By Matt Gordon
That’s it. I’m just sick of wrestling with all of it. The masks, the mandates, the sickness, the variants, sugar-free gelatins. Most of these have to do with the pandemic. The other one has to do with the sensation of getting a chilled cup of gelatin and taking a big spoonful only to be woefully letdown by the lack of flavor surge. It is like kissing a hologram or something. And it drives me mad. But not as mad as this dang pandemic and what it is doing to all of my plans. I mean, I’m just going to have do another wave of cancellations—a calendar booster shot if you will.
This is the new rhythm I’ve introduced into my life, and it is glorious. But I wasn’t always a picture of mental and spiritual health in these flighty times. No, I used to be an imbecile just like you. I, like you, used to plan a bunch of stuff I actually wanted to do. Trips to destinations I love, events I thought would better the world, activities that landed in my gift wheelhouse—like gelatin-eating contests and the like. And what happened? A lot of thought, effort, and then, finally, the inevitable cancellation and all the micro-grief that comes from the losing of something so desired. Plus all that effort down the proverbial drain. It was madness.
But rather than awaken to a truer, better path, I heaped on another portion of lunacy. I just stopped planning anything. I was a jellyfish afloat in a shifting world. Time and space became mere suggestions. And I didn’t like it. I prefer using hands and legs—swimming toward or away from something, anything. Not planning wasn’t any better than planning and losing loved things.
And then it came to me! A perfect wave of goodness, washing me on the shores of sensible living amid senseless times. This, friends, was the perfect opportunity—maybe my only opportunity—to plan a bunch of stuff I would never want to do because I know I can just cancel it! All the things I put off or things I’ve dreamed of sort of doing/becoming but didn’t actually want to do the follow-through. Now my failure to go back to school and make something of myself doesn’t have to do with my apathy or idiocy—nay, it is the pandemic’s fault! I am doing the responsible thing by withdrawing my application to law school. I did get all the paperwork printed off for medical school, but now just doesn’t seem like the time for that either. I can say safely, amid precarious societal conditions and the widespread panic caused by the Delta Variant, God bless her, that I will not be pursuing the testing nor training in any of the following fields either: wielding, real estate, culinary services, parks and recreation, government, education, transportation/pilot.
I have also decided that it would be selfish of me to adopt at this time. Anything. I went to the local animal shelter, paperwork in hand, but I left without going inside, fearful that I might carry disease into that sacred realm. I drove away with Sarah McLaughlin sadness in soul, but also feeling a bit heroic—look at me, cancelling my own dreams of owning a dog I never wanted for the health and safety of others. What I am doing, in many ways, is otherworldly.
Speaking of which, I am about finished with my open resignation letter to NASA. The early draft reads thusly:
My high school Math teacher had a poster on the wall that read ‘If you shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.’ When she was droning on about parabolas, I used to stare at that poster and think of the parabola of my own life. And I became certain that while I may be flunking high school Geometry, the angle of my life was beyond obtuse. I was not meant to be held acutely to the limitations of this earth or her oppressive gravity—no, I was made for outer space. My dreams floated toward a future and in that classroom all those years ago I knew: I was destined to become the greatest astronaut of all-time.
I watched the documentaries: Apollo 13 and Armageddon. I checked out Mark Kelly’s book about being in space. I didn’t read it because it was, like, really long and boring, but I kept it far beyond the library’s due date—you can check the records. It was like two years late. It got wedged under the passenger seat of my car and it took a pretty specific brand of car accident to dislodge it. But even that felt like a sign. I am Willis-meets-Hanks-meets-Kelly. I am Buzz Aldrin and Lightyear. I am infinity and beyond; this is no stretch, Armstrong.
But alas, these times. These cursed times. This plague! Oh, the tyranny of it all. And even though I know I have the right stuff to change the space game (maybe I could finally settle the score on the whole Pluto situation up there . . . seems like you all keep waffling on it), I feel it would be a small step for mankind to model putting others first. That’s right, despite my excessive talent and ahead-of-their-time good looks, it feels the more modest, kinder, and utterly heroic choice to cancel my plans to dominate space. This decision has everything to do with my fellow human and all of that and nothing to do with any fears associated with small spaces, heights, general ineptitude, or tubes serving as toilets.
This all feels like Sandra Bullock watching George Clooney float away in Gravity. I am George Clooney. And I am also Sandra Bullock. My dream floats away like GC, but on the inside, like Sandra there in the space craft, we all know I could easily fly laps around all things astronautics.
Matt Gordon, Retired Space Traveler
Boom. Liberated. That is a weight off. And it is just the beginning.
In recent weeks, I’ve mentally started and ended several would-be profitable companies before the demand of capital. The creditors didn’t even have time to cause anxiety before I paid them and the whole idea off with an altruistic literal bail out.
I’ve canceled backpacking trips I didn’t want to take to foreign lands I didn’t want to visit.
I’ve decided it is the wrong time financially to put the pool I don’t want in my backyard.
I’ve put learning to dance indefinitely on hold because it would be selfish of me to be found in da club. Plus, what would NASA think of my hypocrisy?
Like bowling—which I’ve decided not to launch a pro career in anymore—I’ve been setting pins meticulously up, and then letting the pandemic knock them down. The pins are toppled, but I feel my very soul is that which is truly spared.
I hope more and more people come to learn this life-giving technique in these trying times. In fact, I planned out a course on it, complete with a lecture tour and book release, but when I looked at all the work for such an endeavor, I thought it wiser and better to cancel altogether before anything got too real. Once again, I shelved myself for the greater good. If you are disappointed with my decision, I’d be happy to set up an early morning coffee with you to discuss. Make it very early, in fact. Somewhere public. Throw it on my calendar, and I’ll get along to cancel just as soon as I finish this gelatin.