Christmas night I drive through a small town. I could have taken the highway, but I don't. I drive on small, short little roads--curves impractical rather than seductive. The lampposts are lit, and there are decorations up, and it is festive. Festive, but alone. It is a celebration, but there is nobody celebrating. The celebration is inside the houses that line the small-town streets. I am the one who is alone. It's a weird feeling...
I see a couple of other cars out...and I wonder to myself why they are out. Why they are driving in Sheboygan Falls at 7.30 on Christmas night. That's when you celebrate--ya know? That's not the time when you're out driving.
As a matter of fact, that is precisely the time when you are not out driving.
Except for me.
The words "shackled by ambition" pop into my head. Wait, what? What was that? I'm used to my Victorian maudlin use of cliché to describe sorta how I am feeling and sorta how I want to be feeling.
I have to drive. I can't stop, really, even if it means being out and about on Christmas night at 7.30. Even if it means giving up traditional measures of comfort--even if it means defying tradition--I have to. I can't really stop. So even though I may want to go back and relax in my quiet home, I can't. because I have better things to do.
Better things. Ha.
I keep driving. The lights are looking at me judgementally. Streetlamps with their sad festoons of evergreen--either fake (which end up looking cheap) or fresh (which end up looking dead). They're saying to me, "shoulda got out when ya had the chance. Shoulda cashed in, and gone and embraced those simple pleasures that your family back there embraces--they can enjoy the little things."
Because that's what pleasure is. It's simple. When you complicate pleasure, it becomes less pleasurable, it becomes more like work. It becomes more stressful. Pleasure--what we call pleasure--can be stressful. Recreation become less about unwinding and more about fitting every last activity in.
The ability to laugh at the story of a stupid cat that loves to lick hands...there's nothing sophisticated about that, or intellectual. it's just funny. It's grotesque, and it's funny.
Is being intellectual a bad thing? Is it...does it make you more mean, lower?
Does my intellect make me less able to appreciate the wonders of life?
Just because I comprehend something doesn't mean that I understand it. Have I broken apart the rose to see what's inside--and lost the beauty of it?
This was supposed to be a poem. It started off as "My Impression Of Lights In A Little Old Down-Town Street". And look at it now. All growed up into a melancholy soul-search.
I feel stupid. I feel stupid for thinking I'm smart. I feel stupid for accepting the world's concept of "intelligence" with which it labels me. I feel stupid for being proud of that label.
I wish I could be simple again.