I believe in sliced potatoes.
My first childhood memory is of a serious fever. I’m lying in bed and at the same time somehow suspended in a very black vacuum. All I can see is potato slices whirling around me, going left to right. I want them to stop. I want to stop and somehow reach the center. There aren’t any potatoes in the center.
I was no more than 6 at the time. What I saw then became a metaphor for the decades to come. I no longer call the circular whirling things potatoes. I now call them planets, whirling around a central sun. But getting to the sun has proven difficult. Do you know that the hardest thing to travel toward in the solar system is the sun? To hit it you need to lose all of the motion you have, then you fall gracefully into it. If you have any motion left you miss it and come back on the other side.
Everything else of interest happened to me when I was 9 and a half. Physically I’m much older, but mentally I’m still 9 and a half. That’s because kids who turned 10 stopped being curious and started grabbing things. Girls stopped laughing and started combing their hair. 10 years old was the dividing line between young and confused.
But now I know things I simply did not know when I was 6. You see, no one really grows old. There is a light, this central sun, that shines inside everyone. No matter how much they grab, no matter how many combs they have, this sun never seems to go out. Sometimes there are lots of potatoes, but you can always find the sun.
One time I saw a man playing a harmonica on the streets of San Francisco. He wanted money and was acting like a jovial clown. I despised him. How could anyone sink to such a low level? He was a potato. Once I tasted my own arrogance I would have to experience the other side to balance it. Years later I became him, dancing to silly tunes, watching how many eyes despised me because I had sunk to such a low level.
And so I return to that child of 6 and I have to tell him not to give up. Get through this moment, tomorrow is a day without flying potatoes. You will make it! You will one day be still, so still you will gracefully fall into the sun and rejoin the flame of life within you. It will all be a most marvelous adventure, and you will tell stories no one could dream of. And when you do, then what? That light, that love you have for everyone and everything will simply burst out and you will once again fly out to the potatoes. Why? Because there is more of life you haven’t tasted. What are sunsets like on Pluto? What’s it like to talk to the winged trees of Callisto? What is the color of your new daughter’s eyes? Yes, you will do it again, and again, and again. Because you are love and love seeks to share whatever it is with everyone and everything.
In what do I believe? I believe in potatoes. I believe in you.
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