01/19/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Revolution in the Hello


Our Mapquest was, it turned out, hallucinated. Everyday we had a trip to take, from here to there and there to here. There were miles of pavement, hours of sitting in softly-vibrating holograms that moved us through the sprawl. We would push a button for a song that sounded like an orgasm, and then wait for security to search us, or an elevator door to open.

We learned to wait longer and longer as we grew older, but we would spend more and more. Packages multiplied in our hands, on shelves, the FedEx was at the door. The proliferation of products, flashing with landscapes, sexual parts, the logic of convenience -- gave off the sensation that we were getting somewhere. In fact, we had become masters of an insane kind of yoga.

We commuted through time, walking down the long hallway wallpapered with logos -- and there were always logos nearby as the years passed. We didn't notice them so much. The shapes combined the power of crosses, breasts, and bullets, -- they would burst into view, on an elastic band of underwear, or up on hollow metal poles by the side of the highway.

What is happening to us here at the end of 2008? We are laughing, shrugging our shoulders and walking sideways off the Mapquest. It can happen while standing in line, or waiting at that elevator -- when somehow a new logic enters our mind like a little radical common sense, "What am I waiting for? I've been waiting for years."

The dream of being a Consumer was supposed to be a one-way trip. It was the new America and there was no way out -- only the deeper dream. Buying more simulations of life, the way of products lay shining before us, the American utopia. There was unlimited debt to buy more time to dream this dream, more miles in the hallucinating trip-tych. Now whole banks vanish overnight. The billionaire is arrested in his pajamas. The mirage falls to the pavement as trash.

We wake up, but we can't move. Are we are overwhelmed by the prospect of a sensual life beyond products? We have an open field before us. The change a-comin' will not be an adjustment. It can be as basic as we want to make it. We are not ideological -- there is no great "ism" waiting in the wings. But when we begin to move -- we're sluggish now from our deep sleep -- we will go to the neighbor that we daily padded by with our iPod, go up to that person and slow down. Taking in that so ordinary and so fantastic neighbor -- the revolution is here.

Have we noticed that we stopped buying cars? Let's give ourselves credit for that and get to work on the replacement, which starts with walking. If we walk in our streets again we re-magicalize them. Touching each other for a moment, "Hello!" -- in that moment the architecture around us seems to change. Doorways light up and windows seem to have better intentions. Ordinary life is the great entertainment as we re-enter public space...

Say hello to a neighbor and trade names and a new economy begins. Can we sense the release from debt and the launch into real wealth when we find a stranger who was always nearby but was lost in our consuming?