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Carefree - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
cbertsch
cbertsch
Carefree
For approximately ninety minutes late this morning, I was without care. Technically, "careless" means "without care." But the difference in implication is significant. I wasn't oblivious. On the contrary, I'm rarely as focused on the demands of the moment as I was today. What I felt was a sense of being at peace with myself and others that I've experienced very little over the past decade. It was as if something had broken inside me, revealing in the process that it was no longer needed. I'd reached what seemed like an end, yet transformed it seamlessly into a means. The light contributed to my frame of mind. I was in Tucson, but the whitish haze softening edges in the distance inspired body memories of the Washington D.C. area. The car's air conditioning powerfully reinforced that conflation of past and present. The coolness smelled the way office buildings along K, L and M streets in Northwest do in summer, when you walk in from the heat and feel your sweat dry.

Yet the biggest reason for my sense of well-being, oddly enough, was the fact that I was severely underslept. During my teenage summer vacations, I'd often ride into D.C. with my father and then tour the city while he worked. Because I consistently stayed up to the wee hours of the morning -- something I also did during school, to my scholarly detriment -- I would only have gotten an hour or two of shut-eye before he was getting ready for work. Somehow, though, my exhaustion made me more attentive, both to my environment and my detachment from it. It was like a mild, but 100% natural mind-altering substance was coursing through me. When I walked inside buildings to cool off and regroup, I would have a momentary sense of accomplishment, like I was an adventurer who had arrived at his next port of call. That's sort of how it seemed today, as I went about my errands: applying sunscreen, pumping gas, selecting a protein drink, checking out the ticket prices for upcoming concerts. I suppose that running on one's last reserves of energy provides a shortcut to clarity. For me, anyway. So I could be simultaneously careful in the execution of tasks and without the sort of care that implies a looking back or forward. "Carefree" instead of "careless."

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