Tag Archives: Dreams

If I Die Before I Wake

(Image/fbccoverstreet.com)

(Image/fbccoverstreet.com)

I think about dying sometimes.

I think about dying because sometimes people die.

I can’t decide how afraid of it I am. I tend to feel a little afraid of any situation in which I have no prior experience, or am missing a lot of information and don’t know what to expect. So I guess I’m a little bit afraid to die, which I like better than three years ago when being awake hurt so much that staying alive too long feeling that way seemed much scarier.

One of the worst things about being a divorced, single father is that there’s no one around to document life with my son. My little second-grader, thankfully, has several family members on his mom’s side who he sees pretty regularly.

But because we live far from my extended family, and I’ve been single for three years, there’s this huge chunk of my son’s life that only exists in his memory and mine. If I die today, he’ll only have a few pieces of visual evidence documenting our life together.

He curled up next to me on the couch last night. He wanted to look at old photos of him and us. Even though I’m an infrequent Facebook user, it’s still my largest repository of old photos.

It’s a time warp, because there’s close to nothing from the past three years.

If you judged and measured my life in terms of Facebook activity, it’s not hard to see the world turned upside-down in 2010, and stayed that way. My son didn’t recognize some of his friends from today because they were so young in the photos.

We got to Fourth of July photos from 2010.

“Look dad! That’s when mommy still came with us when we go to visit grandpa’s,” he said.

“That’s right, bud. You’ll see mommy in a lot of these photos,” I said. “See? There you both are. Look at that face.”

“That was one of my happiest years.”

“What do you mean?”

“When I was 3, and mommy still lived here.”

That sort of thing used to make me cry. I’m tougher now.

“Do you remember when mommy still lived here?”

“Yeah. I remember.”

We flipped back to Christmas 2009. There was a photo of him standing in the middle of my in-law’s old living room, a place he spent much of his first three years before the whole world changed.

“Where is that, dad?”

“Are you serious? You don’t know where that is?”

“I just don’t really remember,” he said.

I think about his grandfather—my father-in-law—all the time. We lost him unexpectedly one day, and some of us went into an involuntary tailspin afterward.

I don’t presume to know what happens after we die, but if it’s possible for him to peek in on his grandson, I know he is. He was an awesome grandpa.

I wonder what he thinks of me. Maybe he feels like I failed his daughter, and considers me a major disappointment. Maybe he hears me sometimes when I get upset with his grandson, and wishes he could tell me to chill out and maintain perspective.

You know?

Because we’re all going to die one day. And really? Who gives a shit about a few crumbs on the dining room floor?

Sometimes, I think about dying in my sleep.

I hope my son is with his mom if that happens any time soon.

She and I rely on mobile phones to communicate with each other. Sometimes when one of us is particularly busy and distracted, or we have our phones plugged in and away from us, the other worries that something bad might have happened after we don’t get responses to texts, or our calls go unanswered.

If enough hours go by, I start concocting potentially terrifying stories and possible explanations in my head, because that’s what I do sometimes in the absence of facts.

At my son’s age, even though he’d be really upset and afraid, I think he’d be able to use my phone to reach his mom. I think he knows to go to the neighbors for help in an emergency.

I hope he’ll be okay.

I hope my life choices didn’t add up to a freakish moment where a young child has to face the body of his dead father and try to figure out what to do next, and then not even have very many photos of our good times together to look through afterward.

I worry about my parents. I don’t call them enough, so maybe they secretly think I don’t love and appreciate them as much as I do.

I worry about my family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. I hope they know what they mean to me. They probably don’t. It’s probably my fault. But I hope they guess correctly.

I worry about you. Most of you won’t care or notice. But some of you will. If you’re still reading this meandering, self-indulgent post, you’re probably someone who cares. You’re probably someone who might notice when the updates simply stop. Hopefully by design. But maybe not. Maybe one day there just won’t be any more heartbeats. Then, no more posts. And maybe some of you will wonder what happened. Maybe some people will think I quit, or ran out of words.

Maybe some of you will guess correctly that I died, and be frustrated that there may never be a way to know for sure.

I might not die today. I probably won’t, since I’ve never died any of the other days I’ve been alive. But maybe I will. Maybe this is the day the top of the hourglass runs dry. That’s the point, really. We never know.

If I’m out of time, what is it that needs to be said, and to whom?

Is that really worth feeling upset over?

Shouldn’t the things people think about in their final moments be the things we put most of our focus on?

I think so.

I hope this isn’t the last thing I ever write. That they don’t find the plates I left in the sink. The stack of mail on my desk. The unmade bed. The unfinished Pinewood Derby car on the bench downstairs.

The last father-son project. Unfinished, like this life.

We probably don’t wake up one day feeling ready to die—feeling like we got it all right, and accomplished all we set out to do.

Maybe the best we can do is whatever’s in front of us today.

Offering to help.

Forgiving them.

Forgiving ourselves.

Trying hard.

Loving harder.

Choosing hope.

Choosing courage.

If I knew this was the last thing I would ever write, I would finish with a note to my son (Love you, kid.):

Thinking about dying is only awesome if you use it as motivation to take nothing for granted. I did many bad things. But I always chose hope, and it has never failed me. I hope you will, too.

I don’t spend most of my life thinking about dying. I promise.

I spend most of it thinking about living.

I spend most of it thinking about living because sometimes people really live.

Be one of them.

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The Quicksand

Quicksand

The more I fight it, the faster I sink.

My heart beats faster—but not in an excited, happy way. More like anxiety.

For months, I punched these keys. Almost every day. Bouncing between the past and the present and the totally inconsequential in an attempt to paint the picture of one average guy trying to make his way in the world after everything changed.

I thought maybe it could help me.

I thought maybe it could help someone like me.

And maybe it still can.

But something’s broken now. Something related to my writing and thinking and ability to produce is broken.

It doesn’t feel like cutting back. Like some necessary rest and relaxation.

It feels like sinking.

It feels like failing.

I want to be a writer. That’s who and what I want to be.

I am a father. I am a divorced guy. I am a friend and a son and a co-worker.

I know I am those things.

I don’t know that I’m a writer.

You’re not a writer if you don’t write. You’re not a writer if you can’t write. If I’m not practicing my craft… if I’m not growing and learning and discovering and experimenting… then I’m nothing.

I won’t have only become what I always feared most, personally—a failure at marriage.

I will have also become what I’ve always feared most professionally as well—a nobody. Just another punk in a cubicle.

Some of you are going to want to say nice things. You’re going to want to electronically pat me on the back and encourage me.

“Hey Matt! It’s totally okay! Take a break!”

“Hey Matt! It’s totally okay! You post way more than I do!”

“Hey Matt! It’s totally okay! I work in a cubicle, too!”

Please don’t.

There needs to be more to life than punching the proverbial clock wearing business casual.

We spend more than half of our waking hours sitting around offices and doing laundry and washing dishes and mowing grass and dusting window sills and vacuuming carpet and running a bunch of errands all the time. Half of those errands are because we want to own all that shit we’re maintaining and going to work for so we can finance having it.

It sounds so insane to me when I put it that way. And I don’t take it back. That’s exactly what most of us are doing.

I think that can be a very good thing for a family raising children. Stability and routine are nice things. Safety and reliability should not be taken for granted.

But for a guy like me?

The 50-percent dad?

It feels like a wasted life.

And don’t tell me it’s okay. Don’t enable me. Don’t say it’s okay to short-change our future selves. Because it’s one of the worst things we do as people. Sacrifice our futures for the now.

If I am the sum of my choices, then I am a punk in a cubicle because of those choices.

If I want to be something more, I need to make better choices.

In Over My Head

Several months ago, I wrote a post about writing—about how I wanted to be more than just a guy writing marketing copy for someone else.

A guy who used to read these posts but doesn’t anymore told me I needed to check myself.

That most of the people reading here are writers. And all of us dream of being able to pay for our lives writing the things we want.

About how hard and impractical that is.

About how most of us fail to achieve that.

That it might be time for me to reevaluate my goals. Lower my expectations. Dream smaller, if you will.

And maybe he was right. Maybe we’re all a bunch of foolish dreamers. A bunch of nobodies destined to stay nobodies.

Maybe I’ve been in quicksand this entire time. And maybe now I’m finally in over my head.

Maybe I’m trying to force something that really isn’t there.

Maybe I should just be happy with what I have.

Isn’t that what we’re all really chasing anyway? Contentment? Happiness?

But I’m not content.

I’m not happy.

The only thing I can think of to write about is writing and how much of it I’m not doing.

I don’t know how to escape the quicksand.

Just like I didn’t know how to fix my marriage. The harder I tried, the worse I made it somehow.

I can’t do that here.

I can’t keep forcing posts just to be feeding that ‘Publish’ button.

Maybe I need to step away for a bit. To go analog. To write with a pen and paper. Making notes for the book project. Making notes about all of the things I want to do or learn about or think about or experience and eventually write about.

Maybe that reader and commenter was right about me. About us.

That we are who we are. And acceptance is the key to making peace with it.

That things are just the way they are and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Maybe that applies to everything.

That we shouldn’t try to improve our schools.

That we shouldn’t rethink the way we approach our relationships which fail half the time.

That we shouldn’t try to fight disease and crime and poverty.

That we should merely accept these as facts of life.

Maybe sometime I’ll think and feel just like that.

But not today.

“Are you feeling, the feeling that I’m feeling?

Dreams are like fish. You gots to keep on reeling.”

 – Dreamin’, G. Love & Special Sauce

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The Perfect Amount of Death

Comic by Tyson Cole.

Comic by Tyson Cole.

Austin Kleon starts every day by reading obituaries.

Not to be morbid.

Not to obsess about death.

Not to channel sadness.

But to celebrate life. To focus on the present. To live every moment.

Kleon is the author of Show Your Work!, which I loved, and Steal Like an Artist which will be the next book I read when it arrives today or tomorrow.

I’ve been thinking about the need to be aware of our mortality for a long time. I’ve written on the topic several times.

But Kleon really got me thinking about this.

We don’t have to be excessively morbid or sad or whatever about death. I’m not trying to be edgy or dark. I’m just stating a fact disguised as an opinion: We’re all going to die. We’re dead. A death sentence. All of us. Everyone we know and love and everyone we don’t know.

It doesn’t have to be so big and scary. And even if it is, we should use it as a tool right now.

It can be the perfect reminder to live.

The perfect amount of death.

The Infertility Plague

What if there were no more kids? No more babies? Like in P.D. James’ The Children of Men.

Seth Godin asks better questions than any journalist I’ve ever seen. That guy would have been an amazing reporter or television guy if he wanted to be. And he asked that one the other day.

Godin fires wisdom and thought-provoking commentary to my inbox multiple times per day. I feel guilty quoting the same guys over and over again, but hell. He’s the best for a reason.

He wrote his No more kids? post a couple days ago, and I think it applies to this “perfect amount of death” idea quite nicely.

“What if, in some sort of sci-fi solar flare cataclysm, it was impossible for humans to have more kids? No more babies.

How would we treat the last generation? Would we say to the youngest student on Earth, “sorry the school is really run-down and crowded and poorly staffed, but we don’t want to invest in you?” Would we let the last generation grow up in poverty, or would we do everything we could to ensure that this one last time, we did it right?

To make the example a bit more banal, what if your organization discovered that it would never have another new customer? That the customers you’ve got now are the last ones you will ever have… Would you treat them differently? 

Sometimes, when it seems like there’s an endless parade of prospects walking by, it’s easy to discount this particular person.

No new prospects, no more new web visitors, no more untouched email lists… And far more dramatically, no more new students, no more chances to open doors, inspire genius or create connection.

I wonder what happens when we treat children and customers like maybe, just maybe, they’re the last chance we get to do it right.” – Seth Godin

We Can’t Forget to Live

We all have the right to spend our time any way we choose.

My way is not necessarily more right or wrong than anyone else’s. In fact, it’s a certainty my way is more wrong in many instances.

All you have to do is look around you. At all of the wasted life and opportunity.

I’m not denigrating other people’s choices. But most people aren’t happy about them. It seems to me that most people regret the way their lives turned out, at least in some respects.

But what if we were permanently mindful of the fragility of it all?

What if there were no more kids?

What if there were no new friends?

What if we all had our Countdown to Death™ watches ticking away on our wrists?

You still choosing the huge wedding over world travel?

You still choosing the mortgage over financial freedom?

You still choosing the cubicle over things that fill your soul with joy and inspiration?

The perfect amount of death will remind us to do that, I think.

To not be afraid. And to not be sad.

Just an effective daily reminder.

To kiss the girl.

To laugh more.

To dance when it sounds good.

To take the leap.

To speak up.

To run faster than the dream so you can make it your life.

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The Dream Weaver

We can learn how to be unbeatable.

We can learn how to be unbeatable.

As the clock ticked down on my marriage, I was a total wreck of a human being.

I faked it well. To friends. To family. To co-workers.

I can fake a lot of things well.

But every single day was shitty. Suffocating. All I wanted was to feel like the person I married wanted me in her life. But that almost never happened anymore. It had been going on so long, I forgot what the old “normal” even felt like.

Sometimes she’d be extra-cold in the morning and I’d stand in my kitchen and cry before driving to work.

Sometimes she’d be extra-cold at night and go to bed without saying goodnight and she’d walk around our bedroom above me—each footstep a kick to the face. Sometimes I’d cry then, too.

It was extra pathetic.

But I like to talk about it because it’s embarrassing and I think it’s important to unload that stuff. I spent so many years not crying that I think I was saving it up for moments just like that. Similarly, I spent so many years wearing masks and hiding things about myself that I think I was saving up these embarrassing stories for moments just like this.

Men aren’t supposed to cry. Not the tough ones anyway.

Maybe I’m not tough.

The Karate Kid wasn’t tough. Daniel was getting his ass handed to him by the Cobra Kai until Mr. Miyagi morphed him into the champion of the All Valley Under 18 Karate Tournament.

Maybe I can learn The Crane Technique like Daniel.

I’m being obnoxious. But I’m also being serious. I don’t know whether I’m tough. Probably depends on how we define it.

But I’m beginning to believe very strongly that we can be anything we want or need to be.

So if the world needs me to be tough, I will be.

After all, I don’t cry much anymore.

The Wrong Side of the Bed

I felt super-shitty when I woke up this morning. And it’s not because I drank too much for St. Patrick’s Day. (I did not.)

It was because I had a very lucid dream about my ex-wife and she was upset with me.

It felt just like all of those mornings and nights where I was desperate to earn a smile or a hug or some kind of acknowledgement or approval, but never did.

I don’t remember even one detail from the dream. I only know she was upset with me. But more importantly, I cared.

I cared so much.

So, I woke up this morning a total wreck. Just like I was a year ago in the final hours and days of our dying marriage.

Why do I care?

I don’t know why I care. Habit? Programming I haven’t fully purged?

It’s really not important. I got cleaned up and started focusing on my day and I feel fine now.

But the memory of feeling horrible stuck with me. All because my ex-wife, whose approval I could never win, was living in my subconscious.

You’re not good enough!

This is good news.

That I can go from innocently living my life to feeling absolutely horrible because an imaginary version of someone was upset with me.

THAT’s how powerful my mind is.

It can take something that isn’t real and make it real.

I’m not a huge fan of Tony Robbins-like rah-rah speeches about the power of positive thinking. I don’t like corny things.

But I’m right about this.

I must be.

I wish you could have felt it, too. These extraordinarily powerful feelings because of something that didn’t even happen.

It’s good news.

It means I can choose how I feel.

It means I get to decide who I want to be.

It means I can live my dreams.

It means I can make the impossible possible.

And I don’t know much.

But I think it means you can, too.

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The Bookend Dreams

It could mean so many things. Or nothing at all. Photo by Erich Veith

It could mean so many things. Or nothing at all. Photo by Erich Veith

I woke suddenly and sat up. Terror reverberating throughout every piece of me.

Breathe.

I looked over. My five-year-old son had crawled into my bed at some point during the night. That’s not uncommon.

Just breathe.

He’s okay.

I’m okay.

In. Then, out.

At some point a little over a year ago, I stopped remembering my dreams.

I remember some. But almost never anymore. This sticks out to me because I’ve spent most of my life having very vivid and memorable dreams.

I can remember reoccurring ones from my youth. Some frightening. Some happy. Some sad.

I can remember some sexually explicit dreams. Basically, if you’re female and we’re not related, my subconscious has had sex with you while I was sleeping.

  1. I’m sorry.
  2. I hope Fake You liked it.

But this week, I’ve had two dreams that have REALLY resonated with me.

They are different than any dream I can ever remember having before. And I want to be open-minded about what that might mean.

Dream #1

The night after reading this post by a lovely wife and mother that goes by K—and who says nicer things about me than anyone who is not my grandmother—I had a dream about an owl.

A white owl.

It was huge. I was in a strange house. The kitchen in this house was sectioned off by a large L-shaped island with overhead cabinets.

And looking through the gap between the cabinets and the counter below, I could see the owl.

Gigantic.

Majestic.

Beautiful.

But I was afraid. So afraid.

I didn’t want it to know I was there.

Still. So still.

Then it turned its head toward me.

Eye contact.

white owl

And then I awoke.

Weird.

“To see an owl in your dream symbolizes wisdom, insight, magic, expanded awareness and virtue,” according to Dream Moods. “You are highly connected to your intuitive senses and psychic power. The owl is also synonymous with death, darkness and the subconscious. The appearance of an owl may be telling you to let go of the past or certain negative behaviors.”

Dream #2

First I was walking the streets of a foreign town. Asia, maybe? Street vendors. The kind I’ve only seen on television.

And then, as dreams often shift suddenly, I find myself on a commercial jet, flying home.

I was in the front row. Alone, on the left side.

There is so much talking. Talking. Talking. Talking.

And then most of it stopped. And it sounded like it does on red-eye flights in the middle of the night.

Dark. Just the hum of the engines and air conditioning system.

I turned around, surprised that the talking had stopped suddenly.

Everyone had bags over their heads. Everyone for as far as I could see. Bags like this.

bags on head

I turned to my right. There was one other person sitting up in the row opposite me. Then he leaned forward and covered himself with his coat.

I looked in front of me.

Even though there’s no way it could ever happen in real life, I could somehow see into the cockpit. And through the windshield into the lit sky.

And then the plane dove. Hard.

Straight down.

As if the pilots had done so intentionally.

No one screamed.

Like they knew it was coming. Like I was the only one to get on the plane without realizing it would never arrive at its destination.

I knew I was going to die. I accepted it more easily than I would in real life.

“Father, forgive me.”

Then, before the lights went out…

Awake.

Breathe. Just breathe.

Still alive.

Your son is safe.

“To dream that a plane crashes signifies that you have set overly high and unrealistic goals for yourself. You are in danger of having those goals come crashing down,” Dream Moods said. “Alternatively, the crashing airplane represents your lack of confidence, self-defeating attitude and self-doubt. You do not believe in your own ability to achieve those goals. Loss of power and uncertainty in achieving your goals are also signified.

“To wake up before you crash in your dream may simply be the anticipation of the crash that jolts you awake. It is similar to the notion of waking up before you hit the ground from a fall.”

Maybe there’s some truth there.

After all, it’s not hard to recognize because it often hurts.

But I didn’t like the part suggesting I don’t believe in my ability to achieve my goals. Because I do believe I can.

And I don’t like the part where both dreams signify death.

Because I’m not ready. There’s so much left to do.

But we don’t control that. The hourglass balance is what it is and none of us will know until those final grains of sand hit the bottom.

All we can do is make the best of right now. Today. This moment.

So that’s what I’m going to do.

Because I woke up this morning thinking I was going to die.

But I didn’t.

My child, sleeping peacefully at my side.

Breathe.

In, then out.

Still alive.

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Mr. Balls Proves Anything is Possible

Mr. Balls. An actual, real thing.

Mr. Balls. An actual, real thing.

If anyone ever tells you that you can’t do or be anything you want, you now have irrefutable proof they are wrong.

It’s a message of hope from Brazil.

And because of its existence—its simple purity—I can no longer doubt that ANYTHING is possible.

You want to be president of your country? It’s possible.

You want to move things with your mind? It’s possible.

You want to be a movie star? It’s possible.

In fact, after seeing something so unlikely, so impossible, I’m beginning to think my hopes and dreams are likely to happen.

And now, you can too.

Oi, Senhor Testiculo

Meet Mr. Balls.

His mission: To raise awareness about the dangers of testicular cancer.

His appearance: Tall, dark and handsome. A friendly face. Plump cheeks. Nice dental work. Covered in pubic hair. Clearly doesn’t manscape.

His existence: Improbable. Yet, real.

He’s the mascot for the Associação de Assistência às Pessoas com Câncer in Brazil.

“Both children and adults love taking pictures” with Mr. Balls, the AAPEC website said.

So, to recap: Mr. Balls is a massive, friendly faced, pube-covered, glistening ball sack to whom children are encouraged to nestle up next to for photo ops.

This is real, ladies and gentlemen.

This gargantuan, smiling, two-toothed, Portuguese-speaking scrotum man exists. A marketing team thought it up. Spent money creating it. And now it’s a thing.

Not only is it a thing, it has been so effective in raising awareness for testicular cancer (and for being a huge, noteworthy hairy man bag) that some random guy in Ohio found out about it and is sharing it with even more people.

Mr. Balls is a champion for hope. Hope that we can prevent, treat and perhaps one day cure testicular cancer. And hope that there is no dream too far-fetched to be realized.

Dream Big

One of my friends says this a lot. She has it tattooed on her wrist in her father’s handwriting, because it’s something he always said to her.

Dream. Big.

Nothing can stop you. Nothing.

“Mr. Balls!?!? Are you freaking shitting me right now with this!?!?!” the executive director of the Brazilian non-profit organization MUST have said in Portuguese when first presented with this idea.

But then some earnest little marketing person stood up to her or him, saying: “Yes. Mr. Balls. Because he’s the hero testicular cancer deserves, but not the one it needs right now.

“And so we’ll exploit him. Because he can take it. Because he’s not a hero. He’s a silent guardian. A watchful protector. A massive, hairy ball sack.”

And then the executive director shed a tear.

“My great uncle Gustavo had testicular cancer. And maybe Mr. Balls could have saved him,” she/he said. “Let’s do it.”

And now at public events, parents are snapping photos of their children hugging a walking set of huge, unshaven testicles.

It defies every bit of logic I possess.

It is almost, literally, inexplicable that Mr. Balls walks this Earth.

Yet, he does.

A smiling mascot. That looks like this.

I still can't believe this. If this can be real, then there is truly no stopping me. I can do ANYTHING. And so can you.

I still can’t believe this. If this can be real, then there is truly no stopping me. I can do ANYTHING. And so can you.

Doesn’t this mean anything is possible?

Doesn’t this inspire you and give you endless optimism about life’s possibilities moving forward?

If Mr. Balls can be a thing—a real thing—posing in children’s photos. Doesn’t that mean the sky’s the limit?

That I can make all the money I ever need from writing?

That I can find Mind-Body-Spirit balance once again?

That you can do anything your mind can dream up?

I say yes.

Mr. Balls says yes.

And now it’s time for you to look in the mirror, and say “Yes,” too.

Because I believe in us.

Today, we spell hope: B-A-L-L-S.

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Chauncey Billups Isn’t Real

As a child, I feared nothing. And I was going to be anything I wanted. No limits.

As a child, I feared nothing. And I was going to be anything I wanted. No limits.

I wanted to go to outer space.

Fly in space shuttles. Eat shitty space ice cream. Play on the moon. Colonize Mars.

I wanted to be an astronaut.

I grew up very close to the hometown of Neil Armstrong where they have an air and space museum named in honor of the first human being to set foot on the moon.

I had a lot of space books. I was always fascinated by the size and scope of Saturn. Jupiter. The Sun.

Our solar system is ridiculously awesome. And I wanted to see it all. I read a lot of little-kid space books growing up. I watched the Space Shuttle Challenger explode live on national television with a bunch of other kids in an elementary school gymnasium in first grade.

And STILL, I wanted to go out there. Unfazed.

I was young. Hopeful. Ambitious.

There were no limits. No restrictions on my dreams.

I was fearless.

It didn’t matter that I wasn’t genius enough to know astrophysics.

It didn’t matter that I didn’t know anything about aviation. Or engineering. Or advanced mathematics.

I was too ignorant to be scared of the dangers of shuttle launches. About how harsh and unpleasant the environments of every known non-terrestrial place actually is. To concern myself with the amount of time necessary to traverse the solar system.

Being a kid is amazing.

Who cares that I was never actually going to be an astronaut?

I wanted to be one. I believed I could be one. And I was happy.

Isn’t that all we really want? Happiness?

Of course it is.

Kids are our role models.

The ones that don’t know ANYTHING about limitations. Like my five-year-old son.

There are some lessons to be learned from their unbridled belief in what we might call the impossible.

The Death of a Basketball Star 

There’s only one problem with the mind of a five-year-old to whom facts don’t matter.

They sometimes use their no-limit superpowers to challenge truth. Conventional wisdom. Irrefutable proof.

My son’s godfather is one of my dearest childhood friends. An attorney who took care of all the legal work for my divorce hearing.

He has three daughters. They all have very pretty, relatively typical girl names.

But he doesn’t always call them by their names.

He calls them Frank. Or Rick. Or G.S. (an abbreviation for ‘gutter slut’).

It sounds approximately like this:

Daughter: “Daddy?”

Her father: “Yes, Rick?”

Daughter: “[Sister’s name] is taking all the dresses and doing something bad to them.”

Her father: “Hey! Frank! Stop being a little G.S.!”

This sort of thing makes me laugh and is consistent with the types of immature things we’ve been laughing about for close to 30 years.

Over the past few years or so, I’ve taken to calling people Chauncey. Or Chauncey Billups.

Billups is a five-time NBA All-Star point guard who has literally played for 25 percent of the NBA teams, but is most well-known for playing with the Detroit Pistons who he led to an NBA championship in 2004, winning MVP of the NBA Finals.

I like his name. Calling someone a Chauncey just feels so… organic. I do it a lot. I did it this morning to a driver who didn’t use his turn signal right after displaying total suckage at all other facets of motor-vehicle operation.

I call my son “Chauncey” or “Chauncey Billups” several times per week.

About a month ago, my son started saying “Chauncey Billups isn’t real!” every time I called him that.

I tried in vain to explain that, yes, Chauncey Billups is actually real. He’s a basketball player. In his prime, a pretty darn good one. And that he is a very real person. I showed him photos.

Doesn’t matter.

He’s five.

Facts don’t matter.

He can be anyone. Do anything. Create any reality.

Chauncey Billups isn’t real.

And Sometimes They’re Just Cute

I spent the past week writing down all of the things that kid said to me that made me laugh, just because.

Here are the highlights:

Me: “Good God, you smell like poop.”

Him: “That’s because I just went poop, dude.”

He grabbed a little toy. A little robot guy that can transform into a ball. He named him “Bowler” a couple years ago, and the name stuck.

“Hey Dad! Watch how fast Bowler is!” *does some rad fly-by move with Bowler and makes a whooshing noise* “He’s so fast he can fly through metal. He can fly through iron. NOTHING can cut through iron. Not even a pick ax. Right, Dad?”

We were eating Cleveland Indians peanuts on the deck off the back of the house. He loves cracking the shells as opposed to eating peanuts from a jar.

He said, “These are the best nuts. Are they the best nuts in your life, Dad?”

Then we were discussing our favorite sports teams. Basically all of the Cleveland sports teams because we hate happiness, apparently. The Browns in football. The Cavaliers in basketball. The Indians in baseball.

“You know who my favorite soccer team is?” he said.

“No,” I said.

“Tommy’s.”

“Tommy’s? Your friend at school?”

“Yeah. He’s the fastest runner in the whole school. I promise. He told me.”

He and I were practicing letters and reading one morning last week before work and school. Picking out words we could find on various objects. I have a fitness ball in my bedroom that I don’t spend enough time on. The brand is PURE.

“Hey, dude. Do you know what this says?” I said.

“P-U-R-E. That spells ‘exercise,’” he said.

He and I were watching a National Geographic special about dangerous reptiles. There was a segment about crocodiles.

“Hey, Dad. Saltwater crocs are cool. They can go in saltwater AND regular water.

“They can go in hot water AND cold water.

“They can go in any kind of water.”

He brought home a book from his school library titled Why Do Snakes Hiss?.

He pointed to the question mark in the title.

“Look, Dad! A mystery mark.”

“You mean, a question mark?”

“No. It’s a mystery mark.”

“Oh. You guys must call them that at school. That’s cool. But sometimes it’s called a question mark, buddy. It’s the symbol you write when you’re asking a question.”

He looked at me like I was the biggest dipshit on Earth.

“It’s a mystery mark.”

“Daddy’s a writer. I know about things like this.”

“Oh yeah? Well I can spell every color,” he said.

“Fine. Call it a mystery mark. You don’t have to be a little Chauncey about it.”

“Chauncey Billups isn’t real.”

Totally real.

Totally real.

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