More Coffee and Less Introspection

If I could do it without waking my wife and angering my neighbors, I would assemble the necessary tools and materials, along with bright lights to enable me to see what I’m doing, and go outside and continue scraping my deck this morning. I got a lot done yesterday, but not enough. Today will be lost to the effort because of a brunch honoring a friend, followed by a meeting at church. I could get a lot done in the wee hours if I didn’t have to worry about annoying people with the noise and hubbub. And, of course, if I could successfully summon the sun to light my workspace. I suppose large halogen lights would do, but I’d have to deal with a tangle of electric cords. The sun would provide better light, anyway. But I’m afraid I don’t control the sun, one of many aspects of life on this planet and beyond that are outside my control.

In the long hours today of darkness after waking and before dawn, it occurs to me that there are more aspects to life over which I have no control than aspects over which I do. That’s not new information, of course, but it bears an occasional reminder. I don’t control the universe any more than the universe dictates how I spend every waking second, though the second point is arguable, I suppose. Perhaps a better perspective is this: I can’t control everything, but I can control something. That’s suspiciously close to the concept that I can’t do everything, but I can do something. That is, I can make a difference in some aspects of life, though not in every aspect. Still, the fact that I can’t control the sun is disappointing in the extreme.

Turning to a less whimsical theme, here’s some fiction I wrote last night:

Carrigan Smithers paced back and forth across the room, pausing on occasion to glance out the window to see whether the lights were on in his neighbors’ houses. He spoke into the microphone in his left hand, explaining to someone who might hear his recorded words later what he was thinking:

“I can no longer promise civility. I can no longer promise non-violence. I can no longer promise I will engage in debate. Instead, I can promise the possibility of incivility. I can promise the possibility of raging violence. I can promise the possibility I will slit the throats of people who would lie to protect their power. There comes a time at which even men who are too gentle to live among wolves must gird their loins and prepare to use their teeth and claws  to shred the flesh of those who would enslave them. That time has come. At the first sign freedoms are usurped, blood will follow in wave upon wave upon wave. Those who would steal our freedom will suffer the unflinching rage of people who won’t tolerate that theft. There will be hell to pay, far beyond any definition of hell anyone has seen heretofore.

Sharpen your machetes, make sure your axes are like razors, turn your knives into instruments of freedom. If you have guns, make sure they are at the ready. We must be ready for a civil explosion unlike any we have seen before. And we must be willing to engage. The lives of children and grandchildren and great grandchildren depend on it.

The reality, of course, is that our freedoms already have been usurped. So, if my words were to have any meaning, I’d already be in the midst of shedding the blood of those who enslave us. Nonetheless, I am angry. And I do think the time may be near for good people to abandon civility and its relatives in favor of freedom and decency. Granted, decency generally requires civility and non-violence, but that’s true only in “normal” times. These are not normal times. We have been played like a stringed instrument. A significant segment of our people have become pawns to a small group of elderly white men who are desperately afraid of losing their control over their wealth and power. Those old white men must be excised like the cancerous cyst they have become. My preference would be to do it the simplest way possible: vote them out. But they have followed a not-so-secret directive by “rigging the system.” Voting is no longer the simple process it once was. It requires, in many places, extensive efforts to prove one’s “legitimacy.” That is, one essentially must prove one’s Old White Republican Conservative Credentials in order to cast a ballot. When they take away my right to vote, they take away their right to live. That’s my sense of it.”

Carrigan listened to what he had said, then deleted the file. “That’s not the way I want to leave it,” he said, then continued to pace.

He looked at the photograph on the dresser, taken on his wedding day twenty years earlier, and sighed. “She wouldn’t have wanted me to be involved in the revolution, but she would have been proud of me when I joined it.”

So there you have it. Bad writing and a bad mood, coupled with an absolute inability to control sunlight. Hell, if I could control the sun, I’d probably also be able to resurface my deck without much effort. I think I live in a fantasy land, a place in my head that’s populated with a cast of characters than number in the millions and whose characteristics, attributes, flaws, and foibles are nearly as numerous as the characters. They all have untold stories that, taken individually, are incomplete and boring. But if I could consolidate them into one larger-than-life story, I could write a book. But by the time I get to writing it, my interests will have shifted to blacksmithing or roller-blading or developing an expertise in kangaroos. I think perhaps my inability to focus is a symptom of fear; fear that, even if I give something my best effort, I’ll never be very good at it. I’ve never admitted that to myself before, but I think that could be it.

It’s approaching 5:30. The sun won’t be up for quite some time and I think I need more coffee and less introspection.

About John Swinburn

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