The average looking girl, with her dirty blond hair in ponytail and harried face slips into the subway car and into her seat without anyone giving her notice. She’s not participating in the collective consciousness of the riders. She may as well not even be there.
At the next stop, a guy walks in, clad in jeans and ripped t-shirt. The terrestrial horror of his multitude of pimples war with the rings in his nose and upper lip in their dance of pain, and it’s all the passengers can do not to stare. His belligerent look causes them to look away, as his questing gaze scans the car.
His swiveled gaze stops once he sees the girl.
The girl looks up, her frown disappearing. A shine glows in her eyes, as she erupts into a wide open smile and hops off her seat, to grab him in a hug. For his part, the belligerence is gone and he grins down at her.
For a brief moment, the busy riders forget about their pressing appointments, their bills, the stressful presentations they have to give, and what they’re going to tell their wives about why they couldn’t go on holidays this year. Instead, they see a couple living in a moment, unaware of the past or future, or troubles. The display admonishes them about misplaced priorities.
It is to be expected that, not long after the couple leave the car, those priorities and issues will come crashing back. Some will pop anti-stress pills, otherwise will drown themselves in coffee, and still others will eat more fat-enhancing food, all in an effort to avoid feeling bad.
The observant soul will notice that this scenario happens more often than not. It is only evident to those who are aware and watchful.
One artist saw an abandoned house down in New Orleans and decided to experiment. She took a piece of chalk and in bold letters wrote “BEFORE I DIE”. And then she scratched out a whole wall of empty lines with the words “Before I die, I want to……..”. Then she sat back and waited to see what people would do.
The artist’s instinct was dead-on. Give people an open and unjudging chance to talk about themselves, and they’ll gladly oblige. Some, even joyfully.
Many wrote jokes. Most took the exercise seriously though.
Frankly, I was a little surprised to see one particular wish stated over and over.
“Before I die, I want to live”.
That wish makes me almost speechless. An explosion of thoughts careen around, begging for release.
Why would they say that? What’s stopping them? Do they feel they’re not living now? If so, why is that?
The persistent grinding poverty of desire and passion seems overwhelming. People (including this writer) talk about The Machine as if it’s a sentient, purposeful, sadistic thing. The Machine swallows dreamers whole, and spits out robotic uninterested (and therefore uninteresting) sheep who do their Master’s bidding. The question comes up: is it possible to dream and still be part of the system?
There aren’t any perfect answers to that one. The dream is not the achievement is it? Dreamers are often considered whiners, not content to appreciate what they have. To a certain degree, that’s true of many of us. Yet, those who dream often provoke change.
You have to consider: maybe advancement isn’t possible without dreamers who consider what yet isn’t, and should be.
I dreamt of changes. After years of playing the living martyr, content to put up with angst and depression until I died, confident that the hereafter would be my reward, I elected, finally, to escape the grind. There was a severe financial and living conditions price to pay, which I thought about carefully before making my choice. You know – the notion that I had a choice at all was pretty compelling. After closing my eyes and pinching my nose shut, I jumped.
It was very hard, at first. After a few years of plodding with mud-covered boots through a miasma of difficulties and obstacles, the dream stayed in front, smiling and encouraging. Eventually, there was a point where the mud sloughed away, and the difficulties stayed behind.
Without The Dream, none of that would have happened.
Then I read a book. And after reading it, another dream took shape.
This new dream provoked even more change. Travelling and sky-diving and acting the fool on a stage in a theatre and in a few bars happened. Years of stress, and of biting my tongue, went away. In their place came the smiles of youth. My God this was good.
“Before I die, I want to live”
Amazing. It’s personally frustrating to know that so many don’t feel they have options and choices, and that they must put up with *this* before they die. The question for those who say they want to live is this: “how long do you plan to wait before making that happen?”
Someone else wrote “Before I die, I want to be published”
Yeah, that’s my current dream.
But the dream that intrigues me most, the one that was written on the wall, without explanation, was this one:
“Before I die, I want to evaporate into the light.”