Years back, we used to go to the mall for sport. We would grab a dubious food-fair dinner, then look at the electronics, we’d buy some books; and maybe some DVDs. I would ogle the laptops and game systems. We didn’t have a lot of spare money, so there were so many things we wanted that we didn’t have. We pressed our faces to the glass and held back our desire like an itch we refused to scratch.
Then, we sold our condo and bought a home. This was all before the housing market started to rattle, so we had some money left over that we could use as money. Laptop? Bought one. Video game console? Bought one. DVDs? We rounded out our collection. Before you knew it, we had everything we wanted as far as the trinkets were concerned. For a time, we continued to go to the mall and play at the game of consumption. We didn’t need anything, so we bought little. Our weekly mall wanders became less and less frequent. That gave more time in front of the computer.
Fast forward a few years. Smorgasbords are a mirage for fat people. You can go and load up on the healthy stuff. Or, you can go and load up on the crap food. We would go because smorgasbords were like a college kid dining at home: show up, immediately eat what you wanted and as much as you wanted. Then leave. For picky eaters who wanted to just eat what they chose, it was great. Smorgasbords are a carte blanche to overeat. I’m fat. I got to be fat, in part, through overeating. We got to the point where we were no longer overeating, but there was an overlap wherein we still went to the smorgasbord. After the second time that we showed up and didn’t want more than one plate of food we asked, “Why are we here?” Smorgasbords are not known for their fine cuisine, just large amounts of passable chow. So if we were not going to overeat, what was the point of going?
If you watched Time Tunnel or Quantum Leap, you knew what happened to the main heroes. Every week they would try to get home but they would have no luck. Every week, they’d get *this close* before landing in the next episode. This is how it feels about some of my issues. What happens when you get home? What would happen if one of Sam Beckett’s leaps landed him in the accelerator? That’s not in the plan.
People believe in the End Times. "Apocalypse" doesn't mean doomsday. It means great revelation. Environmentalists think we're going to kill a planet with billions of years of previous tenants. Christians think the end is nigh-- that God is going to take away our toys. We look to the heaven and fear those Earth-crossing asteroids. We entertain the fantasy of a Zombie Apocalypse. Part of each of us is prepping for The End. What if we don't face Doomsday, but only revelations? If it's all for naught, we can try, fail and take solace in it all being moot. What if nothing is going reign down or rear up and wipe us out? What do we do with a lack of doom?
I’m fat and I don’t have a secure source of money. I was fat from the age of 4 through to 20. I lost it and then started to regain my weight. Now I am very fat again and I am working to lose that weight. My income is okay (I’m a one-man shop who is working with clients with shallow wallets (sorry: it’s true)), but it’s all piecework. If I get sick or take a day off, my income drops. I call this a case of square wheels: the wheels can turn, it will be bumpy and you need to put an undue amount of effort into pushing it to make it go forwards.
What would happen if I stopped being fat? What would happen if I could get a secure source of money? I’m following a regimen that currently is allowing me to lose my weight. That will be an all-year process and I’m barely out of the driveway on that. Some of my friends enjoy making with the fat jokes. Ha ha. What happens if I stop being fat? What will they joke about? People treat fat people like they’re handicapped. Sometimes physically. Sometimes mentally. In response, I have been conditioned to treating people like they’re bigots. If people stop treating me like I’m crippled, what would happen next? Will there be a lag of unjustified bigotry?
I am in the early stages of a few projects that can scale and grow. If they take off, I could see my income climb. My wheels could round off. I feel like Sam Beckett, weekly leaping into this hapless design project; or that dead-end contract. Every week I try to do what I can in the hopes that I can leap... home. I sink a lot of time into these missions: the short term do-the-paying-work missions; and the long term I-could-make-really-money projects. I sit here programming under a self-imposed imprisonment. I used to like to write. Eventually the writing project would be done. The Internet breeds only sickly babies that will always hunger, live in jeopardy and die if neglected. I want to be done with my projects. I want to know that I can walk away from my desk without the baby dying. On the surface, it looks like I am always online and essentially addicted to the Internet. That’s how my life manifests, but the truth is, I don’t like the Internet. I use it as a tool. I have started to resent that it has supplanted so much in our lives. Listening to music; watching videos; reading; storing documents; communication.Governments are directing their “clients” to use the self-serve websites. If the client doesn’t have Internet access, they don’t have access to the government. I have built a lengthening list of "nevers" that I will never see or experience as a middle-aged married man who has to juggle a kid, a job and some extended family drama. On my "nevers" list is a list of destinations I will never see in person. If I cannot walk away from the Internet for a day, a week or a month, I cannot travel. If could walk away, any money I could save and put to a trip evaporates before I can get to the travel agent. The Internet is there to help me with that, too. I now turn to Google Maps and parachute into the street view in North America or Europe. It’s always sunny. They never lose my luggage. I can pause the trip without anyone getting upset. I cannot travel because of my needy career choice, but I can see all of these places.
I see the logic of the Internet taking the place of so much. I see the value proposition of using the Internet to carry out these tasks and fill these roles. But it’s like saying that cannibalism is an efficient use of protein: it’s logical but not palatable. I sit here, in this captivity that is borne from being too broke, busy and fat to fly.
What would happen if I lost the weight and gained the flexibility in my job? Hopefully there would be a lag. A lag before the income was sucked into the ether. A lag before people drew me into busy-work? I felt a weird hollowness when I got my creature comforts taken care of with some spare cash. I felt a bit of sadness that I couldn’t gorge myself because I didn’t desire to overeat. It’s like winning a grudge when you’re so used to being angry.
I would ask myself, "Now What?"
"Don't forget the story about the man who got everything he wanted?... He lived happily ever after."