Monday, April 2, 2012

Street Corner Perspective

I’m sitting in a Jack-in-the-Box Restaurant at the corner of Citrus and Redlands Boulevard.  I want to kill about an hour before I take a Cheeseburger to Harrison so I’m prepared to read the Vonnegut book I just started.  As I’m eating I’m listening to Paul Simon.  The first song, Kodachrome, talks about the past being clear and inviting.  I get out my notebook and write that down because I don’t have a blog topic yet.  The music continues and I glance out the window.  It’s about 4:30 on a Sunday afternoon.  Cars and pedestrians are steady.  A man walks by carrying a two gallon gas can in the direction of the Arco Station.  I write that down too and a few minutes later he walks back carrying the gas can as if it’s full.   
     I have been discontent for weeks.  I haven’t realized how sulky that has made me.   Of course everyone close to me has.  When I haven’t denied being discontent and depressed, I have chastised myself for feeling that way.  I have a wonderful family, home and job and no business feeling anything but joyful about it all.  I have tried to understand why I feel how I feel.  I asked myself: “What do I want?”  Yesterday I stared out a window and thought about what I wanted, and tried to imagine the same question about the people I saw.
     The driver of the new black Mustang GT looks glum about something.  I convince myself that I would never look that way behind the wheel in one of those while in the Jack-in-the-Box drive thru.  I wonder, what emptiness is in this guy’s life?
     If I had won the latest lottery of almost uku-billion dollars I think I might have been happy for a while.  I sat at my table with my empty Ultimate Cheeseburger wrapper and told myself that I have simple tastes and would still eat at Jack-in-the-Box if I won the lotto.  Aside from trying to buy a blimp or something I think I would do what most people would do if I fell into a huge pot of money.  I think we would all want to pay off debts, maybe take care of family member’s debts and get set for life with a nice place to live.  In other words, we would try to satisfy our wants and needs.  I would assume my life would be free from troubles if all my needs were met. 
     I had first put my headphones on because there was a loony looking guy in the restaurant.  Now I think I just stares at everyone in turn.  He’s been talking to himself and switching seats.  No table in the store seems to suit him.  He’s not easy to please it seems. 
     Outside I see a pregnant woman get out of her Cadillac and go into the AM/PM store.  What does she want in life?  She comes out a few minutes later with a big fountain drink, gets into her car and drives away.
     I won’t state the cliché about what money can’t buy. You can imagine it.  But how many intangible things are there that money can’t buy?  If we won the jackpot what would we want that could not be purchased? 
     A kid with long hair on a scooter meets up with another kid his age outside the gas station.  They have an excited talk.  The second kid makes happy, animated gestures.  They head back up the street in the direction the first kid came, still talking.  Nothing seems to be bothering them this afternoon.
     After looking out the window for about 45 minutes I feel a little better.  I have been taking notes and imagining a blog entry.  Sometimes I feel like everything I do is futile and I don’t’ want to ever get up early and blog or write again.  That is an irrational feeling and I know I’m wrong to feel that way.  Then I think of something to write about and the feeling goes away.  Maybe this is an intangible need of mine that money couldn’t ever buy: something to write about.
     A party of ten walks down the street.  There are two or three adults and the rest are kids.  Two are in strollers.  They go into the AM/PM and I only see a girl and adult woman outside a few minutes later.  They are leaning against the wall of the store eating. 
     Some people are speeding in the right lane passing other cars.  I wonder what they want.  Are they really in a hurry or just conditioned to drive fast?  Someone pulls out of the gas station lighting a cigarette.  Another person is at the red light talking on their cell-phone.  
     I looked out the window and thought about all the people I saw and tried to imagine what they all wanted.  The pregnant lady wanted a soda.  Did she also want peace of mind and less heartburn?  I don’t know.  Did the guy speeding like a manic want to get home to see a loved one?  Did he have to use the bathroom?  Was he even paying attention to his speed and thinking about something else?  Did he love the thrill of speed and was getting exactly what he wanted then?  
What was the one kid telling the other about that was so cool?
Some people have to wait a while for a break in traffic to turn left out of the gas station.  Cars stack up behind them.
     I bought a cheeseburger before I left and took it to Harrison so he could have something to eat before his percussion ensemble performance.  I met his immediate need for some supper and that felt good to me.  
I was grateful for the time spent looking out the window.  I think I gained a little insight, or at least a reminder that I’m not the only one who wants things, some of which no amount of money can buy.  That was a healthy dose of perspective.  If I don’t count the meal I bought, that experience cost me nothing.  
I don’t want to assume that this blog meets anyone’s needs but mine.  It’s never my goal to teach a lesson.  If I can share some perspective that I have picked up, then that’s good.  


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