My Mind Is A Nursing Home Full Of Sleeping People

I’ve always been a fan of New Year’s Eve. I’d like to say it’s because of the unicorn-and-rainbow optimism, but really it’s because of the clean slate. New Year’s Eve gives everyone license to put the mistakes of the previous year behind them—even the vodka-fueled mistakes made just minutes before midnight—and be different, be better.

On New Year’s Day, I found myself watching a Twilight Zone episode. In it, an old man named Charlie wakes his nursing home friends and tries to convince them of his theory that playing Kick the Can will recapture their childhood.

“Us? Children’s games?” one indignant woman says.

“You can’t be serious!” her friend exclaims.

“Yes, that’s the secret, don’t you see?” Charlie’s eyes are so bright. “The secret of
youth. . . Wake up! This is your last chance. I can’t play Kick the Can alone.”

Watching the show, I realized a character like Charlie visits the nursing home of my mind every new year— shaking awake the grumpy, jaded, and stubborn old people who have let the bad stuff bring them down. Just like Twilight Zone Charlie, my Charlie tries motivating them to break routine with aphorisms like:

Maybe the fountain of youth isn’t a fountain at all. Maybe it’s a state of mind.

and

I know the  world is full of magic. I just know it is.

But it’s too late usually. The old folks in my mind are too set in their ways to change. So, I was thinking maybe I’d let Charlie rattle them a few times during the year instead of just at the beginning. Wake them up. Give them some opportunities to gain some happy memories to counterbalance the bad.  They aren’t going to experience anything staying in bed.

I’ve entered three messages every three months this year in my cell phone calendar that will ping me. When it does, it will say “Charlie says Wake Up! Kick the Can! Happy New Month!” Totally Polyanna shit, but I’m betting I’ll need to hear it.

 

Author Stephen King learns about his relatives’ progressive past

 

Finding Your Roots returns this Tuesday night on PBS. I prefer this show over Who Do You Think You Are? Henry Gates, Jr. is a fantastic host: witty, friendly, caring. He makes a point in his research to uncover common themes between two or three different people’s family trees. For instance, Tuesday’s show is called “In Search of Our Fathers,” and focuses on three celebrities (I posted the incredibly moving Gloria Reuben preview on my Facebook page) whose childhoods all lacked fathers. With three different people to cover, FYR doesn’t resort to the filler moments WDYTYA bookends each commercial break with. Henry Gates, as you can tell from the video, checks in with his guests while he tells them their family’s story creating genuine moments between them. Sometimes I feel like WDYTYA tries to force emotional reactions on camera.

Anyway, I’ll be watching. If you catch the episode, leave me a comment. We’ll talk.