Waiting for the Ball
Just because 2016 was the year it was,
I’m sitting here on New Year’s Eve 2017 writing a reflective blog instead of
being out on the town madly celebrating. So many things have changed since last
New Year’s Eve! The best parts for me so far are personal while in the public
world outside I hear alarm bells clanging like they might crack.
In fact I sometimes rather easily
forget the positive because the negative is so potentially catastrophic. It
makes personal optimism seem almost delusional.
A Brand New Hip
My major positive change since this
time last year is my brand new left hip the Goddess of Coincidence scheduled
for my birthday in August. Now, on New Year’s Eve, it’s a proudly working part
of the whole of my vital architecture, gradually and successfully taking back
its rightful share of the stress the old hip had passed on across my lumbar
area, just to keep me upright and ambulatory.
But that noble effort was failing.
Last Christmas I had to perform my annual Concise
Dickens’ Christmas Carol in a rocking chair, staging it as a story told by
the fire in front of the Christmas tree.
This year I played it up on my feet
again, staging it to resemble a dance, and I don’t exaggerate when I say that I
moved again as I did when I was ten or fifteen years younger. A consummate
That gives me pause as I look
back over 2016. A year ago I was headed for a wheel chair. This year I look
forward to the joys of increased physical activity—swimming, biking, dancing,
walking the beach pain-free, and perhaps creating a new show. That outlook
alone gives back to me the vitality that had been slipping away.
A Liberated Eye
Meanwhile, as I write this, I’m in the
middle of cataract surgery. The left eye was liberated on Dec. 29, the right is
scheduled for later in January.
The cataract just removed, the doctors
said, was significant, so they don’t find it surprising that my cornea is
swollen and sore and my vision is cloudy and, as yet, unresolved. All that will
heal and improve, they assure me.
But already I’ve seen significant
change. The difference between my right eye, which reveals the world I’ve grown
used to, and my left, sore but cataract-free, is fairly dramatic.
For instance, the light of the
reflected Sun outside is no longer tinged with yellow but is gleaming white.
The same is true of our indoor lights—once yellow, now white. Other colors,
too, are different from what I’m used to, and always more vivid. I thought the
monitor of my old computer was wearing out because I had to keep pushing up the
brightness control. Now I find it’s too bright, I have to turn it back to see
the letters I type. If I look at our stove top with my right eye alone, it’s
yellowed like aging porcelain, but with my left eye it’s white as Mr. Clean. My
orange travel cup is not orange, it’s red. My new winter vest is not blue but
Everything, in short, is all new to my
clean eye, and if I want to see what I’m used to I just look through the other,
for contrast. The conclusion is unavoidable. I’ve been looking at the world for
any number of years through increasingly dirty windows.
The prospect of renewed windows on the
world is another cause for optimism as I look out, literally and figuratively,
on the dawn of 2017. New hip, new eyesight, promises for new work in the coming
year—these are causes to celebrate with optimism, if it weren’t for the bigger
picture of a world, from my point of view, headed down every bad path it can
Back to High School
The prospects I see when I look down
those paths—admittedly, just prospects,
not certainties, for nothing ahead is fixed in time—I see archetypes
of high-school authorities from the 1950s rising up shoulder-to- shoulder before me, roadblocks to the adolescent stirrings in my soul, their arms folded
across their chests in a definitive collective NEGATIVE to all inquiries concerning the whereabouts of Truth and Beauty in their fiefdoms.
All they cared about was jobs. Good
jobs. As a teenager I never found one.
In a moment of truth I couldn’t fully
understood, I checked “meat-cutter”
as my first career choice in a 9th grade preference test. My teacher saw my
choice over my shoulder and said, icily, “Is that what you plan to do with all
No, I didn’t want to be a meat-cutter.
I didn’t want to be anything yet, I
was still just a kid who didn’t know what I wanted to be except I knew I
didn’t want to grow up to be like them—dour, resigned, unhappily employed, suspicious of laughter,
severe on fun, and hopelessly unromantic, fixated as they were on making money
as the first priority for an acceptable way of life. I saw checking “meat-cutter”
as a protest act. Apparently it was effective, for it got under the skin of the
appropriate authority. But it cast further suspicion on my background and
family credentials. My parents were liberals in a county of Protestant
The prospect of those people who once
ruled my provincial childhood world now
taking over our country gives me fear and dread. If they’re true to
form, people will be divided into good and evil. They may not call it that, but
that’s how they think of it. The good obey the masters and cheerfully do what
they’re told. The evil do not fit in and, like drowning refugees, are left to
fend for themselves. They commonly die in prison or car wrecks or shooting
accidents or drug over-doses, outside the purview of the movers and shakers who
make the rules and their docile admirers who follow them.
Rules for Life
These were the society norms which
governed the general culture where I
grew up in the 1950s. They irked me like a burr under the saddle
but I bore them like a Spartan until I came to understand they were
rules for life, not just until I reached freedom as an adult. There is no
freedom for adults in the structured society of our civilization, and there
certainly is no freedom for children.
But some of us thought we were free or
at least there was a chance we could
be, not by making money but by losing ourselves in contemplation of the Oneness
of all being and generating ideas and art forms from our musings while passing
through the culture with only enough money to continue our unique quests.
Now they’re cracking down, just like
high school. Nuclear arms are coming back, oil will be pumped full-speed ahead
again, gas will be fracked, earthquakes in Oklahoma will keep shaking, the wilderness
and the oceans will be auctioned off to business, women will be forced to bear
children of rape and incest as well as mistakes of passion, and there will be
no mercy for black-on-white crime.
And did I mention that children will
go hungry and uneducated, old people
left to languish with the roaches in urine-stained beds, and three-quarters of
Nature’s species will disappear as the chain saw and the fishing net make way
for the ascendancy of rapacious human beings unleashed by unregulated greed?
That’s what I fear is ahead, and oddly
enough the only one who can stop it
is Donald Trump.
A Desperate Hope
So now all is in a delicate balance.
Yes, the man about to be crowned as King of the World, so to speak, is thought
to be on the side of the hard-nosed authorities who resent women and youth and
demand obedience from servants and dogs. That’s true enough.
But he’s not really one of them, as
the others of the 16 overthrown contenders would have been, and with his
credentials so in doubt, even among his
own, the real hope now to keep the uptight fathers out of power is Trump’s
intuitive unpredictability. He could channel great innovative change into the
world, which never needed it more, or block the worst the paid politicians can
do to turn back the clock to white Protestant rule. That may be a desperate hope, but it’s the rational way out to avoid a nationalist take-over of a great idea for a just and prosperous nation by inviting everyone to participate.
So maybe there’s an enlightened tie
between the apparent contradiction of my
personal liberation from long-term physical limitations
and the ascendancy, in my opinion, of an alarming coterie of right-wing
ideologues and zealous nuts. I can’t blame failing health and strength as an excuse
for staying put. I have to participate in the upcoming debacle, like it or not,
because the system cured my ills.
I admit I sometimes wish that heart
attack they fixed in 2008 had saved me
from all this. I would have died if medicine had been the same as 1940,
when I was born. Now I’m less likely to die from heart failure than from
falling off a roof, and I don’t do roofs the way I used to, climbing
like a monkey up to the peak. Hanging from a rafter to mount a theater
light. No more of that any time soon, with my skewed eyesight and still-healing
But am I kept alive to witness this
alarming take-over of the country
by the peddlers of severity pretending to be good Christians with
their Bible open to Jeremiah, not Matthew five to seven? That bit of
hypocrisy is what I don’t get. Judge them by their deeds and see if it’s not
a scary thing to stand by as such a team assembles to govern over us
with their narrow perspective on the world as a wealth-generating
machine for those ruthless enough to get control of it.
Only Trump can stop them. What will
the Emperor do? Which way wave his magic scepter? What stuff is he made of? And
of what stuff am I, now that
I can walk again and see the true colors of the world?
These questions posed by the advent of
2017 are why I write a blog on New
Year’s Eve rather than party with friends, trusting everything is still
the same as it always was. Because it isn’t. It’s better, and it’s worse, and I
don’t know what’s coming, only that I can’t excuse myself from dealing with it.