Monday, January 02, 2017

New Year's Eve 2017

Waiting for the Ball
To Drop

          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 pleasure!
          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 green.
          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 find.

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 your brains?”
          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  fundamentalists.
          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 hip.
          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.


At 6:43 PM , Blogger sydney shenk kissinger said...

I often think, too, about the responsibility of good health, a reasonably comfortable home, and a functional mind. I am ready to put the pedal to the metal this year and do all I can with what I have to stand against a return to dark ages - the era of making America great again. The post truth era. Hard to believe our country has come to this in the waning years of my life. I willl reach out to the youth and the person in the next bar stool whether at the coffee shop or the pub. I find myself becoming more and more extroverted as I use my natural friendly nature to find new friends and share my experiences. I am so happy you are doing well, D, and able to blog on New Years Eve, 2016.


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