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by Mark Peres

July 6,2007

My wife asks what’s on my agenda. I tell her I’ve scheduled an existential moment.  I’m learning (immersing myself in books on the Mayflower, digital connectivity and Vedic mythology), serving (participating in creative community ideation initiatives and a council on aging), building (a non profit organization and a for-profit company), teaching (leadership to university age students) and creating (poetry, media presentations and self-published books), but doubt is creeping in. I’m in phase displacement. Staring at the wall, I start bringing the lash against my back.

I‘m not making a difference. I’m insignificant. I’m getting older (who is that graying, weathered person in the mirror? I used to be good looking, goddamit). I should be living somewhere else. How did I end up in here? Does Charlotte even matter? It’s confused about light rail! And I have a craving for a steak.

Enough, my wife says. Go to a movie. So I escape to the matinee. I go see La Vie En Rose, by myself at The Manor, which later raises a few eyebrows among my beer-swilling friends. Somehow watching a biopic of a mid-century tortured French torch-singer who died from cancer at the age of 47 makes me feel much better.

I come home to an empty house (my wife, daughter and cat are off traipsing about) and decide to jam to an Edith Piaf C.D. while zipping through The Young & The Restless (Nicholas has lost his memory – Sharon is just crazy to stay with Jack). I flip through a new comic book financed by Richard Branson and presented by Deepak Chopra about Ganesha the Elephant God (is that cool or what? God bless capitalism). Edith is really jaunty singing Padam Padam. I am pumped.

Batteries charged, I head upstairs to the loft and fire up the laptop (kind of like taking the old Mustang for a spin) and the emails come flinging in. I wish I could just talk out loud and have the computer respond for me (yes, no, Tuesday at Starbucks, sounds good, that’s pretty funny), but instead I hunt and peck and of course the network goes down. Uggg.

Just then a friend who had recently quit her job calls me. I figure she must be doing great, and she is. She tells me about a book she just finished reading called The 4-Hour Work Week.  Sounds interesting, already. In the book you learn how to “dreamline,” outsource administrative work to virtual assistants, create automated cash flow and go on mini-retirement vacations. I’m sold. I buy the book that night (after my wife insists that I call the bookstore to make sure they have it before I drive half way across town – and of course she’s right as I have to call 3 stores to find it in stock) and read it in 10 minute bites over two days and love it – if nothing else for the brilliant way it turns 1000 years of conventional thinking on its head.

Meanwhile, I’m meeting and lunching and emailing, in my groove, energy high, not really liking how I fit in my 10-year old suit but not really caring either as I’m back in the game, when I see reference in the New York Times about a new book called The Political Brain, in which psychologist Drew Weston argues that voters, all voters, are primarily irrational, and they attach to an issue on an emotional level, and the more you try to persuade them rationally, the more they dig in their heals emotionally, and suddenly the light rail issue in Charlotte makes sense as it’s clear that those who felt burned on the arena issue are delivering payback on light rail – holding their breath and turning blue – logic be damned.

My wife asks if I’m out of my funk. I say yes, saying, all things considered, we’re living in a great city and it’s good to contribute, and can we see Ratatouille – that it’s about an artist being true to himself and the pursuit of excellence – and she says, it’s about a rat. When I tell her that animated rats are people too, she says I’ve had my moment. Self-correcting mood modulation is over….time to buck up.

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