Today is Valentine’s Day. Like so many other holidays, it has been appropriated by money-hungry merchants and their philosophical kin, eager to transform a celebration into an opportunity to extract money from celebrants. I read an article this morning that suggested the occasion has “dark origins.” Though financial gain may not have played a part in its origins, lust and power apparently did. If one examines today’s celebration of the event with a critical eye, I think lust and power—along with avarice hardly concealed behind a transparent veil—continue to serve as its driving forces. Love ostensibly is the reason for the day, but in my cynicism, I have my doubts. Happy Valentine’s Day. I will happily lavish you with heart-shaped chocolates in return for unfettered access to your kisses and your nakedness and…
I feel the urge to embark on day trips. Or week trips. Or month trips. Road trips of one duration or another. When I feel these urges, which seem to arise with increasing frequency, I find myself perusing advertisements for Class B recreational vehicles—expensive mini-houses (more like upscale tents, I guess) on wheels. Though designed for two, they seem to me to be somewhat better-suited to solo travel. But I think they would work just fine for two, provided they have retractable awnings and room to store comfortable chairs designed for outdoor use. I’ve been advised to rent one before buying, if I were to decide to buy, but the cost to rent them seems obscenely high to me. I’d rather borrow one from a good friend and repay the favor with something of equal non-monetary value. Among the problems with that idea, though, is that I do not have friends who both own such vehicles and have sufficient trust in me to feel comfortable with the arrangement. I do not blame anyone for that. Letting someone borrow something as expensive as a quality Class B RV requires more than trust—it requires requires unshakable faith, the kind that grows over the course of a lifetime of closeness. Maybe I’ll buy one, anyway. It’s just money, right? With that level of expenditure, though, I might feel obligated to spend most of the year on the road, in order to justify the investment. “Investment.” One does not “invest” in something guaranteed to shrink in monetary value over time. It’s an expense, pure and simple. But isn’t retirement an opportunity to incur expenses without regard to ROI? Still, I have not yet convinced myself. I may be incapable of changing a mind so firmly ensconced in frugality and risk aversion. Hmmm.
Again. And again. And again and again and again. Obviously, the time has long since passed when steps could have been taken to prevent the carnage. Actions now might lessen the number, but we have squandered our chances to reduce the number to near zero. Access to guns of all types is too readily available. Prospective mass shooters have seen and heard about too many role models to dam the flood of ideas that wash over them, triggering warped ideas of empowered hatred or revenge or control. Fanatical adherents to warped ideas about the intent of the Second Amendment are too numerous to make possible the collection and destruction of assault rifles and other weaponry unnecessarily available to virtually everyone. More aggressive mental health programs might make a dent in the problem, but the epidemic has become too widespread for the disease to be eradicated by treating its symptoms. I hold out no hope that mass shootings can be prevented. Or even that their numbers might be reduced. We now face the reality of being forced to live—and die—with them.
I wish my pessimism were unfounded. But I am afraid it is not. It is only a matter of time before a local grocery store or senior center or high school or bath house become a scene for a killing spree.
Despite what I have written this morning, I am not an inveterate curmudgeon. I am more of a happy-go-lucky guy who is struggling to untie the ropes that have heretofore bound him to tentativeness. I am ready for more coffee and a reasonable breakfast; nothing tentative about that.