Our oldest daughter turns 18 in a couple weeks. It’s hard sometimes to see her in her entirety. The now is always so … present. But she was a brilliant child. A true child of wonder. Her transition away from childhood was slow. But now the claws of the machine are under her skin, and I see her struggle with it—just less so lately. It’s as though she’s given in. Succumbed to the inevitable. It makes me think of Blake.  

And I blame you. You follower of trends. You are responsible for this insidious American machine that latches onto us early in life and forces us to compete with each other to accumulate wealth so that we have the power to control our lives. Money. That’s what we love in America. Money is what we trade in our dreams for. Money is what trade our daylight for. Money is what we hold most important when we elect our leaders. Money is what controls the narrative that we consume. A narrative designed to keep us at each other’s throats and tells us that our brothers and sisters who work their asses just like we do to get the money we need to have power and control over our lives, are our enemies. And we buy it. Because … what the hell else can we do? So we work and fight and work and fight and boom—we’re fifty. Fuck. My retirement portfolio isn’t what it needs to be. Must work harder. My kid needs to pay for college which is TOO EXPENSIVE TO BEGIN WITH. Must work harder. Must invest better. Must focus on the goddam golden carrot. Must. Run. Faster. 

Until … our fragile shell that sits atop a fragile planet—which is miraculously situated just the right distance from a fucking star to have an atmosphere and water and moderate temperatures necessary to support life—breaks down and stops working. 

But hey, we went for the gold. Right? We can spin through the cold empty vastness of space as ashes knowing that other (soon-to-be) ashes considered us good at life

I never want any more than I need. And I swear to God this makes me feel like an outcast in America. 

Jim Christianson 

Oscars 2019

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.