I am not at ease around positive emotions.
To be honest, I don’t trust ‘em.
(When your Dad dies when you’re six, it kind of colors your subsequent outlook.)
But here it is, this sunshiny emotion.
And I am warily unsure how to handle it.
Right now, I am experiencing a constricting tightening in my throat. It is possible I am feeling the lingering after-effects of my cold. But I don’t think so. I think I’m just really excited.
In his heyday, comedian Steve Martin called this spirited phenomenon
Translated, in Yiddish, as
Which is the same thing, only with ear locks and an aversion to shellfish.
My reaction engulfed me in a tsunami of expectation. I barely slept last night. (Though that could have been the coffee. You see how I reach for explanatory alternates? It’s the cold. It’s the coffee. Anything, but admit I am genuinely excited.
I am virtually never excited. So this feeling, it’s like… (AS WITH THE “FUN HOUSE” CRAZY MIRRORS AND UNSTEADY FLOORS)…
“What’s going o-o-o-o-o-o-o-on?”
As I write this, I imagine this “Mad Scientist”, ingesting some dangerous concoction, scrambling to record his reactions before entirely losing his…
Okay. Let’s not get overly dramatic.
“Wait! Are those Mexican Jumping Beans dancing in my brain!?!”
It’s like a bad sixties “drug trip” I… heard other people tell me about.
Here’s the thing. (Before I am consumed in literary hyperbole.)
I am not sure if I told you about this. I might have, as a throwaway “Follow-Up”, but that in no way renders its significance.
After being rejected in my efforts to attend “The Oxford Experience”, an adult
off-season program at England’s Oxford University (after my wife got accepted, even
though it was my idea in the first place), after regular badgering – inquiring if
anyone had dropped out, or passed away or decided to go to Cambridge – I finally
received an email, beginning…
“We are delighted to inform you…”
I did not need to read further. Who writes,
“We are delighted to inform you we continue to have no place for you at ‘The Oxford
Not the English. They invented politeness. At least, for the English. The Irish
have a differing perspective. And the Indians, Americans and South Africans. Plus,
they expelled all the Jews in Thirteenth Century. Generously, we have an “Eight-
Hundred-Year Rule” on letting bygones be bygones.
But don’t do it again.
Returning to the immediate point of this exercise…
I was in.
I was going to Oxford.
And I couldn’t possibly have been happier.
Studying Political Thinking in the Twentieth Century, living in ancient dormitories with no elevators or air conditioning?
Who wouldn’t enjoy that!
I have already read the first book on the “Reading List.” Think I’ll remember anything by July? I’ll be lucky if I recall where I left the book.
Wait, lemme look.
“Upper left drawer of my filing cabinet.” Remind me when I ask you later, will ya? I’d really appreciate it.
The thing is, since it is currently January, I have to temper my enthusiasm for six months.
And keep my negative thinking from questioning my dream, the darkly balancing mind-set:
“The more you want it, the less likely it will transpire.”
Why do I think that way?
Because it’s me, people. (My entire career I expected my career to be over. And guess what? Thirty years later, it was.)
As in, “The consolation of imaginary things is not imaginary consolation”, “The product of imaginary concerns… feel like actual concerns.”
Leaving me a two-pronged agenda, neither of which is on my regular playlist:
I have to banish whispering worries that it ain’t gonna happen.
And manage this alien feeling of boundless enthusiasm.
That’s my challenge,
As I seriously confront it.
Bouncing on my heels,
Waiting eagerly for summer.