Saturday, September 10, 2011

A time to reflect

The end should be sad, I think, but it's the beginning that is truly so.
The end is often expected, sometimes welcomed, while the middle is lost in survival, but the beginning is a constant, recurring reminder that more is on the way, and everything is replaceable.
In spring, the trees are all covered with blossoms and bright-green leaves; the cycle renews itself no matter the length or severity of the winter and without regard for those who didn't survive. Everything that will survive moves forward by successfully repeating the process of existence until it no longer can, at which time it will simply be replaced by something that can.
The best parts of life are the individual interpretations of events and emotions and the memories of those times, created of their own volition. No two recollections of a given moment are identical, and the way the past survives in someones mind is a collection of significant moments that define them as an individual.
The loss of the twin towers as buildings doesn't mean much to me, but the loss of what lived in so many minds, which simply disappeared that day, is heart-breaking, and the idea of simply starting the cycle over and losing forever what went before is a profoundly sad concept.
I suppose the massive beams of light penetrating the New York skyline, in tribute to the absent twin towers, are helpful to some on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, but there is a gimmicky feel to it that bothers me. I can't watch many of the tribute shows that relive the agony of the family members left behind, because it feels wrong to "peek" into the windows of their suffering. There are so many horrible and tragic stories of loss, in New York, Afghanistan and Iraq, and it's time to stop adding to them.
I was working on my deck, listening to my favorite music on a sunny morning in Washington state when the planes flew into the towers, and I fully supported doing something as a nation, not just to exact revenge but to prevent future disasters of a similar nature...a giant, symbolic putting-down of our foot. But somehow, like the giant beams of light designed to unite the survivors in New York, the heroic words "lets roll," spoken by doomed passengers who refused to let terrorists define their ending, were stolen by the government to seize a partially open door and permanently tear it from its hinges, to make way for an endless flow of U.S. citizens and resources to solve unsolvable world issues. Our president used the sentiment openly in speeches, while encouraging us to "stay the course," though the course was undefined.
Ten years later, we have a 592 million dollar embassy in Iraq, the lowest congressional approval rating ever, historic unemployment and a tired, exploited patriotism.
I'm going to have some t-shirts made to help renew America's commitment to our greatness, and they will simply say:
As I look at that, I realize that the acronym isn't so clear, and I may have to spell it out.
What Would FDR Do?
The back will have the seal of the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Friday, August 5, 2011

It's all about perspective

Fourteen trillion dollars...
I can't even imagine the enormity of that number, let alone that my country's outstanding debt is represented by that figure.

On a sweltering August morning in Georgia, the heat and humidity were both approaching triple digits, or so it seemed. Feeling close to swooning, I entered a restroom where I work. The calming blue tiles of the floor and walls made the air-conditioned restroom seem heavenly. Not two full strides into the room and the sounds of a successful bowel movement reverberated through the walls of the stalls. The smell of success was sure to be close behind...,so I did an about-face and walked back out into the jungle-like heat. I was glad to draw in a hot, humid, unsoiled breath, but I was no closer to understanding life in general...

-Each dollar bill is 5 thousandths of an inch thick.
-200 hundred of them stack up to an inch.
-2400 make a foot tall pile.
-12,672,000 make a mile, rather quickly it turns out.
-And 14,578,478,000,000 of them make the trip to the moon four and a half times, while at the same time wonderfully exhibiting the greedy excesses of mankind.

I don't like to use public restrooms, but I always carry a set of earplugs which, if employed in time, makes them bearable. Yes, it's all still going on around me, but the ear plugs give me plausible deniability. I contemplated, okay...I actually tried nose plugs too, but the truth is that my nose has a built in filtration system for larger particles which my mouth and taste buds lack, so I abandoned them.

The rather crudely arrived at point is that sometimes I just don't need to know everything that is going on around me, especially the things that I have absolutely no control over.

While free-falling towards earth I discover that instead of a simple rip-cord, my parachute has a complex puzzle that must be solved in order to deploy it. Oh, how I long for a simple rip cord...
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh (angelic chorus showing enlightenment, not a panicked scream over the lack of a rip-cord)

It hits me. There is no spoon! There is no parachute and no fourteen trillion dollars. With a handshake and some understanding, it all disappears; it doesn't really exist...With no cars, Ipods, facebook, American idol and Tom Cruise (his involvement is less obvious, but the world has been going downhill since Top Gun), we go back to growing most of what we need and trading for the rest.

Sure, some people start kidnapping others, forcing them toil over their crops, and some people simply take over their neighbor's property, but only if God wants them to and indirectly speaks to them about it through their government.

Poof! I abruptly slow and start swaying side to side as my parachute deploys. Dammit! There is a parachute. A whack on the head from a large spoon forces me to look down, where earth slowly melts as I inch toward it amid tall green columns. A rapidly developing column races by on its way to the moon, nearly penetrating my parachute. I kick at the nearby column, but my foot passes right through it. IS there a spoon or not? Whack! Dammit! There is a spoon, and I don't like it anymore, but there doesn't seem to be a real column.

How do you know what is worth worrying about?
WHACK! Whack! Whackity-whack!
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh (angelic enlightenment chorus and a wail of frustration, both keeping time with the rhythmic thumping of the spoon)
The spoon has my full attention as I settle back to earth.

My boss exits the restroom...
"Hey, how's it going just-an-average-runner who was formerly known as Marathonman?"
"Okay I guess. Sorry, I can't shake hands...don't want to spread understand."

The gradually expanding foam plugs fill my ear canals, blocking out the outside world.
Swoosh! A near miss of the spoon as I re-enter the heavenly blue coolness of the restroom.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"And would it have been worth it, afterall"

"Would it have been worthwhile?"

There are certain truths in life and in literature that seem to always define the bottom line. Cleverly phrased axioms become so universal as to be trite, though their beginnings were pure and, as previously mentioned, cleverly phrased. "The sun also rises" is one of my favorites, narrowly edging out the lesser known "I knowed you done had it" (a southern colloquialism that implies that someone knew someone else had or indeed may still have something).
I choose to interpret the "the sun also rises" as the idea that no matter what happened previously, tomorrow represents a fresh start. This is important, because sometimes things change, and no amount of reason or rationale can make them how they used to be...what cannot be unfelt.

In crooked distance disappearing, forgotten imagined or unaware.
What satisfied so completely, neatly vanished in thin air.
In air that holds so many secrets, swallowed whole then whisked away.
In deluded haze it is I reprised, half-heartedly replayed.

At midnight last night, the deadline for my withdrawal from early retirement came and went. This morning feels like the day I committed to running my first marathon; without fear, there is the realization that there is no where to hide and the outcome will only be determined by me.

My last entry here in November ended with the idea that maybe is wasn't too late to make a difference...and so, "the sun also rises."