Je m'en fiche

I am far from being a man at complete peace, but so many things that used to matter simply don't anymore.

There was a time when, if someone tapped me on the shoulder, I would instantly whirl around wondering (if not demanding), "What?" Sometimes I would get a phone call, and, not recognizing the voice, I would let the talker chat until I could figure out who he or she was. I reasoned that it would embarrass the caller should he or she realize that I didn't immediately recognize his or her voice.

I don't remember exactly when things changed. Now when I feel a tap on my shoulder, I make a conscious choice to turn around. In those brief seconds, I calmly and rationally think things through. Who could this be? What do they want? Do I even have time for this? Perhaps I'm practicing "slicing" (SEE: Blink by Malcolm Gladwell). Nor do I have the patience for callers who do not identify themselves; if I don't recognize the voice, I firmly—but politely—ask, "Who is this?" Sometimes I add, "please," but not always.

I am far from being a man at complete peace, but so many things that used to matter simply don't anymore. Those closest to me know how much I love music. Many have been the jibes about my CD collection, and none of that is lost on me. For years I obsessively collected a number of artists, and, regardless of whether or not their latest releases were any good, I felt that I simply had to buy them. For two years, I consulted Billboard charts weekly and made sure that I bought every 1 CD. Now, in fact, if I decided to listen to one different CD from my collection every day, it would take over eight years to run through them all (and that isn't even counting hundreds of CD singles and burned copies of albums people have given me over the years). But don't judge me too harshly. It beats drugs, I suppose; at least I have something tangible to show for my investment, however capricious. Regardless, you can count on one hand how many CDs I've bought in the last six months.

Though the current economy here in America has forced me to cut back on things, it hasn't been the main reason that I haven't taken a proper vacation in a year. It also isn't the reason I'm reading books I've stockpiled rather than make a beeline to Barnes & Noble every Sunday afternoon after consulting the New York Times Book Review.

Could it be that I just don't care any more? After years of "attempt[ing] to instill a bunch of bobby-soxers and drug-store Romeos with reverence for Hawthorne and Whitman and Poe" [and Emerson and Thoreau] (Thank you, Tennessee Williams and Blanche DuBois!), am I finally practicing what I've preached? "Simplify, simplify, simplify!" Thoreau insisted. I seem to be moving in that direction.

I hope I continue to do so.


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