Phase one, in which Doris gets her oats
Originally posted in January, 2022
It’s the end of a century, and I can’t think of anything, except … the end of a decade. It’s hard to get out of the way of a decade when it keeps swinging around for you on a virus tether.
Maybe I just need to get out of the way of myself, the way Doris slams the oat bucket over when its empty. She knows there’s nothing else coming.
Doris owns her consumption. Completely comfortable while snorting back her oats, but just as happy to nose through the snow for some grass. She knows what needs to be done, and does it.
I, however, prefer to think about the things that need to be done, letting the ants of anxiety run wild under my skin. There are so many things that I sincerely want to engage in — a list comprised entirely of free will.
But I don’t knock over that can of oats. I lick the bottom, begging for more. One more article, autoplay, bag of chocolates, auto-dephosphorylation of my entire life. I am become foie gras, but stuffed with what?
I can vacantly thumb with the best of them. But I can never quite cross the threshold into Stockholm. Never scroll fast enough to completely overwhelm the pleas from my subconscious.
Or maybe it’s fear. To collapse a possibility space that is infinite as long as it is unexplored. To wake up in forty years and discover I’ve been digging the same hole and filling it back in again, and moreover that I liked it. Scared that objectivity would be completely subsumed by subjectivity, and only I would be consumed.
Fearful that I would never wake up from my consumption fever dream if I crossed that threshold. Step through, a liminal Janus, into contentment.
Sincerely enjoy having my fingernails peeled off. The gnawing to create completely cured as the parasite it was. To open my mouth wide and lean back, because there is a lot to take in.
Digging the the hole to be my whole.
It’s time now to begin Phase Two
Doris is a clever girl. I marvel she hasn’t foundered in the fields of clover, those algorithmically designed fields of fun. But she never resigns herself to the decadence given to her. She jumps fences. Crosses streams. Crosses things off her list, because no one told her to.
We once treated Doris to a pampered barn. Imported grains, soft bedding, bottled water. In the morning we found a broken latch and bloody sheets.
Doris has been to Stockholm, but only as an intentional kinase consultant. Her job is living on a farm, but it doesn’t define her. She rages. Against the machine. Against the dying of the light. Against forced comfort.
She’ll paw the earth to fill the hole, but only if she’s creating something; a pastoral perhaps. She’ll run herself down the fenceline until she glistens and the grass won’t grow. The corral doesn’t define her, though she spends most of her time within fences.
But she could escape at anytime.
We all could.
Phase three transformer
There are three sides to every coin, just as there are three ways out of existential despair — but only two are worth considering for practical purposes.
It is called life after all.
And it should be content. And full of content. And no one gets full without consuming.
Just ask Doris. She is always full; oats, grasses, clover. Or ask the cow the farmhands found in the ditch and had to puncture to let the gasses escape.
Created and consumed, Deliberately or Automatically. The mixtape Spike made, with “cool music for Jewel“ written on the spine, because that was my name; or Discover Weekly (which is definitely free from financial encumbrance)? — the waterfall my parents took me to every year, the top of which documents my growth in badly framed photos in their basement; or #positano with the “summer glow” filter overlay? — the post lately ringing in the New Year rehashing simple platitudes about things everyone from HDT to my mom have already weighed in on; or that next episode of Tiger King 2 that keeps wanting to start after I’ve watched literally anything else?
Maybe it’s the iced cream. The ice cream work in the winter. Maybe my brain is just cold.
Maybe this year I can be Doris, day-one enjoying the oats. Knowing the ice cream work hasn’t frozen me dead inside. It may cover my life like snow, but there are deliberate tracks to be made, the scent of wild oats in the air, and a fence in the distance that needs jumping.