Thursday, January 14, 2010
Pie in the Sky**
While it's true that I've engaged in some serious pruning when it comes to lifetime ambitions, I do still have a very active fantasy life that I refer to affectionately as my tendency toward the IFs. If I won the lottery is a favorite (though that isn't likely to happen anytime soon since I've never bought a ticket). Part of my lottery fantasy has to do with anonymously depositing lots of money into the bank accounts of my family and dearest friends. When they call to tell me about it, I pretend that I am also a recipient of this anonymous donor. We all live happily ever after.
The next part of the fantasy has to do with philanthropic investments. I give away millions to organizations like the Potomac River Conservancy and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. One of the things I do with the money I allot to myself is move to Paris and enroll in culinary school. I would really love to do that - well - all of it but especially the part about Paris and culinary school. Oh yeah!!
Some IF scenarios are less extravagant. I somehow make the laptop people disappear from Peregrine Espresso, for instance. I have nothing against the laptop people, I should say. I don't blame them for wanting to sit in the cafe while they work or whatever it is they're doing, but when they take up every table, all of them facing the windows at the front of the shop, I feel like I'm having coffee in an office. It feels like everyone should have a taupe colored cubicle, and that there should be a copy machine in the back of the shop. It isn't nearly as much fun as having coffee in a nice cafe.
Some fantasies are way more extravagant than the lottery scenario. Like: I completely overhaul health care (NOT the insurance industry, I mean the way health care is thought of and administered) to include what is now thought of as "complementary care." U.S. citizens are allotted a certain amount of free access to acupuncturists, massage therapists, psychotherapists, homeopaths and osteopaths. The practitioners are richly compensated for this work. What we now call "mainstream" or "western" medicine is seen as emergency medicine in my brave new healthcare world. The ongoing upkeep of good health is turned over to what is now seen as the complementary care practitioners.
Fast food restaurants suddenly disappear, along with high-fructose corn syrup and transfat. Industrial farming of animals and plants is replaced by sustainable, humane farms run by good people. Americans let go of their obsession with weight and instead focus on good health and good spirits. Everyone meditates in the morning. Etc. Etc. Etc.
You see? My personal ambitions have faded over time, but my imagination? My capacity to think of what a perfect world would look like? As I grow older, that capacity just keeps expanding.
And now ... back to reality! Which is, on this chilly, sunlit day in Washington DC, not bad, not bad at all. Life, though imperfect, is good and I am grateful. Oh yeah.
**A promise of heaven, while continuing to suffer in this life.
This is an American phrase and was coined by Joe Hill in 1911. Hill was a Swedish-born itinerant labourer who migrated to the USA in 1902. He was a leading light of the radical labour organisation The Industrial Workers of the World - known as the Wobblies, writing many radical songs for them. The phrase appeared first in Hill's The Preacher and the Slave, which parodied the Salvation Army hymn In the Sweet Bye and Bye. The song, which criticized the Army's theology and philosophy, specifically their concentration on the salvation of souls rather than the feeding of the hungry, was popular when first recorded and remained so for some years.