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Quiet Desperation

What could possibly be wrong about wanting a perfect world?


My therapist asked me to describe my perfect world.

“No one goes hungry, for one thing,” I said.

“Very admirable.”

“Affordable health care options for everyone.”

“Very admirable.”

“No one wears a baseball cap backwards except a baseball player.”


“Seriously. And no one uses the word `sustainable’ for at least a year. Maybe longer.”

Hypothetical questions are fun to think about and that’s it.

“What would you do with a million dollars?”

“If you only had 24 hours to live, what would you do?”

“If you could only take 10 albums to a deserted island, would Hootie’s be one of them?”

The world is far from perfect.

“It’s a work in progress,” someone said.

It doesn’t look like it’s going to be finished by the time I take the last train to Clarksville.

Some things are best left unfinished.

Franz Schubert’s beautiful “Symphony No. 8” is known as the “Unfinished Symphony.”

Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan” was never finished because he was interrupted when he was writing it by “a person from Porlock,” and when the person finally left, Coleridge forgot where the poem was headed.

(It was composed after he experienced an opium-influenced dream.)

Artist Gilbert Stuart’s most famous painting is an unfinished portrait of George Washington that was on every classroom wall in my high school.

I asked my father, “Why would anyone buy unfinished furniture?”

“Son, it means unstained or unpainted.”

“Why isn’t it called unstained or unpainted furniture?”

It’s going to be a while before the Crazy Horse Memorial is finished.

Many authors, like Ernest Hemingway, have left stories and novels unfinished, only to have someone publish them posthumously — ostensibly to add further dimension to the author’s life, or to make money off of it. Take your pick.

The first four chapters of Raymond Chandler’s final, unfinished novel (“The Poodle Springs Story”) were turned into “Poodle Springs” by Robert B. Parker 30 years after Chandler’s death.

I read it once and I won’t read it again.

Picking up where someone left off sometimes works out and sometimes it doesn’t.

“Poodle Springs” didn’t work out.

The film version of “Gone With the Wind” did.

George Cukor directed it for three weeks, and then Victor Fleming took over. Fleming won the Academy Award for Best Director for “Gone With the Wind.”

My perfect world wouldn’t be anyone else’s. Fewer guns. Far fewer guns. Use of the word “snickerdoodle” would be a felony.

Thomas More coined the word “Utopia” in 1516 about a fictional island society. How many times have you heard someone say an island would be the perfect way to get away from it all?

Hurricane Irma was not a friend to that thought, was she? For the first time in 300 years, no one is living on Barbuda. I didn’t even know it existed.

The population is — or was — less than 1,700.

Robert De Niro wants to rebuild it.

He said, “It’s just a beautiful place, and it’s quiet, and the people are nice.”

That sounds perfect to me: beautiful, quiet, and nice people. And I wouldn’t mind being the Invisible Man now and then either, for a number of reasons.

“Doctor, there’s a man here who thinks he is invisible.”

“Well, tell him I can’t see him right now.”

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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