Dressing up like something you aren’t and banging on your neighbor’s door to ask for snacks is a thing you can do any day of the year. In fact, you will be considered more original if you do it any day other than today.
In late July, as it became clear that I’d soon be cutting my intake of sugar, I thought “Oh no!” and acquired and ate, over the course of a day, a bag of gummy bears, a bag of licorice candy, and an entire box of ice cream sandwiches. Which you have to admit is pretty disgusting.
I tell you this to tell you that tastes change, willpower strengthens, and the tough part doesn’t stay so tough for long. The first two weeks were the worst in terms of withdrawal symptoms. Having excised most other added sugar from my diet, I eventually had to halve, and then halve again, the spoon of brown sugar I was putting in plain oatmeal because it came to taste too sickly sweet.
Now, I’ve had 7.5 pounds of Halloween candy sitting in my bedroom since the middle of October. For the past few days, the bags have even been open, making it especially easy to sneak a piece or five. I haven’t touched the stuff. It’s not candy corn and wax lips, either; it’s the candy that actually would have appealed to me when I was a kid (or three months ago). Tonight, I give it all away.
A yard that’s of interest to critters
The yard is alive, and not just with plants. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t find a time of day when there is not a bee inspecting some basil, a hummingbird whizzing past, a sparrow scratching at a patch of bare dirt, a scrub jay rattling branches deep within the oleander, a squirrel collecting twigs and brush for a nest, or a neighbor’s cat darting out from some leafy hiding spot.
If there’s something to do, they come. If the yard were all lawn and pavement, mow and blow service on Wednesdays, there wouldn’t be anything for them here.
What others see
One day not long ago, I was walking in my neighborhood when a boy in a group of boys called out to me. His spiffy hairdo and confidence in yelling out to a stranger told me he was probably the cool kid. Based on childhood memory, I girded myself to be the butt of some joke.
“Are you a YouTuber?”
“No,” I replied.
“Oh, you look like a YouTuber.”
Already on the defensive, I took this to mean that I had the appearance of someone who spends too much time on a computer and could not possibly exist outside of a basement. I was suitably insulted.
I encountered the same group, and the same boy, days later.
“You sure you’re not a YouTuber? You look like him.”
I mulled this over for a moment. “I’m not, but now I’m curious. What’s the name of the account?”
“Thanks, I’ll take a look.”
Glad to have clarified that he had a particular YouTuber in mind, but still on the defensive, I fixated on the word “typical” and imagined the channel would prove to be a parody account about a stereotypical gamer who’s a real loser. I was suitably, prematurely insulted.
As I would discover, though, TypicalGamer is not what I imagined. It’s actually a hugely popular YouTube channel with 12 million subscribers, where a guy (who doesn’t look much like me, I don’t think) posts all kinds of content that wouldn’t interest me. But it’s not a parody, and evidently a lot of people enjoy it. Including, probably, the kid who mentioned it to me on the street.
Once I got over how I had flashed back to childhood and made all the worst assumptions about how I was probably being insulted, I was most struck by the kid’s side of the interaction.
What would it be like to live in such a state of possibility that you assume you might just run into your favorite YouTuber, from anywhere in the world, on the streets of your neighborhood on a weekday afternoon? If that’s possible, anything is possible.
I wish I still lived in a state of possibility like that.
Here’s my favorite Green Renaissance film I saw this week: