While walking the dogs around the neighborhood last week, I thought about deoxyribonucleic acid. It wasn't the type of thing I normally think about while watching my dogs relieve themselves, but I'd just ordered James D. Watson's, The Double Helix, a personal account of how DNA and its structure were discovered -- the messy human version. Science isn't so neat and distinguished at the onset. Sometimes it's ugly with turf wars, papers to endlessly edit, credit to give and fight over, and the decision has to be made: What do we call this highfalutin thing we've just discovered?
DNA is complicated enough, and the length and difficulty of the word makes it even more so, more intimidating and apart from the everyday. But we carry our DNA around wherever we go, pass it on to our children, leave bits of it all over the place. Why does it have to be such a long difficult word? Why make something so everyday so far away and inaccessible?
What if we simplified the complicated? What if we renamed DNA, 'The Twisted Ladder'?
What I'm getting at is, what if we had fewer parts, more wholes? What if things could be reduced not to their smallest parts, but to their poetry, deeper meaning, their art?
Maybe I'm dreaming. Life may be too complicated to simplify.
When does life get simple again? Like when we were eight and mornings meant throwing on a t-shirt and shorts, grabbing a snack and riding our bicycles all day?
PB&J has been replaced with DN&A. Life is a tall, tall place, too high to reach, too far to climb. We'll never get to the top, and maybe we don't want to go there, but how far is high enough? How much do we need to know? How much do we really need?
Last night I stayed home. Very few people in my circle of friends and family went out to celebrate New Years' Eve. We all have small children and care less about partying. We were content to stay in comfortable clothes, light fires, snuggle with our partners, kids, pets, and watch old Simpson's episodes.
Others dressed up, attended wild parties, drank too much, screamed until their throats were raw. They drove in the cold to get where they were going. They left home to find something else -- fun and adventure, a 'higher' plane. What they were seeking was somewhere else, a place they had to dress up for, a thing they altered their senses to achieve, a realm beyond their comfort zones.
Did they get there? Did the parties take them where they wanted to go? Was it worth it? Were there longterm gains? Is a party moving toward or away from something? Are we celebrating life, or trying to forget life?
I think those of us who were hibernating last night feel that all the partying back in the day was just a prelude to the real party, the true prize in living. We've got our prize now, the security and love of family, a short distance that feels like forever. There's nothing "out there" we need. We don't have anything to run from or to, nothing we need to forget. What's worth remembering is right here, at home. All this, and no hangover.
Why go long when we can just chill? Why go to Times Square when there's buttery popcorn, a warm fire and a thick alpaca blanket at home? Why leave home when, Baby, it's cold outside?
Maybe some are still trying to find home.
Popular Alcoholics Anonymous sayings are teaching the same message: Easy Does It and One Day At A Time. Keep It Simple Stupid. We've all been addicts of one stripe or another, always running, leaving one place for the next, looking for that special elusive 'other'.
There's a place for the complicated, the kind that can simplify our lives. I love my iPhone, my Mac and Kindle Paper White. I'm all for being plugged in when I want to be. But at the end of the day, I don't want to be. I just want simple, to snuggle, be warm, feel safe. Let the Watsons of the world play with the double helixes, fight over who gets credit and what names to give all the pieces. But at the end of the day, even they want to go home. We're built for wholes. And what's the highest whole? What do we call this hifalutin thing we're all hoping to find?
This year I hope you find it, your whole, your simple, your home.