night, too?
Let me explain. I hate winter. Yeh, yeh, I'm sure some of you aren't "particularly fond" of cold weather, either. That's like saying, "I don't feel a particular bond with large, hairy spiders big enough to carry off a newborn infant." I realize that "hate" is a strong word. I HATE cold weather (and tarantulas.) I would rather be digging a trench in 90 degree heat/90% humidity than have to walk 10 feet from the house to my car in 35 degree temperature. First of all, in Illinois, it's never just 35. There is always wind; consequently, a 2 mph wind on a 35 degree day really feels like 35 degrees below zero. Imagine a four mph wind. Did I indicate I HATE cold weather?
By now you may be thinking,"Jeez, do ya think you could quit whining?" I admit I'm feeling like a frail Woody Allen who commented on his weakly and frail reflexes, " Once I was run over by a car being pushed by two guys." I suppose a real man would suck it up. I can't. I curl it up, as in my body in a fetal position. Even though functioning outwardly, my internal landscape looks very infantile. For example, during the eternal span of time between October and March, a person might engage me in conversation. I speak, I nod as if I understand, I make expressive gestures with my hands. But, inside my psyche, I am on our living room leather couch (the leather having a surface temperature of 35 below), curled up in my fetal position, hoody on and blanket over me, sipping one of those 96 oz. Casey's hot chocolates.
At this juncture, we're six months into winter, and six to go, and I'm going berserk. I went into a full tailspin last week on my drive to work. It was a bitterly cold, gray (Illinois' state color) morning, and as I'm driving I have this fleeting vision of despair. I picture myself pulling off the Interstate and getting out of my car. I strip off all my clothing and walk off into a woods to freeze to death. Just get it over with NOW; why nearly, but not quite, freeze to death nearly every day from now til March? I don't view that vision as sick--just desperate. It would certainly give new meaning to "being exposed to the cold."
I understand Jimmy Buffett when he says, "This mornin' I shot six holes in my freezer; I think I got cabin fever--somebody sound the alarm."" As Mr. Buffett goes on to sing, "Lately, newspaper mentioned cheap air fare, I gotta fly to St. Somewhere--I'm close to bodily harm."
I'm close. I gotta get out of here, gotta fly to St. Somewhere. My dilemma is "where?" I'm faced with two choices: I can go to Hell--or--St. Somewhere.
Part of me desperately longs for the latter. I want to go to the Caribbean, lay out, read, snorkel, and make sure I stay hydrated with pina coladas. I want to escape. I want to shut off the thinking and caring, and simply relax in the sun. I need refreshment.
Another part of me wants to go to Hell, i.e. Haiti, and do what I can to help them. They need refreshment. They dwell in Hell with no chance of escape. A part of me feels compelled to provide some measure of relief, to comfort, to assure them by my words and actions that they are not forgotten. I will survive winter; there is no assurance they will survive Hell.
We all deal with this existential tension between "I" and "They," "Us" and "Them." The other tension exists between going for "Pleasure" and going for "Purpose." Sometimes they coincide, but often they don't. This time they don't.