Do you ever think life is like a treasure hunt? Kind of like a cosmic bingo game and as we gain experiences, the squares on our board fill up until we yell, “Bingo!” For instance, in my life, I have sung karaoke a handful of times — not well mind you, but every time I belted out “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey, I checked off another square on the experience game board of life. Singing along to the ‘80s, wading through the weeds to catch a whiff of rose, rescuing bugs from an empty existence in the barren wasteland of the bathtub, these are the things that count, day after day.

“Any idiot can face a crisis. It’s the day-to-day living that wears you out.” -Anton Chekhov

It feels like humans are always facing a crisis. Every generation lives through plague or famine or war, and yet we’re never able to change the plot. Sure, we like to think we’re making progress, that life will be easier for the next generation because of our daily struggle, but then something — or someone — comes along to launch a grenade, hoard grain or gold, infect the planet, and we’re right back in triage.

The next major catastrophe will probably involve water, or rather lack thereof. I used to think that only the very rich would eat cheeseburgers in the future because beef production is an expensive process that requires hard work, great parcels of open land and fresh water. I imagined the rest of us eating crickets for protein as the price of hamburger climbed to unattainable rates, but now I think the real delicacy will be salad. The majority of water in the Colorado River is used for farm and field, and as water levels plunge, we’ll see the price of lettuce soar, not to mention real suckers like cucumber and avocado…

Opposite the cliché of the fat king sitting on his throne eating a huge drumstick, surrounded by cakes and sweetbreads, today’s uber wealthy seem to be satiated with medium-rare portobello on a bed of arugula and seltzer water flavored with natural essence of citrus. And here in Carbondale, if we continue to build unaffordable housing and restaurant/retail space at our current pace, we will certainly lose the folks who ranch, cook and serve our cheeseburgers, as they’ll leave town to seek their fortune elsewhere. 

When I was young, there was one fancy restaurant in Carbondale, the Ship of Fools. Back then, eating out meant a celebration of some kind, a birthday or an anniversary. Granted, that was a long time ago, “back when the road was dirt,” as Jane Hendricks would say.

Sometimes I feel like Earth is just a galactic ship of fools hurtling through space, every captain of industry more concerned with the amount of booty he has accumulated than the journey’s path or the condition of the crew. Instead of looking for ways to improve the ship, or fostering kindness and acceptance, we are pitted against each other through greed and envy as we row for 40 hours a week (or more) just to keep the whole thing afloat.

Honestly, I wonder if the best thing for our planet right now wouldn’t be a massive solar flare; kind of a world-wide ctrl+alt+delete. Sure, it would mean utter chaos at first, but then oh, so quiet. As people relearn how to catch a fish or grow a potato, the planet would thrive without all the machines that we created to make our lives easier. Not to mention all the plastic and artificial spray we buy in an effort to bring the essence of the outdoors into our living room (instead of just going outside).

Basically, we all want the same things out of life: a sense of accomplishment, health and happiness for ourselves, our friends, our family and a little reward, e.g., a cheeseburger at the end of the day. While drastic, a solar flare would wipe out power plants, bitcoin banks and suburban irrigation, allowing the planet’s water to flow freely and eliminating the monetization of this essential fluid. Then the emperors of the world would have to put down their new suits and join the rest of us in our treasure hunt for life’s necessities.

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