And in the End, Good Vibes

Some days, the photographic reminders sent to me by Microsoft and Google—images from this day three or six or ten years ago—are welcome souvenirs of happy experiences. But some days the images bring back memories that tear me apart. They remind me of what I’ve lost, never to find again. I feel mixed emotions when I see those photographs. On one hand, I want the images etched in my brain forever; on the other, I want to smash the computer screen for its cruelty in taunting me about a life I’ll never experience again. It’s not the computer screen, of course. It’s me. It’s my response to a photographic image. It’s an unexpected trigger that I can barely withstand. Suddenly, my plans for the day are ruined, replaced by memories that cause tears to flood down my face. It will pass. But never completely.


I cannot let photos ruin today’s plans. Today, I must devote my energies to completing long-delayed tax forms. Today, I must find and dredge up 1099s and their brethren. Those forms are convoluted bureaucratic evidence of our society’s worship of and responsibilities for financing war and imprisonment and society restrictions on individual freedoms. And, of course, hurricane and forest fire relief and interstate highways. But getting a reliable picture of how our tax dollars are spent is a little like determining the make and model of cars on a snow-covered highway by examining the tracks their tires make: it’s a long, excruciating, and imprecise undertaking. Here’s a graph showing 2015 figures on discretionary spending; a graph incorporating mandatory spending would present a different picture (with only around 11% of total expenditures going toward military spending, compared to 54% of discretionary spending).

Ah, but I’m getting off-track, as I am wont to do. I need to return to the issue at hand; namely, getting my taxes done. If I don’t, the Federal Government could take possession of my bank accounts, cease payment of my Social Security benefits, terminate my Medicare benefits, and send heavily-armed enforcers whose faces are hidden behind camouflage masks to drag me into the streets to make a bloody, screaming example of me. Well, I may be exaggerating a tad. Suffice it to say failure to file my tax forms, even after paying my taxes, would result in unpleasantness I do not wish to experience. So I better get to it, and soon.


Yesterday’s power outage in parts of the western section of the Village kept us (and all other members and guests) from attending our church. Instead, we took advantage of the unexpected and unplanned freedom by lolling about; eating lunch out and, in leisurely fashion, filling my IC’s display cases (there’s probably a less commercial-sounding name for them) with glass and crystal and other showy pieces of art disguised as drinkware and such. We thought about inviting a friend over to exhibit laughter-inducing behavior, but that thought came too late in the day to act on. So we were modestly productive, instead. And we visited with another friend, who had lent us a spectacularly good book on Hamilton (the musical), to return his book and chat about his impending plans to relocate to another state.


We are not alone in desiring change. Change of scenery, change of climate, change of attitude, change of lifestyle. Just change. Last night, my IC called to speak to one of the organizers of a UU church in one potential destination. The organizer’s involvement in creating a new “fellowship” clearly demonstrates the woman’s interest in change. Everyone wants change; but not too much. We want change sufficient to recognize that there’s a difference, but not so much as to upend our lives completely. The trick, of course, is to know where that sweet spot rests. And it’s vital that we recognize the losses that accompany change, if we have any hope of filling in the gaps caused by those losses. In an ideal world, friends would all simultaneously come to the conclusion that change is right for them, too, at the same time. But deeply engrained idealism is reserved for the young and inexperienced; people who have been around the block a few times know that idealism has the ability to either re-create youth or crush the soul. It’s best to be careful around seeking the ideal in any environment, because ideal circumstances can come with long, sharp knives in the hands of highly-practiced meat carvers who have bad attitudes. That is, the ideal seldom is.


A promise is a promise. I promised myself I would attack taxes today (and tomorrow, if that’s what it takes), and I shall keep that promise. So, no more delays. I’ll wrap up this post, make some more coffee, have a bowl of cereal, and get to work. Please think of me today as you go about your happier-than-mine day. Send good vibes; in anticipation that you will, I am sending them to you.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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