There comes a moment when I realize that I have left myself behind. It lies at the edge of contentment and envy, when I peer into the places that others occupy and wish I were there. When I see the trail of might-have-beens I have laid in my wake my soul shrinks. I fall into despair, knowing I can’t reach back and grasp them. They are gone forever.
It is when I go out my front door and take a walk along streets lined with neatly trimmed lawns and home security signs that I understand. Nothing’s chasing me, you see. There is no panic reaching down my throat and gripping my heart in its inexorable fingers. I haven’t gone to the precipice and leapt – no, not once. I have stood idly by while others took the plunge, and I am worse for it. Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one more traveled by, and that has made all the difference. Please send Robert Frost my apologies.
The easy life, the dull life, seems secure, and security is sublime. It cradles you like you’re a child, and who wouldn’t like, even once, to go back to childhood? Knowing what adulthood holds in store, who would thrust away the spoon heaped with food as it came to feed them? We work for security and ease, do we not? The big TV, the easy chair with the vibrating back, that car that turns eyes toward us. That’s what it’s all about: security. Repeat after me – security is life.
Wrong! Nein! Nyet! That’s the sublimation talking, fella. Security isn’t life. Fear is life. I can’t climb back into the womb, I wouldn’t even try. It’s a cold cruel world, a hard-knock life, or some other cliché filled turn of phrase. Life is the growl of hunger driving you onward, not the gurgle as the food settles in your fat belly. Life is paycheck to paycheck, not housekeeper to nanny. Life is the split-second burst of adrenaline before those headlights bear down on you. Life is a neck on a guillotine.
Security is the chain that enslaves me. I see the wonders before me, but I am held back. Nothing is pushing me except sinew and will. There are no lions snapping at my heels, no chainsaw murderers breaking through my wall. It’s just little old me, and all the cages I have lured myself into in the name of security. I’ve never watched the zombie hordes shambling closer with one bullet in my pistol.
That’s what I need. I need to toe the end of the high dive with a million reasons why I should just walk away running through my head. I need to pass by the bouncy castle, kick off my shoes, and take a stroll across the burning coals – although people really shouldn’t put fire walking courses near places where children play. Just sayin’. I need to go into the woods and siphon the gas from my tank. I need to stand naked in front of a classroom, then run like Hell when the cops arrive.
What I need is fear. Only then will I truly find life.