Words of occasional wisdom from Bruce Oakley

How are ya, 5-0?

Posted by boakley59 on September 15, 2009

I’ve been on this rock in the void for 50 years now, and it’s feeling especially cold this turn around.

The view from here today is perhaps a bit falsely dark, as we recently have had car trouble and a particularly bad weekend for various sports favorites of mine, all coming off a rather pleasant and uplifting summer. So, the roller coaster may just be dipping through a momentary low. Nevertheless, I don’t recall feeling so glum looking back over one year and forward to another.

Two years ago, I was still quite sick yet optimistic and fighting to get back to work, a couple of weeks before admitting that it wasn’t to be. Last year, I was desperately trying to keep my head from exploding after listening to the alternate universe drivel of the Republican Convention and the general foolishness of the election, which I acknowledge had no shortage of nonsense from the Democrats. But I thought sanity and rationality had a chance.

One more spin around the sun later, and I’m afraid winter has come. I am sick. I can’t go back to work, though I am much improved. I have no recuperative power, no resistance to setbacks or any energy drain. I must act at what I call a stately pace and I must keep an even temper. I cannot busily engage with people, and here is where I am lost. I do not rub up against real people often enough to forgive them or even to accept them.

The dogs and I watch cars, pedestrians and stray animals pass by, threatening our turf, and we snarl at them. I see the false people of TV shows and wish sometimes that real people were more like them, easier to like or to hate. Sometimes, I wish real people were less like them, not so shallow or despicable. I watch the fleeting images of real people in the news and see them reduced to the caricature of screenplay good guys and bad guys, and I am ashamed of my species. With the dogs, I snarl at these passing aliens threatening my comfort zone, even if they mostly look a lot like me.

I am dismayed at a health care reform effort in which health care is hardly mentioned while everyone argues over whose money matters most. I am saddened that plain good manners cannot be expected of members of Congress listening to a presidential address. I cannot identify with purported homo sapiens sapiens who see Nazis at every good turn, shoot doctors in churches, try to ban the teaching of evolution, deny the damage of fouling our own nest, and in general are at odds with the reality in which they live.

Some of these people call themselves religious and indeed hold to the notion that we are beings somehow separate from the world in which we appear to exist, but they sure spend a lot of destructive energy over things that they claim to believe ultimately insignificant.

Yes, this birthday I am terribly tired. I worked hard to do my job well and to take care of my family, and I have insurance that has kept me alive and out of the poor house (barely on both, truth be told), but I can see how this system is failing, how fragile is the string that holds it together, how we are all pulling and tearing at that string.

I have friends and mere acquaintances who helped pull me through the worst of my health financing crisis, so I have some hope that we will recognize beyond individual cases that we must all be in this together. As I said, too, I had a pleasant summer, with my son coming to visit for Father’s Day (the first time I had seen him in a year), and with Suzy and I traveling to Tennessee to meet my mother on vacation from California (the first time I had seen her since my father’s funeral two and a half years ago) and also my sister (the first time I had seen her since her wedding last year). We paid down a lot of debt, and finally got around to many household projects that have long been on hold.

So, there is evidence on the small scale that decency and unity, or at least sharing, will prevail and we are not in our death throes as a nation or a species. But at a wider angle, zoomed out from my living room, it’s hard to see how we’re going to pull this together.

The thing is, we no longer have any excuse for the ignorance and pettiness we embrace. It’s too easy for all of us to get to source information, too easy to craft a real argument rather than simply label a foe as Hitler, too easy to seek the light rather than curse the darkness.

Yet here am I, cursing the darkness. How I do hate it! To curse the darkness is to fade into it. Our gift is to see beyond it, to talk each other through it.

My wish at this timepost is that we may all curse less and shine more as we rub up against each other.


One Response to “How are ya, 5-0?”

  1. […] starters, I revisited How are ya, 5-0? to see how I felt as the previous circuit came to an end and Turn 51 began. I am disappointed to […]

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