Secret Pop

Sep 17, 2003

Over Getting Over

I'm watching The West Wing on Bravo. I do from time to time. And lately, with my renewed vigor for democracy and fairness and crusading against bad policy, I catch myself envying characters who get to serve in the White House. I imagine it's something magical to be part of a presidential administration. But I also imagine that it must be hard to get used to the idea that it will one day be all over. To give yourself over to that cause for four years and know that it's going to end -- some people get really emotional when high school ends, too, you know. I wasn't one of them. But I saw it with my own eyes.

I was talking to my friend Lia about this recently. I told her how discouraged I was when I took note of the fact that I used to be unstoppable. Tireless. I used to work and try and perform and rehearse, and there never seemed to be enough time for rest or paying bills or seeing movies. I was always GOING. And it never really drained me. Or exhausted my resources. Or made me wish I could just have a quiet evening at home. I was sometimes sitting in an orchestra pit until midnight six nights a week. And I never thought about ditching for a night or just napping or getting pizza. It was similar when I was in school. No amount of extracurricular commitment or exam stress or friend fun could have kept me from wanting to keep at it. I used to go to school when I was so sick I could barely sit up, but I didn't want to be kept from a debate tournament or a yearbook deadline or whatever it was.

But I'm not unstoppable anymore. That bottomless reservoir of motivation and life force has been tapped dry. Now, as much as I get angry about government and politicians, I think to myself, "I could never do that." I don't have the energy. I imagine you have to just go twenty-four hours a day when you're part of a campaign. You have to get up early and stay out until it's early again. You have to smile and think and be present in the moment. You can't slack off just because you're feeling a little down. You can't stay home and feel reclusive and uninspired. There's no time for it. I don't think I have enough energy anymore to make a difference.

Of course, I also sneer at the record of our current president, who gets high marks for giving himself time off and taking vacations like they were going out of style (which they are, incidentally, for everyone else). But he seems like an anomaly to me. I think most people working for a presidential administration work really hard. Hard enough to put me to shame.

For the record, I would have voted for Bill Clinton again and again and again. But that's neither here nor there.

Anyway, I feel a bit sad thinking about the finiteness of things. Maybe I spend too much time anticipating the ending and too little time experiencing the part before. Maybe that's what's wrong with me. I get sad when I think about how it will feel when I have to look back on a part of my life and see that that part is over and that I can never have it back. I am putty in the hands of nostalgia. And I lament the amount of regret I feel. Because a girl shouldn't always have to feel so sorry. A girl shouldn't always have to look back and think that it was all such a waste of time. I am guilty of too often betting on the wrong horse. And maybe this is because I pick my horses with very little science. "Cool name," I think. Or, "I've heard of the horse who sired him." I bank on things for no better reason than because I don't know enough about them to know better. And it's my näiveté that keeps causing me such pain and consternation. You'd think by now I'd have been covered by a great suit of jade. It's a wonder.

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