happy new year!

this is what happens when they let people take computers on airplanes:

I’ve been thinking about life a lot lately. Things like that happen when your girlfriend breaks up with you. And you’ve just spent 16 days with your parents. And three days from now you get the results of your CAT scan and stress test.

I’m on an airplane. I think we’re flying over Kentucky or thereabouts right now. I always get sentimental and nostalgic on planes. I look out the window at night and see clusters of lights and think about the families that live in those lights. They live in some little town in the Midwest that I’ve never heard of, in a few seconds, I pass over it. But to them, that’s their whole world. One that I will never know, though I must admit I am curious. I think that there is so much love in this world. A light in the dark. A family in their home. People who love each other.

But also people who drive each other crazy. People who throw tantrums and say things like “I hate you mom”. These are the people who cut you off in traffic, they have different political views than you, they yell at waitresses for no reason. This may be hard to hear, but some of the people who died in the World Trade Center were jerks. They cheated on their husbands and wives and they beat their kids. It’s the law of averages. Not everyone is a saint like me.

I guess what I’m getting at is that even that jackass who totally just cut you in line at Pirates of the Caribbean and is now pretending that he didn’t is someone dad’s or someone’s son. He’s got to be somebody’s best friend. Maybe he saved some orphans from a burning building, you just never know.

Yes, I just went to Disney World. They have a ride there, actually it’s a 3D movie, called “Mickey’s Philharmagic” There are different characters and scenes from Disney movies projected on a giant screen with music. It’s really amazing and I almost started crying at several parts. A lot of the vignettes were about flying. As I walked out, I comforted myself with the realization that I too can fly. Because inside of each and every one of us is the heart of a child where there is the power—just kidding. But seriously, I can. In a world of constant motion where things like acceleration and velocity are just terms to place ourselves in relative space, flight is reduced to a mere sensation. Flying, to me, is being really, really good at something you really, really love to do. When I step onto a stage and I bring words I wrote to life and people are laughing, I am flying. When I step onto a stage with nothing and me and a few other people create something out of thin air and make people laugh, I am flying.

But what I really want is to be a rock star. I can make people laugh, it’s easy. I’m very cocky about that. I get impatient with those who can’t, because for me, it’s simple. When I see them struggle, sometimes my reaction is “oh, really now.” Like Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting when the Swedish guy second-guesses his work and so he lights it on fire out of sheer contempt. But I’m a mediocre guitar player and only my mom thinks I can sing. Which rules out my rock star dreams.

I can make people laugh, but what I really want to do is make them cry. I want them to feel like I do right now, sitting on an airplane listening to my iPod thinking about the fact that I’m 29 and poor and my girlfriend just broke up with me and my parents live 3000 miles away and I only see them once a year and for all I know, I could be having open heart surgery next week.

But then again, I’m not sure it’s fair to say that you can’t move people by making them laugh. Maybe it’s not in the same way and it’s not all the time, but I think I’ve seen it happen. I don’t think that satire really changes the world the way some satirists like to tell people it does. People don’t watch Saturday Night Live and say “You know what, George Bush really is an idiot, I’m voting Democrat!” More than likely, they already thought that to begin with and have now just had their opinions validated. Or if they disagree, they just write it off. It’s easy to write comedy off. I think the approach that political satire takes is too direct; too, ‘on the money’, to actually work. I think the way you change people, if at all, is in a much smaller, subtler way.

There’s a sketch they do on SNL called “Debbie Downer”, with Rachel Dratch playing the title character. It’s a goofy concept with no high-minded satirical notions, but it’s funny. Every time I’ve seen it, every single person in the cast performing it has broken at least once. That kind of laughter comes out of a space of pure joy. I’ve seen it. Those people on that stage are happy to be where they are. They are thinking of nothing else at that moment. And it spreads. I watched that sketch when I was thinking I could never be happy and I found myself smiling. That’s something, right? It can’t be nothing. At least, I hope not. Fuck it, at this point, I’ll take it.


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