by tobias crabtree
I wonder if it’s too late to compete in the Olympics. I guess I’d need to choose a discipline. One of my buddies suggested synchronized swimming, I informed him how difficult those moves are while smiling and holding your breath. Plus I don’t think there’s a men’s division, and even if the girls let me in, I wouldn’t make the team. Maybe if there was an Olympic sport like coffee making, or hide-and-go-seek, which isn’t a sport, but it should be. I won’t take too much time here bragging, but I’m good at hide-and-go-seek. I like to play even when other people don’t want to. I’ll hide from you just for fun. And ya see, that’s what it takes to be an Olympian: You can’t just be good at it, you gotta do it ’cause you love it. I’d probably need an age waiver, but I feel like my immaturity would sway the committee in my favor.
There’s so many things I’d like to try. Like, I wouldn’t mind being a rock star, even if it was just for a bit. I wouldn’t want all the tabloid stuff, but I think it would be so rad to sing a cool song and have everyone all blissed out over it. I mean, wouldn’t you? Maybe I’d make one album (are they still called albums?) and it would be awesome and then I’d just disappear, but then I’d be sitting in some little cafe in Laramie and I’d hear my song come on in the kitchen and the cook would turn it up a little and say, “I really like this song.” And I’d smile and drink my coffee, but I wouldn’t say anything, I’d just love it on the inside. Secret arrogance is easier for people to tolerate. Besides, I have enough hang-ups without being obviously prideful. It’s ok to have dreams that are a little out there. I’m sure there’s a balance between dreaming your life away and not dreaming at all. Life is here, you know? It’s not a clock. It’s a living breathingness. No matter how much we define it or figure it, time isn’t real. It’s a thing that we say is real, but it will be gone when we are. I’m sure physicists would roll their eyes at me, but I would just ask whether the sun cares about time. And they would call me crazy and I would laugh like a fool. The minute doesn’t need to control us, but it does, hence the big rush. The angry man shaking his fist and riding six inches off my rear bumper does not change the moon in her phases. I care more about heartbeats and how we choose to use them. Being prompt and efficient is good, but not at the cost of real living.
I heard some smart person talking about memory, how the amount of times we ruminate over a specific memory determines the accuracy of that event. Come to find out, the more you hash something over, the more it changes. It’s those things that come out of our dusty pasts, mid-morning on some random thursday, that are the closest to the real deal. I guess it doesn’t matter, but it’s a little sad to me. The memories I visit the most, become something else. Memories are changelings .
The past is defined by that same smarty-pants as anything older than 8 seconds. The present is fleeting. Here we are on this big blue earth, spinning through the stars. Trillions of thoughts are fluttering and flitting out into space. Tiny birds are thinking. Somewhere a deer is browsing near a backcountry road, stamping at the horsefly on her flank. Twenty miles away, a car is traveling in her direction. She is making choices, which leaves to pluck. A memory flickers through her head and she moves out toward an especially lush spot along the creek. The road is just ahead. Out of all the possibilities, she will be at the road just as the car rounds a curve. Old instincts will fire and her quicksilver muscles will take over. There will be a moment where lives hang in the balance. There are billions of maybes. Sometimes hearts no longer beat. Thoughts cease. Wonders endure.
I went for a run along the river. It was cool and I felt good. I love running with someone out in front of me. I like trying to reel them in. I’m sneaky, I try not to let them hear me, and then I pounce. Sometimes, when there’s no one out in front of me, I imagine someone catching up to me from behind. My mind creates them and they are always younger and better looking and more talented than me. They don’t have to try as hard as I do, I imagine them thinking that I’m easy pickin’s. And I pick up the pace and I lean into the turns. I run harder up the hills because I imagine that they won’t think I’ll do that. Ha! They are behind the last bend and they don’t know I’ve picked up the pace even more. I imagine them rounding the turn and frowning at the distance I’ve created. They will match my speed, but the end is in view and they might not be able to chase me down. The fire in my gut is too much. Grit wins over talent! And I am heaving and my head is pounding and I am staring at the ghosts that chase me. They are all walking around shaking their heads and they are muttering words like “lucky” and “should have” and I am outwardly humble…but I’m laughing on the inside.
I reckon I’ll end this with a dedication. I know that we all belong. It’s difficult for me to understand this unless I extract myself from the process. I’m not in charge, and I’m sure I’d be a terrible god. Here’s what I do know: no matter how evil we are, the earth will take us back and turn us to elements and minerals. We all become food for the flowers eventually. But I am certainly a witness to some things that qualify as amazing. Sometimes it’s people that amaze me. Chris Pilaro is one such person. He is here in the world, and like us all, he doesn’t know how long he will be alive. However, he’s been told by people in the know that his time is up. Of course, he was told that 4 years ago and he decided that he had more living to do. As the cancer crowds his guts, and his system begins to show the signs of an expiration date, he continues to shine. His eyes are bright and he speaks candidly about life and the living of it. He skates with a colostomy bag in tow. He answers the questions that his boys conjure while they skate together. He meets me for tacos and tells me the pluses of having a bag, how you can eat more by simply emptying it. There is light in his eyes from the edge of the universe. He has no desire to argue, save that for a person bored with living. He’s very here. He’ll be here till he’s not. He showed me how to fill the space between the sky and the ground, just fill it with your heart. Save the meanness and smile. Laugh at the irony. Giggle at the funny stuff. Only quit when your done and then do so with grace and love and awareness. When you run, run! The ghosts are back there but you’ve got more fire in your gut.
“soulshine, is better than sunshine, better than moonshine, and damn sure better than rain….” Greg Allman