We live in world where everything must be neatly squared away. Closure is king. We want our TV shows tied up in 30 minutes, minus time for commercial breaks. We check the calendar to see when spring begins, and again to see when it ends. We want the separately-wrapped brownie which comes with our frozen dinner and the free toy hidden in the cereal box.
Without these cues, we would be a populace which ate cereal and frozen dinners continuously while watching television, engulfed in our winter clothes. We would not know when to stop.
Loose ends have a devestating effect upon our national psyche. Suffice it to mention Rhett and Scarlett, Amelia Earhart or JFK. These are unresolved issues from which our nation will never recover. For solace we turn to Disney and its above-average skill at silencing all voices of evil and uniting the forces of good, leaving no humanized piece of furniture without a love interest.
The same is true for professional sports for handing us, with nothing worse than overtime, a loser and a champion. Cut and dried, we can cease to think about these events once they are finished.
They do not leave us with thought-provoking images of Snow White abandoned in the field while the prince rides off with a dwarf. The announcer does not stop the basketball game in the third quarter to investigate whether a ball dropped in an empty stadium still makes a sound.
This would interfere with our ability to forget about these incidents.
A dearth of unresolved issues allows us to forget, or reminisce over particularly fine moments as we wish. Either way does not involve a great deal of mental exercise. It is nothing like arriving at the finish to find no one has told you what you are supposed to do or feel.
Maybe if we practiced, issues such as these would not be so problematic. If we required our grade schoolers to read fairy tales with the last five pages ripped out and continually hung up the phone in the middle of a conversation, we would have experience dealing with the unknown.
We could put the soap opera industry out of business as there would be no more women glued to their televisions on weekday afternoons in a desperate attempt to finalize, once and for all, the romantic entanglements of their famous alter egos. We could spend less time worrying about those troublesome concluding paragraphs on our papers. We could relax upon reaching the end of an academic year without the need of some sort of ceremony or celebration to serve as a summary, a marker to tell us that it is all truly over and we can now move smoothly into summer.
As it stands, summer finds us, whether joyous or depressed, confused regarding the absence of friends, dining halls, ID cards and bookbags.
For two and a half months we linger in a weird sort of limbo, with a residual feeling that there is a class somewhere we should be in and a salad bar just around the next corner. By the time the sheer number of days without e-mail beats into our heads that we are on vacation, summer is practically over.
And with the dawning of September the cycle begins anew, but this time in reverse.
It would be nice if life were like Legos. We could see the place where our diploma from kindergarden fits into our tablet paper in first grade and our graduation from college snaps right underneath our Nobel Peace Prize.
There would be no vague lines or fine distinctions. We could decorate everything with little plastic pine trees and androgynous Lego people of various Lego professions. If there were something we didn’t like we could rearrange it, or take everything apart and built a spaceship instead.
But life is more like a bunch of melted crayons. You might pick up a box of 64 with Michaelagelo-like intentions, but the finished product will almost certainly resemble nothing more than the carcass of a large squid. Everything blends together until you can’t tell cornflower from burnt sienna.
Continuity is not a bad thing. Without it the probability of remembering the combination on our SU boxes in September would be nonexistant. At home your dog would bite you and at school you would wander in a daze of nameless faces.
Melted crayons may be messy, but who wants to be a lego?