September 24, 2009: Today I have 14 problems.
March 4, 1986: I had 14 problems.
June 18, 1997: I also had 14 problems.
Perhaps you see a pattern here?
'Cause here's what I'm thinking: All of us have 14 problems. At any given time: 14. Perhaps I've got the number wrong. Maybe it's 5 or 37 problems. But the gist is that we all have the same number of problems, a mathematical constant, the Golden Ratio of Aw, Fuck, if you will. Your car broke down? Problem. You get it fixed, down to 13? Then oops! You leave a cherry flavored Chapstick in your pocket and it goes through the dryer. Your whites are now pink and you're back at 14 problems.
I don't know if I made this up or if I heard it somewhere. A dream, a thought that came to me while driving in a fugue state down 101. 14 problems. (Then suddenly I realized that I had been listening to some inane Ashley Parker Angel song, 2 minutes of my life that I will never get back, so I turned the station, problem solved! Just as suddenly the truck in front of me spat out some gravel and ding, a tiny spider of a crack on my windshield. Tomorrow the sun will rise and you will have 14 motherfuckin' problems, guaranteed.)
This past week has been hard. Working, Zoey adjusting to preschool, Bryan's back out, no whammies, no whammies, no! (Please tell me you know where that is from.) And I can't help but think if I just had more money almost all of my problems would be gone. Not to bore you with 14, but seriously, all but three of the problems I can think of stem from not having money. Enough money. More. What?
So what if suddenly I did have money? Won the lottery, stumbled upon a drug deal gone awry with everyone dead and a pile of millions and a square cut humongous emerald ring on a finger that had been quite ceremoniously chopped off and cast into the dirt, what? What if?
In mathematics and the arts two quantities are in the golden ratio if the ratio of the sum of the quantities to the larger one equals the ratio of the larger one to the smaller. I could read that sentence a thousand pi r squared times over and I still wouldn't be able to draw it. But this much I get: in life there exists math, numbers and slices of light, fractals, and that all of it--math and trees and music and me--all of it is somehow connected to beauty. Humanity. What we find to be good. And so it doesn't surprise me that we should all have a constant number of problems. 14 or 67: I'm not sure. Me and you. There is a woman in Darien, Connecticut right now upset that a neighbor's dog keeps shitting in her soft downy bushes of prized lamb's ear. Meanwhile a woman in Angola is worried about her children playing in a field of landmines, her husband already an amputee.
Now before you get all anonymous on me, let me be clear: obviously a landmine is worse than dog shit, la la la, that is not the point. The point is that both of those women have 14 problems. Right now Zoey is pissed that today is not her day for Show and Tell--try telling her that is hardly a problem.
I guess what I am saying is this: I like my problems. All 14 of them. Because the What If is becoming quite clear. I will always have 14 problems and these ones that I've got now are really not so bad. No money, no money, wham! There is a beauty in the shared humanity of it, how I will drive to work this morning and glance into the car next to me, a man with a face bored and fat. He has 14 problems, too.
In other news: Jesus Christ, can you imagine if I smoked pot?