How does one get back, I always wonder when on an in-bound flight to LA-LA. How does one summon herself again — for the grind, for the hustle, for the race; for the conviction? For the insanity of the dream?
Because most of us haven’t chosen to live here. No! To live here — we must.
Because this is where the grind happens, and the hustle, and the race. This is where one comes to make a name, slowly chiseling it out of some seemingly immovable matter. This is where one comes to knock on doors, endlessly, as if deaf or immune to rejection. And only after enough doors have been opened, does the labyrinth of all the unpredictable passages and dark thresholds left behind begin to make sense. And even if it doesn’t make sense, somehow one must find herself satisfied with the journey itself.
Aha: The journey.
I hear others, many, many steps ahead of me, testify to the worth of “the journey” in their interviews as very accomplished people.
“Easy for you to say!”
No. No, I never think that. By choice, I am not bitter, or skeptical. Stubbornly, I hone-in my own insecurity, so that others’ testimonies of this kind don’t set it off. And instead: I end taking their word for it, not because of my blind fandom for these very accomplished people; but because I myself have found the one journey I don’t mind committing despite the grind, or the hustle, or the race.
Oh, sure: There are days when the dream stalls a little. It sits there, rooted in nothing but my imagination. And sometimes, I am appalled at how others don’t see it my way.
“It’s over there,” I tell them, as if pointing out a thunderstorm cloud accumulating on the other side of the mountain. “Right over there — right above it all and ever so close! Don’t you see?!”
Their faces tell me everything about their own “journey”. Some get spaced out in self-defense: They’ve seen too many madwomen in this town by now to be shocked or threatened by my insanity. They aren’t even amused by it, as a matter of fact. They just want some safe distance in between. Others — the ones with ephemeral dreams of their own — try to empathize. But they can’t! They really can’t, for they’ve got too much of their own shit to do — and they just don’t have any time for mine.
“We should coffee sometime,” they tell me, instead. “Talk about it more.”
And then, there are those that have promised to love me forever. To them, my insanity is no surprise: They worship it, instead, by association. They are my comrades, equally insane and more fearless. And we have been feeding off of each other’s craziness for a long, long time. Because that’s how we get by: We compare each other’s grind, and the hustle, and the race. And somehow, because we are all insane enough to dream, it all stops seeming so unbearable.
But: How does one get back, for the in-bound flight to LA-LA?
I started itching yesterday afternoon, in the waiting lounge of the San Francisco International Airport. My fellow passengers seemed either exhausted or dreamy. Others were loud, habitually hollering at their children and spouses; yelling through their mobile devices, most likely at someone back in LA-LA and already in the midst of their grind.
A businessman in sneakers and a short-sleeved floral shirt was negotiating a sale that, according to him, all of us had to witness, while he typed furiously on his hefty looking Dell laptop. A traveling couple of colleagues at a Samsung charging station were hollering back and forth about some training workshop that had to get done before their landing; and the tiny, beat-up Indian man caught in the crossfire of their hollers, seemed utterly defeated at the discovery of his irrelevance.
“These ones don’t need to get back,” I thought, “because they never left: the grind, the hustle or the race.”
Suspended right above my own despair and denial, I continued to look around the lounge. The young, investment banker type to my immediate left met my gaze with a pressed-lipped smile: He seemed slightly surprised at his own reluctance to get back. The sleepy hippies in laid-back but stylish clothing rested all over the floor while listening to music, jotting down their dreams or looking up at the last views of The City. They seemed in the midst of plotting their return already. (Or maybe they were just spacing out. And maybe, it was all — in my own mind.)
But: How does one get back, after the in-bound flight to LA-LA?
I tell you how: You summon yourself.
At first, you summon yourself in order to bear. You summon your courage and your conviction, your memories of the dream that’s worth the grind, and the hustle, and the race — the dream that has brought you here, in the first place.
Sometimes, in the most remote corners of your heart’s ventricles, you must look for all the reasons to carry on. And you glue them together — sew the damn fucking thing, if you must! — and you suspend yourself, right above your despair and denial, and you carry on.
Step two: Summon your gratitude. Even though most of us haven’t chosen to live here, to live here — we must. But that living happens much easier — and with better dividends, in the end — if it’s committed with some grace.
And after all, She ain’t so bad: This forsaken city of LA-LA, exhausted by all the grind, and the hustle, and the race for which She continuously — and quite graciously, the good girl that She is! — makes room. Patiently, She waits for so many of us to get back, to land. And then, She must wait for us to get over all of our other cities and loves. She does. Like a good girl — She does! And She keeps taking us back, graciously.
And if you look at her with enough undivided attention, She is even quite pretty. So, I did that, yesterday: As soon as I landed, in the midst of all that room that She has graciously made for me — and for my dream that’s worth the grind — and I drove myself out to Her shore. Quietly suspended above my own denial, I frolicked in Her sand, and in Her waves, and in Her glorious sun; and before I knew it:
I have gotten back and I have landed.
And now: Back to the grind.