Comfortable Lines

Katy - Brentwood, California
Entered on September 25, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I remember as a child I used to hear that witty little saying, “Don’t step on the cracks or you’ll break your mother’s back” whenever I walked down sidewalks. So what would I do? Step on every single crack, even if I had to go out of my way to get to it. I didn’t do this because I actually wanted to see my mother’s back break, but more because I wanted to know the outcome for myself. Every time I was told not to step out of the lines, I would put just a little bit of my toe over to see for myself.

Now that I’m getting older, more lines are appearing. There’s the lines I’m told to walk- ones that will get me the well-paying job that will continue to pay well even as I become disinterested, the good marriage that will claim my love for a person through combined expenses and a lifetime together even if the love fades, and the big house where I can store all my objects that define my family’s social status.

Then there are the lines I see from this path- ones that lead to what I believe would make me happy. They let me follow my passions even if I make little money because I know being passionate about what I’m doing is more important than how much I make; believe that I can remain in love without a commitment to stay together forever and if I do fall out of love, I can leave without paperwork; and know I don’t need a big vacant house to declare who I am and how much I’m worth.

As I look around at the people who are telling me which lines to walk, I realize that they have one thing in common: they’re all stuck. They go through routines and focus on words such as “security” and “success.” Paths that they always wanted to take but were too afraid become nothing but memories of the past and dreams of the present. Years pass and they continue to go through the motions, “comfortably numb,” until the day they die, instructing me to do the same.

I see this numbness, and I don’t want that. I want happiness, excitement, pain, passion, and disappointment. Author Henry Rollins once said, “I don’t want to pass through life like a smooth plane ride . . . I hope I end up a blithering idiot cursing the sun- hallucinating, screaming, giving obscene and inane lectures on street corners and public parks. People will walk by and say, ‘Look at that drooling idiot. What a basket case.’ I will turn and say to them ‘It is you who are the basket case. For every moment you hated your job, cursed your wife, and sold yourself to a dream that you didn’t even conceive. For the times your soul screamed yes and you said no. For all of that.”‘

My life is not a compromise. This I believe.