It’s a quarter to 7, PM, which is post meridian, which means after noon. It’s an excruciatingly beautiful June day in northern Seattle. Not that Seattle is so vast that I need to differentiate different parts of it to assign the weather appropriately. It’s excruciatingly beautiful all over the god damned place. I’m walking to Starbucks.
Which is not true, but more interesting that what I was actually doing at that time: falling asleep as my wife sang a song to our son, about an alligator eating monkeys out of a tree, one by one. First there were five of the little bastards, teasing Mr. Alligator, so he snuck up and snatched one. Then there were four, but the monkeys didn’t seem to notice, and kept right on hassling the guy. So he snatched another. I was actually fighting sleep because I wanted to know how it ended. Would the last one figure it out, maybe repent his ways?
Nah, he got et too. Idiot.
But that’s boring, so instead, I’m walking to Starbucks. It’s warm outside, all the trees are green, and the sky is that deep blue color you get when you give up using four-letter monosyllabic words for colors and look for something fancy and poetic and crap. Like “azure” or “cobalt.”
We like our coffee here in Seattle, mostly because it’s overcast all the time and we need the caffeine to fight off the drearies. People who don’t drink coffee either take heroin or make music, or if it’s the early 90s, they do both. But today the only heroin a person could think of is heroine, with an e, like Wonder Woman, because the sky is the color of Linda Carter’s eyes. There you go.
Which begs the question: why am I walking to Starbucks at 7 PM on a gorgeous day? I dunno. On the one hand, I’m not; I’m mostly asleep on the floor in my kids room as my wife tries to get him to sit still while she changes his diaper. But there would have to be a reason, even if I’m not really walking to Starbucks. Go ahead, find Wonder Woman, have her throw that lasso around me, make me tell the truth. I’d love to know myself.
I mean, on the one hand, I’ve been dipping my toes into philosophy via books and podcasts and browsing Wikipedia. That can get a man down, whether he’s literally down on the floor in his son’s bedroom listening to his wife fight a sleep sack onto the little rascal, or merely spiritually down due to the hop-skip-jump journey he just took from Plato to Descartes to Camus to The Matrix. So there you go. Again. Even the deep warmth of Linda Carter’s deep blue eyes are nothing against a single toe frozen in the ice-cold waters of existential angst.
But on the other hand, there’s this Mindfulness thing that’s been going around. An antidote to angst. Or, an antidote to Angst’s little brother Anxiety, who is way more annoying if you ask me. And to be sure, if I’m lying on the floor of my son’s bedroom as my wife rocks him in the glider and sings Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (his favorite song) five times in a row, I can hardly consider myself “mindful” if I’m imagining myself walking to Starbucks underneath skies so blue it’s like everything else’s not-blueness just contributes to how blue it is. Maybe, though, I’m so immersed in this imaginary walk I’m mindful of the walk.
Afterall, I’m not feeling any anxiety, thinking about the sky, the press of the cement through my shoes, the traffic tootling by, the siren call of a venti mocha. I am in THAT moment. Sort of. And it’s all in MY head, see. My wife puts our son in his crib with his lovey and a stuffed rhinoceros, and I adjust my face just a bit to move out of my drool spot, and she turns on the white-noisemaker and turns off the light, and there are no shadows on the cave wall in my head, there are no demons messing with my five senses. I am really good at imagining things. I’ve got the Matrix right there inside my noggin.
My son starts to snore. I mean, I get to a crosswalk. I dutifully wait for the light, and when the little white man appears, I get up off the floor. Starbucks is just there, but it’s kind of hard to see in the dark. I am also hard to see in the dark, and a car totally ignore the red light. Probably some jerk on his cell phone. Or maybe the sky is too blue for red to even exist anymore. Camus decided that there’s no purpose to anything, so you might as well just do what you’re good at. I smile at my boy. I’m pretty good at that.
The car is a 1957 Facel Vega, of course, and it plows through me like the fifth dad pun in a string of a dozen. I never make it to Starbucks, but I do make it out of my son’s room. I walk downstairs, find my shoes. There where I took them off. It’s nice when things work out like that.