Friday, February 27, 2009

Pick-Up Sticks

Sometimes you’re walking along and the lid comes off your container of pick-up sticks. You trip and helplessly watch as all your dreams fall out of the container and scatter in a mixed up heap in front of you. It is a game yes, but this time no one else is going to play along with you to pick them up – it’s all up to you because they are your sticks and you dropped them. The people who care about you will carefully step over them, but will still leave them for you to clean up. The folks who could give a rat’s ass about you and your dreams will saunter through your pile without a second thought – kicking a few to the curb as they go on their way.

You have to pick them up, and you want them all. How can you carefully retrieve them one by one without causing an avalanche? Decisions need to be made – do you lift the easiest ones first – guaranteeing some life points – you know – the “life would be satisfactory with these dreams achieved” sticks? Or do you take a bit more time and figure out a strategy to dive deep in the pile for the big ticket item – the 10 point stick and walk away from the rest of the pile?

Which sticks are okay to let fall off the pile without attempting to save them? A bottle of wine helps at this point, maybe two. Having a couple of good friends to help you analyze the mess in front of you isn’t a bad idea either. Will you be happier with a lot of little dreams, or do you really, really want the one big one at all costs? Do you pick slowly and surely, smaller dreams, moving them out of the way gently and patiently to uncover the big one. Maybe it’s easier that way – to let yourself get accustomed to the smaller goodies in life before you realize you deserve the big ones.

No matter what, something is going to slide. Sometimes the sticks in the pile you are facing are the dreams of your loved ones, which become your dreams too in a second-hand way. I don’t think we can live on second-hand dreams. You wouldn’t want that for your loved ones, so why is it good enough for you? Second-hand dreams are not interesting to anyone. You need to protect those sticks yes, but mostly you need to get them back to the pile of the person they belong to, so they can pick them up on their own.

The truth of the matter is that you are really wondering how in the hell you lost the damn lid in the first place! And why are you carrying the precarious package through the obstacle course of life that is littered with the stuff no one else picks up? Really, there are times you’d like to hurl the sticks out a window or at the nearest wall and just turn and walk away and not think about it at all. Occasionally you can think of other places you’d like to shove the sticks so they never see the light of day. To just live life in the middling place and numb the effects of the highs and lows of dreams achieved and lost. It seems like this would make life easy breezy and steady. And it would if the lost sticks didn’t have a way of turning up when you move the big furniture of your life around – they roll out from under the oddest places when you least expect it – like loose change, or moldy crumbs.

At times you may be forced to reevaluate your pile of sticks. Is it ever a good idea to throw some back in the pile? Or, do you just keep trying to collect more no matter what the point value? Maybe you don’t like the way the pile is sitting there mocking you, so it’s time to give the whole thing a little mix – swing your hips – dance on through to the other side and see if the view is different looking back at it over your shoulder.

Or, keep on dancing and don't look back. Maybe you'll find a barrel of monkeys next.

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