Shallow Dance

by Matty Sullivan

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Like a Regular Human

Elephants can’t jump. I’ve heard they’re the only mammals who can’t. Good thing, too. Can you imagine? Jumping elephants!

Sharks can’t fly. Thank God. We’d be fucked.

Sometimes I can fly, but only when I’m dreaming. Actually, it’s more of a directional floating. Instead of zooming along horizontally with my arms out like Superman, I’m in the same position as when I’m walking. There I’ll be just walking along, when I suddenly find myself rising up from the ground and soaring into the sky, able to move in whichever direction I please. No physical effort is needed—just the decision to fly—and off I go. I have to watch out for power lines and the tops of trees, although they never seem to slow me down even when I collide with them. At some point, I become excited about flying and start trying to make it happen through pure concentration. That’s when I inevitably sink back to Earth and I soon find myself walking again, like a regular human.

I think I’m supposed to learn something from this, but I haven’t. I seem to prefer banging my head against walls and cursing the unfairness of consequence. These are the things in my grasp and they are usually enough to satisfy me. But all I have to show for it are headaches and resentment. I have talent and I have convinced myself that this is enough to get me by. But it’s not. Millions of people have talent but very few of them are willing to work and work and work, constantly refining their talent into a mastery of craft and execution.

How long does that take? Maybe if I knew the answer to that question, I would be more motivated. Otherwise, it’s like paying an electricity bill when the electric company won’t tell you exactly how much you owe. “Just give us five bucks a day, every day, and we’ll let you know when it’s enough.” I continue learning and improving but progress seems to come so fucking slowly. I hear myself saying shit like, “I wish I had started when I was younger.” Or, “I wish I knew then what I know now.”

With these thoughts and realizations, despair is lurking around every corner. And against despair there are only two defenses. One is to keep working, to never give up. The other is to remember that the edge of the Universe is over 78 billion light years away in every direction, and my hopes of success and fears of failure are pretty much meaningless. From the perspective of the gargantuan cosmos, I am equal in all respects to Mahatma Gandhi, Michael Jordan, and Jeffrey Dahmer.

Good morning.