What I Want

I want to be a part of the culture of ideas, the international idea stock exchange, the global human collaboration on sorting out life the universe and everything, the fraternity/sorority/whateverity of thinkers and philosophers and artists and social engineers and futurists, who are forever constructing a quilt of interlocking dialogues and discoveries and disagreements, who write plays that inspire one of them to research a scientific question that inspires one of them to enact a policy that inspires one of them to program a conceptual video game that inspires two of them to stage a debate that inspires three of them to start a charity that inspires nineteen of them to write a play.

I want to be a necessary fixture of the parties where the actors and the writers and the statespeople and the sculptors and the activists and the researchers gather to let off steam and do the real secret subtextual work of building up a bubbling stew of progress out of ten thousand little ideas and friendships.

I want go to one of these parties and say something insightful to Marina Abramović that leads her to make an offhand comment to Jon Stewart and John Cameron Mitchell in earshot of Lindsay Lohan, which she turns over in her mind and later uses to save herself from her downward drug spiral so that she puts in one last, lasting brilliant performance in the last, lasting brilliant Woody Allen movie, that people watch with love and awe for fifty years, occasionally remember with reverence for another fifty years, and then forget entirely.

I want to be a part of the worldwide secret but not-so-secret, accidental and unintentional network of people who sort of realize and sort of don’t realize they’re all on the same team, the team of trying to make the world a better place for the human race, who even though some of them are only focused on getting us to Mars and some of them on ending the death penalty and some of them on creating the ultimate zombie movie, are all working together on a half-realized SuperTeam against evil (the greedy, the powerhungry and the dangerous people of the world, not to mention the very entropy of the universe itself, not to mention the great devil called boredom – all evil).

I want to eat French cheese straight from the cheesery, but that’s incidental to this post.

I want to be included amongst the music-makers and dreamers of dreams that Arthur O’Shaugnessy talks about in my favorite poem.  (For those heretofore unfamiliar with the source, Wonka meant that “yes, snozzberries don’t exist, but because I’ve dreamed them up, they may very well exist soon, or exist already; it is only my job to dream things, silly Veruca, and the world will do the rest.”)

I want to be such a qualified commentator and observer and autodidact, keen and full of insight on human nature and hard sciences and the Jungian power of storytelling, that I am considered indispensable to any government-appointed panel on setting up colonies in outer space.  I want the people of the world to recognize me as a capable, thoughtful and trustworthy responder to current events.  I want to NEVER be Bono; I want to be Carl Sagan or Maya Angelou.  George Clooney is acceptable.

I want to, apparently, explode in irreconcilable contradiction, because I simultaneously want to be Robert Crumb and David Foster Wallace, and Sheila Callaghan and Annie Baker, and Hayao Miyazaki and M.I.A., and Ursula K. LeGuin and Banksy, all rolled into one, but still be humble and shy and small and aware of my own limitations and myself.

I don’t want to be an egotist, but I want my ideas to have such impact that it would take a miracle of self-restraint for me to not become an egotist.  And I want to be able to say it’s all just because I care too much.

I want to be friends with Lena Dunham and Severn Cullis-Suzuki.  And be lucky enough to be present when the next great worldwide music phenomenon movement is invented by some kid in Bangladesh while I’m on a worldtromping mission with Werner Herzog and Richard Branson and some friends I’ve known since high school.  I want to worldtromp.  I want my worldtromping to mean something to that world I’ve tromped more than just a list of checkmarks on my personal I’m-So-Interesting-I’ve-Had-These-Experiences List.  I want to be honest-to-goodness friends with Kristin Chenoweth and Janelle Monae and Neil deGrasse Tyson and Marisol Valles Garcia and go to their children’s weddings.  I don’t believe in the Great People Make History Theory Of History, but I want to be one of them and friends with them all the same.

I want to know all of the great people making history, not just these celebrities, but every single roboticist, and stage manager, and speechwriter, and visionary mayor, and shaman, and curio collector, and blogger that only has a dedicated following in one neighborhood in Lagos, but totally defines life for those particular Lagosians.  I want to be more than an American, in a world where it is finally possible for an American to connect to the latest literary movement in Argentina and the latest political moment in Indonesia and the latest social meme in Kyrgyzstan and not have it be some kind of appropriation or trend-seeking, but simple worldwide curiosity and connectedness.  And I want for my contributions to reach just as far and as meaningfully.

I want to read every book ever and include its influence in the things I write which influence others.

I want one million people over the course of my life to experience something I’ve written and because of it to make one little change to their lives that makes their lives just one little bit better or different, whether it be to apologize to someone, or to switch careers, or to adopt one quote of mine (possibly slightly misquoted) as their personal shorthand for one idea that they frequently refer to, and use it throughout their lives.

I am writing this because I saw Bachelorette by Lesley Headland, last week at Studio Theatre, and came out feeling envious (but not, this time, jealous), needy, hungry, excited, entertained, coaxed, stunned, ambitious, and knowing that every day I spend not being on a par with, in conversation directly or indirectly with, or participating in the world with Lesley Headland is a day of screaming in the dark.  I’m ready, I have contributions, I want to play.

I want the little tiny things I think on my little tiny blog (or out loud, or wherever) to not just be gnats flying around the food at the children’s table, but to be the food at the adults’ table.

I want my plans and schemes and writings to not be just some more shit, that’s mixed in with almost everyone else’s shit fertilizing the vast soil out of which sprouts just a few thousand real flowers and trees – but for my plans and schemes and writings to grow amongst the flowers and trees.

I want the part I’ve been assigned in this endeavor to get one – at least just the one – speaking line, and not to just be a speechless supernumerary.

I want to have had a part in the times I was living in.

Because if I’m going to spend my whole life thinking and thinking and thinking and worrying about the fate of the human race and the nature of the cosmos and the art of storytelling, I want all that EFFORT to have meant something, to continue to mean something ever after, because otherwise I might as well have spent my whole life thinking and worrying about model trains, and been a lot happier.



  1. […] I mentioned, I saw Bachelorette last week at Studio Theatre, and really responded to […]

  2. […] artist wants to be successful, presumably, whatever that means to them.  Most artists, presumably, would like to be able to practice their art full-time and […]

  3. […] Next!” 6) The Seven Deadly Sins of the Internet Age 7) There is Too Much Theatre in D.C. 8) What I Want 9) Why Is There No Entry-Level Artist Job? 10) The Blogger’s […]

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