I watch so many, many movies these days. The TV is useless for much of anything else. I don’t know what I see in the movies. I like to escape, of course, but that is less appealing than it used to be. There are so many stories to see, ideas to hear, intrigues, and mysteries, and wonder. Still, I find it hard to sit still for movies anymore. I wander off and read, or check my email or auctions or Word Press stats, or play solitaire, and watch some more. It’s not so much the movies themselves, but that I am restless again, as restless as I was in 1973 and 1975 when I rode away from jobs and family and stability. I rode away the first time, but came back and tried again. In 1975 I rode away for good.
Movies seem to have relevance sometimes, but I am tired of extrapolating them into the myriad ways that they reflect my own life, or comment on it, or condemn it. They’re not as much fun as they used to be for me. Neither is my job, and my life, which once had purpose. It’s time to return to the carnival. We, most of us, speak of running away to join the circus, and that’s what I did so many years ago, although it turned out to be a carnival: no animals, well, live ones anyway. There were always the two-headed goats and five-legged cows, but they were actually in jars of formaldehyde, which you would only find out after you paid your money to see ’em. The marks always lined up to see those kind of things, and the painted signs outside always made it seem like the animals were real, and just inside. But, a carnival doesn’t put on animal shows, just people shows. Mostly it’s all “punk” kiddie rides and ferris wheels, and all the other mechanized thrill rides, with music blaring from giant speakers. No big top, no tents really. Lots of trucks, motor homes, and trailers. And electrical generators, of course. Need power for all that stuff. All those lights. All those popcorn “poppers” and games-of-chance “joints”. Try your luck, but you’re really buying cheap fluff. Hotdogs and ice cream and sodas. Eat and spend. Eat and spend. The real American dream. Carnies epitomize our values – buy low, sell high. Maximize profits. The ideal is to get the most for the absolute least you must provide in return. Provide thrills and escapism; promote gluttony for empty calories. Cheap thrills.
When I left the carnival, I realized that much of the world around me was the same, even Universities. It’s all sleight of hand, and manipulation, and cheap thrills. Education, sure, it’s important, but secondary to research grants that pay the bills. Stationary carnivals. My brain is tired from trying to keep it straight.
I went back to work, and finished college. I pay my bills, I eat a lot. I watch movies. I marry and divorce and marry and divorce again, and buy and spend and work and buy and spend. Cheap thrills. I am viewed as more respectable than a carny, but the differences are slight. Some towns only sit in one place, some move around, but we stay the same either way.
I can’t imagine I’d really want to work a carnival again. But, traveling is always good. Hiking? Bicycling? The physical activity is liberating. As you put distance behind you, it feels like a new world, a new beginning, and you can’t go back. All that walking or biking would be a waste if you went back. But, one doesn’t have to travel in the opposite direction to go back. I’ve been back to visit, but I live 1675 miles away. Where would I go away to now?