So depressed. Too much to go into. No. My heart isn’t broken. Not in that way.
Stared long and hard at a set of quotes I had prepared for a post. No words. Nothing.
Here. Have some Steve Martin playing with Python . . .
Wednesday afternoon. Rainy and cold, 44 degrees.
Technology is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, technology allows us to connect with people all over the world at any given our of any given day. We can share what is going on in a country at war with itself in real time. Consider the Arab Spring. We cam share a sunrise on the other side of the world via real-time posts of photographs on networks like tumblr or Facebook or Twitter.
Yet for all of its benefits, technology also serves to isolate us. I am speaking, of course, from personal experience.
It is so much easier for me to correspond with people in the various circle of my life via text or e-mail or comments sections than it is to get in the car, drive, and visit someone in person. For isolationists such as myself, this is not a boon. By making it so easy to maintain virtual relationships it has also become so easy to abandon real-life relationships.
What I am contending is not anything new or groundbreaking, but it does help to answer some questions that I’ve been pondering, namely, how is it easy for me to stay in the house for weeks at a time? That, and have I become boring?
Technology answers the first, and probably the second.
Perhaps I should have prefaced the former by saying that today is a bad day. I am now officially out of my antidepressant; my health insurance is in limbo awaiting reinstatement after we catch up on premiums; Corey is becoming more sullen with each passing day that he is not working or hearing from prospective employers. Granted, he is still officially employed, but he so wants to move to a position that does not take him away for 90 days at a time, so this time his hiatus is quite different from the last time.
Nevertheless, he worries, as do I, and both of us fretting makes for tension. Between my health insurance, the mortgage, and the utilities, our income is being eaten before it materializes. Neither of us wanted to be back in this position. It is far too stress-inducing. The term “financial cliff” is more than a metaphor for the nation’s current solvency, and that is unfortunate. At least we don’t have to have a super majority vote to rectify our personal cliff, which, I suppose, is somewhat of a comfort.
So yes, today is prickly. I’ve had Patty Griffin’s playlist running for the past couple hours, prompted in part by Izaak Mak’s posting of the song on NCIS last night (see below). I love her voice, but granted, her songs are not exactly happy feet music. Of course, I don’t really like happy feet music, do I?
I had my military dream last night; the difference was that I was not in the military, but I had been chosen to teach a class to a group of soldiers, all female. The strangeness began when we boarded a bus that then became a boat of sorts. It took us down this waterway that was a graveyard for vessels of all kinds, shapes, and sizes. I was wondering how the bus was maneuvering through all of this without hitting anything when I suddenly saw a pile of skulls out the bus window. The skulls were bleached white from the sun.
As the bus continued through the water I saw more piles of skulls, some small and some so massive that they were cascading. I wondered how the military could allow its soldiers to come to their final resting place in wreckage, and it bothered me tremendously.
I realized that I had never seen a real human skull up close, only in film, and the starkness of the piles tore at me, but I could not show weakness in front of these female soldiers. I asked for a cup of strong coffee and tried to shake it off.
I awoke with a massive headache.
So back to my opening statement.
My world has extended far beyond the borders of this house or this yard or this neighborhood. Beyond this city or this region or this country, and that is something I have always sought—to be a child of the universe, per se.
Each day I peruse pictures of nebulae, coastlines, ruins, architecture, pictures taken with satellites and phones. I see things that I wouldn’t have had easy access to even 20 years ago. I find this miraculous really. I mean, I know what’s going on in Namibia, Queensland, and Reykjavik. And if I am honest, I must admit that by expanding my horizons in this way I have also expanded my empathic circle.
By that I mean, I care so much more. Let me back up for a moment. When I was young, a child only, I saw pictures of the war on the news and in newspapers. I saw suffering as it was presented to me through the filter of editors, publishers and producers. My first glimpse of a crystal blue sea was in a book.
Now, I access such information without anyone on the other side deciding whether or not it’s a good idea to put this image or that story out there for consumption. This is both good and bad. It is good as it allows us—all of us who care to—allows us to see what’s happening, but without the filter of an editor or a producer, we very often encounter those things that are extremely disturbing.
Without an authority figure out there to decide what is best for us, we can literally see everything. Is it too much?
I don’t think that this is the kind of discovery that Thoreau had in mind, and part of me yearns for simpler times, but isn’t that always the way that it is?
Regardless of how misguided you think Christopher McCandless was when he went into the wilds of Alaska, there is still something admirable about his vision quest when looked at simply: He wanted to be able to find his own truth without outside influences telling him what he should do or how he should think.
I know that in many, many ways, that is the same thing that I have always wanted. Yet here I sit, allowing so very many outside influences into my life, pouring into my brain images of this or that or the other. I seek this deliberately, and in so doing, I contradict myself.
My friend on Titirangi Storyteller posted a beautiful image of a lighthouse on a craggy island. I was immediately drawn to this image much like the image in the section above, immediately understood what she meant about wanting to live there. But to live there would be, essentially, to live without all of the accoutrement of today’s technology. I am certain there is no wi-fi on that island, no cable, no BBC America, no tumblr, no Internet.
It’s starkness appeals to me, but could I do it? Could I abandon these tethers for that kind of freedom? And if I did something like this, would it actually be freedom?
I have no answers, only more questions.
More later. Peace.
(All images by Tobias Richter, used with permission.)
Music by Patty Griffin, “Not Alone” (from last night’s episode of NCIS)
The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,
is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can’t breathe.
No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.
~ Margaret Atwood
I feel very fortunate that I have collected a group of bloggers who happen to be wonderful people: good writers, deep thinkers, analytical commentators, wry wits . . . and lest I forget, genuinely kindhearted individuals who share their thoughts, stories, and insights with anyone who wants to visit. And sometimes, one of them writes something that is so in keeping with exactly how I am feeling about something, that the best course of action is to repost what has already been written.
Such is the case with the following. Enjoy.
My fellow Americans,
You have been offered the rarest of reprieves; please do not throw it away. Two years ago the underpinnings of our economy, rusted through by deregulation and burdened by the weight of unjustified tax cuts and unfunded wars gave way into free fall. In that moment of sober terror Barack Obama led the Democratic Party to a historic victory; the hard right wing of the American political spectrum was electrified in a way they had not been for at least a generation and immediately attacked everything about Obama from his policies to his ancestry. His enemies have accused him of being ‘brainwashed’ by the Christian pastor Jeremiah Wright while vilifying him as a secret Muslim; according to these critics, he is both a pawn of Wall Street and a Socialist. He is a snobby elitist who identifies with the wretched depraved poor of the third world. Most of all, he is Not Like Us.
That the economy has actually been growing for the last year or more is of little consequence. That taxes are lower now than during Reagan doesn’t matter. Combat forces have left Iraq, terrorist plots are being disrupted at home, and insurance companies will no longer be able to discriminate against you because you had cancer or they don’t like the way you look. It’s astonishing how Americans who had been so passionate about invading Iraq made no note of leaving it, to say nothing how after the great anxious concern they have long displayed over the threat of terrorism they don’t seem to appreciate when our current government actually susses one out. And it’s downright weird how so many regular Americans feel such concern for the welfare of insurance companies these days.
We Americans, however, are renowned for our ability to get downright weird. You know what I mean. How’s that ammunition stockpile working out? Good thing you invested in that, right? Because Obama wants to take your guns, right? Seeing as how during the past two years gun restrictions have actually been loosened and no move has been made by the Administration to interfere with the right to gun ownership in any way one would think that this particular anxiety would relax, but that’s asking a lot from people who think that the President is a Muslim. They must feel very tense.
My fellow Americans, I love you, I truly do. I know how angry and betrayed you feel right now; the game of musical chairs Mr Bush was playing came to a very sudden end, even quicker than they ever expected it would, and most of you were left without anywhere to sit. Mr Obama wanted the job and he has a lot of responsibility to bear, but he is not to blame for America’s problems and has in fact been demonstrably effective in every measure even if he has fallen short of achieving all that has been hoped for. People were hoping for quite a bit more than is reasonable to expect, but that is the way of things, isn’t it?
I am in no one’s pocket; my own are empty as yours. I see our roads and bridges crumbling, our gas lines and sewers are leaking; this is not time to cut taxes and reduce public spending. Shutting down the government is not going to make our nation stronger or our economy thrive; it is a meaningless sabotage, a reckless partisan stunt that hurts Americans and only helps Republicans. This is not idle speculation, it is the stated goal of both Tea Party and Republican leaders; I don’t know if there’s ever a good time to elect officials whose stated goal is to wreck the government, but that time is certainly not now.
Glenn Beck wants you to remember what you felt like on 9/12/01, which, if you are anything like me, was a mix of rage, confusion, grief and fear; it was an intense raw shock that made people irrational enough to think invading Iraq was a good idea. I think it would be better if you thought about the present; take a deep breath and a close look at the people you may be sending to Washington and reconsider. Please.