i’ve been turning this phrase over in my head for a couple of days. i’ve been thinking more about the devil i don’t know, to tell you the truth.
fantasizing about him.
i’m tired of playing it safe with the devil i know.
i’m tired of staying overweight. i’m tired of having boundaries that are about as effective as a 20-year old rubber band. i’m tired of being the one who is always a good listener, even when my heart isn’t in it. i’m tired. i’m beginning to feel the shortness of life… the wasting of days, weeks, years.
the devil i know is multifaceted and complex and moody.
he involves filing cabinets and microsoft outlook and putting things in numerical order and pressing green buttons. he drives a stick shift as a matter of pride. he hasn’t created anything in years because he’s waiting for the time to be right. he can be hopeless, lazy, and sad. he eats too much. he likes to sneak cigarettes. he won’t make time for me to do the important things. cook. clean. care for me the way i deserve to be cared for. he’s good at procrastinating. someday, he whispers, it will just work out. just hang on. just keep nibbling at mediocrity and eventually you will get to the syrupy center of success.
he lies. he cheats. he hides.
let’s face it. my frontal lobe has been fully formed for seven years now, nearly eight. i know the difference between things that are bad and things that are good. right and wrong. day and night.
dead and alive.
today, at work, i unwrapped one of those little dove promise candies, and here is what the wrapper said:
what would you attempt to do if you knew you would not fail?
wow. if i knew. if i was guaranteed success. i need another twenty lifetimes to do all of those things.
i would create. i would finally exhale all of the creative wishes i have been holding in my chest since i was small and i learned that art wasn’t a useful path to pursue. that poetry wasn’t practical. that fiction was an indulgence.
i would get back to sketching fashion ideas. i would get a pottery wheel. i would become a reporter for rolling stone, if for no other reason than the person who did the clapton and beck article used the wrong form of discreet.
i would write a movie, a musical, and a room full of songs. i would play the guitar and the violin and the mandolin, and even the steel drum. and the piano.
i would open a bakery. i would serve the world’s best sandwiches and the most beautiful croissants and the most adorable cupcakes and i would brew inspiring coffee.
i would start a small independent record label and handpick the artists i love. i would put out records, just for fun.
i would build a house from scratch. i would learn carpentry, masonry, whatever “-ry” i need to learn to make it happen. i would design and decorate the entire place myself. i would learn how to landscape and garden, and then i would build that, too. i would build furniture. sew drapes and sheets and bedspreads.
mostly, i would wake up. i would own my life instead of letting it own me. i would stop getting blood blisters from overzealous filing cabinets. i would stop waking up with back pain. i would stop lamenting my declining skin, hair, face.
i would walk up to the devil i don’t know and kiss him full on the mouth. and i would never look back.