There is a big Halloween party this weekend at the Armory, one of those huge post-civil war buildings that are a world in themselves. This party has four floors of fun, costumes required, four years of history as a great party, all that.
It’s $30 cover, and then drinks on top of that, plus accessories. For example, my tube of Duo is almost dried up. I have been trying to decide if it’s a useful expenditure of my very limited resources.
I know that I wasn’t much of a late night person even in my youth, and like all of us, my endurance and stamina have diminished as I have gotten older. TBB could only stand one night partying in Key West, even though the drag queen star invited her back as an honoured guest.
As an introvert, parties were rarely my thing. I don’t work the room awfully well. “I always wanted to go to an orgy, but I was afraid I wouldn’t think of anything to say,” as the old joke goes.
And it’s not like I have some close friends to go with, who can provide support and companionship through the evening.
But, on the other hand, it is local, and it might be a place to meet some smart, cool, fun, performative, queer people in the area.
So I fall back to trying to model the evening, trying to figure out what kind of interactions would be worth my time and treasure, trying to figure out how likely I would be to enter them.
I’m trying to imagine how the evening might go, in other words.
And there is where the trouble lies.
The things I want in my life, the things I need in my life, the things that will delight me in my life are the things that have not yet happened to me.
I need the things that I can’t yet imagine, the events and opportunities that surprise me in lovely or stimulating ways, the interactions that open up new possibilities for me, the moments that are beyond my current imagination.
We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
We can’t become new by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created our current life, either. We have to open to new ways of thinking, new ways of seeing, new ways of being.
Think about the best moments of your life. Could you have predicted they would have been the best moments before they happened? Unless they were conventional milestones, like weddings, births or graduations, I suspect that they were unimaginable before the possibilities opened up.
That’s just the way life is. You want to make God laugh, tell her your plans. Plans never meet the first encounter with the enemy. Planning is vital, but plans are useless. How can we imagine all the amazing possibilities of a wide and wonderful world?
I can’t imagine where any future happiness for me will come from. That makes it really hard to have hope for positive change. My future seems mostly to be scarcity and pain.
It is what I can’t imagine that I need to hope for, those surprises where life turns on a dime, this time for the better.
How, though, do I allocate scarce resources to be available for the unimaginable? How do I get myself in the right place at the right time when going anyplace at all seems such a burden?
The lovely thing about popular culture is how stories are mostly designed to have a happy, or at least a sweet ending. People can watch stories about threats, danger and destruction because they have been taught to expect that things will come right in the end, that it will all turn out well, that conventions will be affirmed.
As a queer, I don’t have that expectation. I don’t carry the assumption that life is fair, just or even fun. In my world, people don’t end up where they are supposed to be, they end up where they are.
I have done A Course In Miracles. I know that a miracle is a change in perception where we learn to be more clear, more enlightened, more aware, closer to understanding. Miracles aren’t about getting what we want, they are about learning what we need to learn, because in the end, it is awareness carried through story that defines the content of a life. Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional, as the old Buddhist proverb goes.
To live fully, though, you still have to put yourself out there. Do it anyway, as Kent M. Keith would remind us. If you don’t do that, you don’t open the possibility for the magical, the surprising, the delightful, the transformative, the possibility for the unimaginable to enter your life.
The only time you cannot fail is the last time you try, so keep trying. Once you are out of the game, there is no possibility of another laugh, another open heart, another love.
But we are not just spirit and full of possibility, we are also flesh and blood humans born between piss and shit, living in a finite world where resources are limited, entropy reigns, and things die.
I need unimaginable happiness, delight that cannot be seen at my current level of thinking.
That makes allocating scarce resources very challenging. There is a reason people get more conservative, less profligate and risky as they get older; we have less left to lose, and every loss can feel major. We have learned how hard it is to recover from a failure, from a fall, knowing that even if we have a panic button, putting ourselves back together is costly. We have used up many of our nine lives.
Still, less left to lose can also be freeing. What is the worst that can happen? That which is going to happen anyway, even if we hoard and husband all we have? Take the chance; what have you got to lose? Do you really want to call it quits without using up all your chips?
And so I look at the party this Saturday night and have to make a choice. Do I use what I have to put myself out there, or should I keep what I have and use it in a way that is more probably going to get me a good return with less risk?
This is, of course, the problem I face everyday.
I need, need, need the unimaginable to happen in my life.
And the best I can do is to make choices of where to spend myself based on what I imagine could happen.
It’s a challenge.