My dad is a staunch believer of living in ‘the present.’ For those whose parents haven’t been seduced by Eckhart Tolle, the idea is simple: the past is over, the future hasn’t happened yet. So shut up and relax.

I have a theory about this.

It’s really impossible to shut off your brain. I wonder about monastic folk who chop the umbilical cord and head for serenity hill. Do they really achieve it? Is that the only real way to achieve it? I may be wrong, as I didn’t take a moment to research before referencing Tolle (to the knowing disdain of all of my Lit Crit professors), but I think he spent a few years unemployed, just hanging around on park benches and watching the world turn.

Great. When the government rolls out its mandatory meditative 2yr sabbatical, I’ll be the first on board.

Not often can you remember being stressed as a kid, right? We can of course attribute that to youth being a jobless, kidless, mortgageless carousel existence. But I think we get it wrong here: our heads were anything but quiet.

I had a running fantasy in which I could transform into any animal at any time. It was my most favorite character and eventually pervaded every part of my daydream realm. The fourth grade/sixth grade coed dance next week? I went as a panther. Dade county fair? I swept into the ferris wheel car as a falcon. My daydreamt friends didn’t know it was me at first. But when they found out, oh boy. I was the raddest kid around.

So what if instead of striving for quiet calm we aim for fantastic adventure? Next time I feel the doom cloud of responsibility start to darken I’m heading to shapeshifter town. Like, maybe on the way to tomorrow’s meeting I’ll see that glint in the cloud. And then maybe I’ll get sucked into a starbeam for a second, during which I’m granted a special ability. And then maybe I act like nothing’s happened and attend that meeting as, say, a talking lynx. Everybody is scared and then in awe and then I’m revered as a patient and kind demigod. Or you know, whatever.

Take a shot, let me know how you feel. But don’t tell ANYONE ELSE you’re doing it. I don’t imagine you’ll be well received.

A few quick notes: I missed a birthday party yesterday because I FORGOT. Isn’t that the worst reason to miss something? The boy’s mother was my kid’s teacher and a dear and wonderful woman. I’ve been to dozens of birthday parties I’ll never remember, but of course I miss this one. I feel like the ultimate dope and the worst mommy friend. So a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Caio (cool, right?). I’m so sorry we didn’t make it.