I have not had it in me to write about anything serious lately, especially the current political landscape in America and the decline of our democratic institutions. Hence, the trivial things in life have become more prominent, serving a useful distraction. In fact, it’s all the rage, or so it seems, with news-as-entertainment, social media posturing, network television programming and the like, with insults flying back and forth from so many public figures and celebrities.
My trivial distractions are of a different nature, for the most part. Take toilet paper installation, for instance. I will never understand the wholly improper way some people put it on the spindle, leaving the sheet to be underneath, on the bottom side of the roll where it is more difficult to access, when it should clearly be over the top. First of all, bottom side access leaves it too easy to unfurl itself simply by gravitational pull, while the over the top method stays put. The over the top method makes it more conveniently accessed too. It’s right there. On top. What could be more convenient than that? With the first sheet on the bottom, sometimes you actually have to bend over (ever so slightly is not the point) to find or reach it! And of course, sometimes it’s on the floor, already dirty.
And why is it so irritating to me, this monumental aggravation? This small judgmental inconvenience? To point out it being a First World problem is, well, clearly obvious. My very irritation in all my comfortable cushy life leaves me ashamed, it’s such a trivial, trivial thing. After all, some people around the globe don’t even have toilet paper. What an ingrate I am!!!
The guilt I feel about the trivial issue of others’ improper toilet paper installation does serve a useful purpose however. It allows me to focus on minutia, which distracts me from really addressing the more critical issues in the world – from global warming (sigh) to the state of affairs in America (bigger sigh,) not to mention the media’s total whoring of headlines and content designed to grab our intention, like so much cleavage on a cheap tart’s chest.
But I digress.
The other quite bizarre judgment that has claimed some serious real estate in my skull lately is the use of plastic poop bags to pick up dog’s fecal material from the ground. Yes I acknowledge it is very irritating to be out on a lovely bucolic walk–whether on the street, cinder hiking trail, or sidewalk–then stumble onto, or in, a big pile of steaming crap. The current responsible pet cleanup practice? Use NON-biodegradable plastic bags to pick it up, where it then goes to its final resting place in the local landfill.
Ironically, many of these well-meaning folks, while surely being conscientious in one sense, are anything but, in another! Do they not see the contradiction? After all, there’s a reason some city’s ban the use of plastic grocery bags. Plastic bags don’t degrade. Ever! Stay with me here. So dog owners are picking up natural fertilizing biodegradable organic dog poop and putting it in a bag that is NON-biodegradable, insuring it will survive far longer than if left to recycle into the ground, thereby serving a useful purpose for the ecological benefit for mankind. Why don’t the same cities who ban plastic grocery bags also ban plastic dog poop bags, I ask you??
Do you see why it’s better to focus on these smaller contractions in life than the larger issues at hand? Individually and collectively, we have lost our way as communities and as a nation from the ground up as well as the top down, or so it seems. Everything in daily living has become so complicated, so complex that it overwhelms not just sensibilities but logic itself. We all have contributed to this by becoming so seduced by our conveniences, our comforts, social expectations, not to mention political correctness, that what we perceive as smart and responsible behavior is often quite ridiculous. What appears reasonable and responsible in one sense is insane in another. Context truly is everything and the more we parse or fragment it, the more absurd our justifications become!
I must confess.
I have contributed to some of this insanity myself. I pick up dog poop with plastic bags, unless of course the dog drops his pile in thick ivy or in hard-to-reach trees, bushes or vegetation where it can actually do some organic good and no one will be the wiser! But the larger confession lies not in non-biodegradable dog poop bags I myself use, scooping up otherwise useful manure that will last in perpetuity, but in the utter distraction and denial quality I employ. After all, to really focus on let alone get involved in the complex issues of the day–from democratic decline, to a crumbling infrastructure in America, to cyber warfare (which will continue to go unfettered and further degrade our institutions and social fabric,) is one giant pile of human poop that I can’t even begin to offer realistic, creative solutions for.
In short, there seems to be such an anesthetic quality when focusing on trivial things in the modern age. It seems we have become a nation of sheep, bleating, yet at the mercy of larger unseen forces operating behind the scenes and sometimes even in plain sight. Currently, there are two individuals on the world stage who know this dynamic well and are masters at taking advantage of it, of us! One is Trump, the other, Putin. Make no mistake; both men are dangerous in their way. If it turns out I’m wrong, Hooray! If it turns out even darker days are ahead of us, I pray that a more positive social and political landscape is on the horizon, and that we begin assuming a greater responsibility ourselves, individually and as a collective.