Monday, June 26, 2006

Why Break The Grappling?

It's been an odd week, even by my loose definition of oddness. Forget about the calendar; I'm talking about the days leading up to this moment. I'm still living in the separate, unseen parallel universe in which redheads driving Hummers aren't even elevated to a fantasy, let alone an inspiration- this phenomenon resonates in the other, "Three Little Bears" reality about which I hear such rosy reports. Every now and then, there's a break in the sunshine, and like Mad Anthony Wayne, tiny pieces of less pleasant news break off from the edges of the gingerbread, and tumble down in reckless, futile sorties. These are tiny skirmishes to the world at large, but seen at a more personal level, worthy of ones attention. I heard news of two old colleagues, from different stages of my working days. Neither knew of the other, as far as I know, nor would their personal lives have steered their paths together. They simply came to the same conclusion, by independent means.

My first impulse was one of a distant sadness, but that quickly gave way to a curiously arid, pragmatic assessment. That hardly seems fair! Weren't these men, in their own ways, decent, thoughtful, and devoted? Surely, there must have been perceptible signs of something going well amiss, ahead in their lives.

That may or may not have been the case, and each was certainly worthy of more than a few mumbled remembrances, after the fact. It takes one Hell of a sharp statement, to rise above the calamitous roar of this world. As there are no encores, we are forced to recall what was said in the moment, regardless of whatever else was being said at the time, or preceding it. And, in too many cases, decrypting the message doesn't reveal much more, as it was delivered abruptly and without herald. Sadness, pity, or self-recrimination are the mark of a person caught flat-footed by the incomprehensible. Incomprehensible is exactly the starting point toward, not the exit from awareness or sensibility of our condition. We as living creatures may weave and bob with the incomprehensible every day, and thus wean ourselves from what is comprehensible in our discourse with others; How else can we deal with incomprehensible scales of wealth or poverty, rectitude or depravity, indifference or esteem? How indeed, if these values were loosed from their moorings, never learned, or simply slack from disuse? There are remarkably few tears to shed, in consideration of this oversight.

"Old friends, we've found you out here, at last,
On your backs, in a field of close-cut grass,
At last, agape, as the Sun, clouds and stars drift by
Attended by Ravens, who prefer to visit unhurried, rather than to fly.

Dumbfounded at last, we, on your choice of repose,
look around each other faces, wondering, "Who knows?",
Who knew, or might have recognized your need,
and forestalled you from this irreversible deed?"

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father's Day

Normally, this is one of those cooked-up holidays, one that passes without much fanfare. I talk with my dad pretty regularly, and my kids talk to me; I don't need or want a paper placeholder to commemorate my place in this process. Whether this brands me some sort of misanthropic bum is left to others (presumably, with more time than I have, on their hands) to analyze. Let's say that my sentimental marker train doesn't normally stop along this line.

The preceding described my normal demeanor, but for some reason, I find myself waxing philosophic about the whole parental theme, this year. My kids are mostly formed as human beings, with experience and time to fill out what there is to complete their personalities. They have shown me warmth, intelligence, compassion, sophistication, love, and (perhaps most endearing) a strong sense of humor. This cannot have always been an easy combination for them to balance, but I have always felt that this is the only really meaningful gift I could hope for, and I haven't been disappointed.

How can I put a value on these qualities? I suspect that these exist (in varying measures) in all of us, but because they have no monetary value, they're largely suppressed or overlooked in our dealings with others (who might not be so close to us). Certainly, the same cues about the omnivorous, often violent world have been there, all along, and I've never been one to mince words in our conversations about the truths that we've lived with, especially in our new millenium. I'm trebly blessed that their intelligence, senses, and sensibilities have survived. These are just the pastels to contrast against an often grey backdrop.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

A Sifting Process

It's sad, but the only time that mosquitoes are genuinely noticed is when one visits the "Throne Room". Ones activities tend to tether one, and absent the freedom of movement, compel one to a somewhat limited range of responses. Futilely swatting(while squatting) only makes the conundrum more pronounced, highlighting the inherent folly of the circumstances.

Sounds like the lead-in to some juvenile "potty humor", doesn't it? It isn't. Believe me, it's no laughing matter.

Our premises have not really changed very much, in the aeons of mankinds existence. A place to stay, three squares a day, an occasional roll in the hay, and we're okay, right? This admittedly simple modus vivendi is actually a fine, all-purpose recipe for living, given the proposition that we'll live long, fruitful lives. Sure, we make mistakes when we're young, but then, we get the rest of our lives to set things aright, with God, our fellow men, but mostly, with ourselves. What could go wrong, given such a straightforward plan? I'm not so sure that there's a neat, symmetrical conclusion to this story.

It's not intended to be wasted, our washlist of unique experiences; even if the pieces don't always make sense, we're not done quite yet, nor are we at liberty to recuse ourselves from the proceedings. Circumstances (or, ones circumstances) are a flimsy arbiter of which skirmishes we may avoid, though it may seem that we can somehow rig the game so that the whole pile of chips slides our way. The animal kingdom is a pyramid of predatory relationships, but it takes a truly advanced, abstract mind (possibly human?) to see zero sum as a desirable vindication of their personal ambitions. It may be that the commotion and pageantry of life will bring out the truly great among mankind, in numbers to roughly match the abundance of opportunists and rogues. The predicates which drove each of us down the roads we've taken (whether high or low) may seem to foretell our outcomes, and seal our fates as individuals. There's more than a little likelihood of veracity in this notion, at least when weighing the probability of our personal survival, though this is a lousy rationalization for proceeding along with our mutually self-destructive lifestyles. Still, there seems to be ample support for its continued acceptance, as long as we see our adversaries as external and addressable directly on some real or imagined battlefield, either by ourselves or our surrogates. How much insulation is there, really, when we try to separate our actions from their reactions, either predicted or actual?

I wonder about this, but if I find myself tempted to point a finger, I point a finger at myself, as well. I suspect that the system that we live in will eventually overrule our neatly planned, diagrammed, approved use-cases. It will take a different set of motivations and behaviors, and probably, a different appreciation of living (a fat bank account may not help) to emerge from the problems ahead. We still adhere to our venerated patterns of dealing with others (plunder, hubris, mayhem, and prevarications), as though our man-made differences must trump all reality. I guess that when we hit the "System Reset" button (whether by accident or through sheer folly), we could finally get the change of priorities to supplant the tired, repetitious ones that we've applied, thus far. Until then, it for us to shrug off apathy and antipathy, and try to find that which has been muted or missing within ourselves. I don't expect to survive this transition, but still, it seems that there must be people who will; Maybe that's a bearable premise to live by, right now.

There must be others who see life as something worth preserving, for its own sake, even if not our own.