The Minefield As a Metaphor for Life
November 7, 2008
Take one wrong step. Boom.
They’re buried in the ground,
your mistakes, you can’t see them
until it’s too late. You can prepare
all you want, you can study the ground,
minutely inspect each patch for strange
bulges and misplaced sprigs of grass.
The effort of living this way is insane.
You can’t walk at all; I see this
as a paradigm, a social mode,
so much fear.
Prevent heart attacks.
Don’t eat trans fats.
Watch out for prostate cancer.
Wring your breasts once a month
ferreting out tiny extrusions.
Run to the doctor,
run run run!
He’ll prescribe something
to save your life.
He can’t save the joy of it,
he can’t free your heart of the paralysis
you inherited from your TV set.
Watch how you step. On this very spot
a boy lost his leg. He was just playing,
he didn’t realize how vulnerable
vulnerable, we all are.
Watch out for those hot dog nitrates!
They can explode your pancreas.
The ice cream is loaded with Chinese poison.
Jesus, how does anyone take a single step
with all this crap hanging over our heads?
How long do you want to live?
How much will you spend to ensure
that you live to a miserable tottering hundred,
taking thirty eight pills a day?
It will always be a minefield, life.
Always has been, always will be.
Our obsession with minimizing risk
has made us into timid consumers
of saw palmetto and echinacea.
I say this: March cheerfully to your doom!
March and laugh, march and laugh,
nothing will prevent you from avoiding it,
nothing will save you or improve the odds.
You’re wasting time! You’re wasting your life
considering each step through the field.
Accept it. Any step could be your last.
Any choice could be wrong. How long will you
inspect the ground in front of you,
before you move? How many opportunities
for love will you miss, as you protect your
fragile body from the hurtling projectiles?
March march! Be of good cheer! Bring up a laugh,
for god’s sake, life is a minefield, life is a bombing
range, life is an artillery target
into which you have stumbled.
The soldiers don’t know you’re here.
They’re loading the guns. Fire, fire!