In 1995 there was a call for entries for an anthology of American voices — “Whispers in the Wind.” Out of 11,000 entries, 200 were selected. Food for Thought by Opal Cavitt was one of them. Copyright 1995 All rights reserved. I wrote this while having a cup of coffee thinking deeply of how someone was treating me. I believe ego gets in our way when what is really needed is respect, humility. Food For Thought by Opal Cavitt
I’m not sure when it happened. EQUAL, I mean. One day, I just realized I had become acutely obsessed, possessed, or regressed about this elusive substance — EQUAL.
I wanted it. I thought about it all the time. I would find myself racing like a crazed maniac to the nearest Seven Eleven or McDonalds for hot coffee, hot tea, iced tea or any beverage. Then, I would quickly make my way to the other counter where I’d shove my hand into a bin scarping up those wonderful little blue packets – EQUAL. I don’t know why. Would they equalize my brain? Would they magically make me equal on some man made plane? Would they eliminate my pain? Would they, by some slight of hand, make the nickel in the seam of my pocket more equal to the quarter? Or the dollar that eluded me more equal to the ten or the $100 bill found in the pockets ahead of me or down the street?
The EQUAL in these wonderful little blue packets were the only sweetness I savored in life. They were free. I craved it. In hot tea, it became the elixir of my life. It would calm the palpitation of the fears that plagued me. It had power too. It didn’t take much of this white stuff to sweeten even a tall glass of tea.
Not long ago, I rushed to the Seven Eleven to find only a limited few packets in the bin. I trembled with fear. What if an Executive Decision had been made in the oval office? “Be careful how you dispense this commodity. Once the trailer trash or the people on the streets realize its value, we won’t be able to control it. Things will get out of hand.” They would hold it back; make me have to develop more cunning — plan ahead.
So much in life is so bitter — like getting up at 4 a.m. to get ready to catch a bus at 5 a.m. It’s Labor Ready, Add A Man or standin’ up for Standby in a line hoping to get a job before the hoards arrive at 6 a.m. All of this for a job that might start at 7 a.m., 8 a.m., or even 9 a.m. for the smashing sum of four dollars and twenty five cents an hour.
When my job is done, I pick up my daily reminder: “In Gold We Trust.” Then it’s back to the Seven Eleven to pour my coffee and pick up a handful of little blue packets. I tear a small corner on the side so I can watch these precious crystals flow into a gentle pool in my cup. On some days, I’m generous with myself — four packets, instead of the two my taste usually requires. Hey, I’m a good person. I deserve EQUAL. As I sip its sweetness, I wonder if it would make my gait in these cast-a-way sneakers fall in line equal to Etonics, Reeboks, or Adidas. Will it infuse my soul with some new spirit that will make me palatable to those well on their way to EQUAL?
Does acceptance of the mind wash that feeding off of, or plundering those perceived as less equal, make one equal ? EQUAL to what? What is the value of this forward/backward dance that threatens to destabilize and make everything UNEQUAL?
Even God’s birds are not safe.
Our Constitution says all men are created equal with the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness. But the Constitution was written by men who took more EQUAL. And what of women? Or children? Imbibed with this magical potion, would I now be more EQUAL to the task of pursuing life and happiness, while I have no liberty? All I can really pursue is the notion of a JOB that is guaranteed to enslave me and make me less EQUAL.
Our democratic system claims to be government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Majority rules. But of course, in the final analysis, this is not so. This system entraps my body, but not my mind. I strive diligently to free my soul. How can I embrace a system perpetuated by myth? Even its masses have fallen away and no longer care to participate. This is a system straining against its own seams and a harsh reality: It is turned against itself. Under its philosophy, even learned people become confused, sell out, lose their WAY and their values to become victims of their own minds and UNEQUAL.
Out on the street, down and out, am I not created equal in the eyes of the Lord? And when it’s all said and done, and we make that final journey, who will be calling the plays? Will this commodity called money buy my passage? I think not. We’ll all leave the same way: alone and EQUAL.
EQUAL is really an adult thing. Kids don‘t understand it. They only know sugar is sweet. Better give this stuff to your kids — especially those with curly heads and darkened skins. Maybe it can help them grow up to EQUAL.
Only one last gulp in this cup. Hmm . . . I wonder if the little blue packets at McDonalds are equal to those at Burger King or those at Seven Eleven? Or for that matter, those at the supermarket for $3.50 a box?
All I know is: I need EQUAL. On my way out I’ll allow my nimble fingers to pluck another packet. Ah, hell, if no one’s watching I’ll shove fistfuls into my pockets. The intensity of my feeling about these little blue packets, and my feelings of scarcity, and my convictions or fear that somehow I might not really be EQUAL, is punctuated by the tenuousness of my plight — UNEQUAL.
Maybe in the right hands, in some surreptitious way, someone could start a national campaign for EQUAL. Maybe I should become a collector . . . get my hands on as many of these little blue packets as possible. I could become a profiteer of EQUAL. How many packets would it take to make me EQUAL? If I could really get my hand son this stuff, I might get high. It would be better than winning the lottery.
You really can’t talk enough about something like this. It’s not the kind of thing to keep under wraps. I cannot protest enough about a world without EQUAL.
Out on the street, it’s fuckin’ shit or mother fuckin’ shit. One needs something to equalize the bitterness. Hmmm . . . I wonder if a packet of EQUAL savored under the viaduct is just as sweet as one savored at the Hilton Hotel.
Unlike sugar or the stuff in other packets, EQUAL IS DIFFERENT. Has my mind gone to seed? Have I lost touch with reality? I think not.
I strive desperately to keep one reality before me at all times: My JOB here is to find my way HOME to PEACE and EQUAL. Yes, I’m angry . . . but I try to sweeten my life with EQUAL. You ask, why my obsession with EQUAL. Maybe it’s all foolishness or maybe — just maybe . . . its food for thought