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I’m living in the brutality of the now. Not the brutality of the then. Not the brutality of decades or centuries past but now, today, each day the same as if it was a then. But it’s not; it’s now. 

It’s Putin’s brutality at this point. He pushes death like a street corner drug dealer, with Russian customer troops looking for their next big fix, a high they can’t get enough of.

BLOODLUST

“More, more” the killing machines clamor, as if a homing device needed a target before it can be satisfied. In my mind I imagine Vladimir with pointed teeth, growling, blood dripping from snarled lips. Never enough is the cartoon bubble above his head; never enough.

Behind his image in my mind’s eye stands Adolph, the first Hitler, egging Vladimir on. It is an energy force field seeking victims for an end goal. And the goal is destruction, anguished torturous and vile.

BOTTOMLESS PIT

For what? To dominate, to conquer, to satisfy a thirst which can never be satisfied? We watch in horror as the bodies pile up, twisted and torn, unrecognizable to kin and countrymen alike. 

“Never again” echoes in the smoke faintly, mocking the death of now. It is perpetually ongoing, redundant but not made obsolete. Forever and Ever, Amen screech the priests of death. It looks to be an in perpetuity, infinite sort of hunger for death, dismemberment, savagery sort of thing. A bottomless pit!

And again we watch. Helpless? Hardly! The West could do more to stop the madness but for the time being, Putin is having his way with us even as he allegedly loses. He has thrown us down and had his way with us! We are cowed by evil. It is far more frightening than the evil itself in its own way.

TO SAVE A NATION

Zelensky, our only hope for reclaiming our conscience, begs, pleads but Biden and his National Security Council is still too timid. Instead, their presumed rationale for not further provoking the Madman of Moscow is to prevent WWIII. Instead they sacrifice America’s and the Wests’ real power, that of truth and democracy itself in the shadow of Chamberlain.

Consequently, the senselessness continues along with the relentless tears of men and women in the now; The in perpetuity of madmen and presidents who misunderstand the real stakes for humanity ad infinitum.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if the US helps save Ukraine through providing massive weapons systems designed to defend its burgeoning democracy. Yet, we lose our own while Biden and the Dems are distracted, as Republican White Supremacy Extremists march on in our own backyard.

Sigh! (And yes, it really does deserve an exclamation point.) For the last year oftentimes I have struggled to write, uncertain of my emotional and psychological footing. My opinions are lame, (being only opinions after all.) I’m also exhausted of others’ opinions, their precious positionalities suckled close to their solar plexus. Consequently, watching the state of the world and my place in it has been nothing short of confusing. Just when I think I get a grasp on making sense of things, or even one small corner of things, murkiness creeps in.

PERPETUAL CONFUSION

In the past 12 to 18 months people have been born but many have also died. The pandemic has been nothing short of bizarre in its population birth-death cycle. And who knew a virus could be so controversial! Some people feel afraid to not wear a mask out of personal and communal responsibility while others have felt the pandemic is all a hoax, justifying their own self-righteousness. A greater majority of folks (mercifully in most places but not all) feel a sense of duty to mask up for the good of all.

Between the rapid decline in democracy and societal norms, it may be that America is in a death spiral, irreversible in its demise, as certain to keel over, gasping as an individual human body does as it gives up the ghost. The longer all of this chaos and division go on, I do not see how America can recover any more than I can reverse my own aging process. Collectively we are all responsible, having ignored the cancerous tumor born out of deception and lies as if it had smoked cigarettes for two hundred plus years!

PARALLEL PROCESS

As I age, my body is breaking down too, slow but sure. I know in my bones that’s the way of things and yet it seems I fight against acceptance of it. I have never been terribly good at grace under pressure. Even though I’ve had lots of experience of the pressure! My trials and tribulations have been numerous and sometimes extreme, although, in the main, my life has certainly been that of relative ease and comfort. Oh, the drama of it all!

It makes me irritated that I have lost physical capacity—and for all I know mental capacity too. There are things that I do like about the aging process. For example, I don’t care much about impressing anybody about anything anymore. When I watch younger people do it, all puffed up, I can’t help but laugh at myself that I even operated in that mode. It truly is a marvel, and now it seems an embarrassment.

LOST IN TRANSLATION

I have recently moved to another town in Sonoma county, safely ensconced in a tiny house out back, by a shed, on my son and daughter-in-law‘s property. I used to joke with my son when younger to just put me out back in a shed when I get old. By God, he’s done it! Now I get to joke about me and Elon Musk living in a tiny house—just not together! Ha! A stale joke maybe but one in which I still take perverse pleasure. A mixed blessing, this easier downsized life yet with it, an accompanying loss of personal voice and scope. Like Alice in Wonderland, I’m literally and figuratively shrinking!

For years Audrey Hepburn had a very small apartment in New York City, sparsely furnished. She mostly used it as a weigh station, a respite between Africa trips for the UN children’s program that she managed. To this day, I take comfort in her boldness, clearly in full control of her decision. Sometimes, when I’m feeling sorry for myself I think of Christopher Reeves too. How miraculous it seems to me that he soldiered on after barely surviving the polo accident—a whisper of an excruciating existence that ended up a roar, creating something so incredibly positive for others. How brave he truly was.

MENTORS AND ROLE MODELS

There are others. Helen Keller often surfaces in my consciousness. My disabilities pale in comparison. Yet she, along with other heroes of mine, provide a potency—an inoculation if you will—allowing me to stave off a darker grief when recontextualizing my own physical losses. What would I do without these larger-than-life role models? While I wish I could sit in a room with each of them, holding hands and comforting them along with myself, the mere thought of each of them sustains me at times when I have felt the worst.

And so I trudge on, until dis-identifying with the body altogether, resting instead on the buoyancy of spirit.

I weep for America, but I may not always do so. As I watch the twisting and distorting permeate the fabric of our society, I grieve for the loss of integrity in some corners that manipulate communication into unrecognizable fashion.

I weep for America but I may not always do so. Does the fallen angel always know it’s fallen? How bold we began, with all the embryonic promise the New World had to offer. Making our way in fits and starts doing atrocious things counterbalanced by noble actions. 

I weep for America but I may not always do so. Is this the only Way? To rot from the inside, Staggering under the weight of grotesque distortion and lies? Unable to tell Truth from falsehood? Will we go the way of Greece and Rome through so much corruption, glut, brutality, greed, ignorance?

I weep for America but I may not always do so. Is Our way to become like the giant dinosaurs that die under the weight of rapacious gluttony? Cutting out minorities, a foreign tongue, the middle class? Reason? Facts?

Evolution is a glorious and wonderful thing. But why must we watch our own demise as an American democracy, those of us that have at least some inkling that that is exactly what is happening? Yet the pain of it… is there any ability to stop it?

I weep for America but I may not always do so. And yet, and yet… I know evolution IS creation. Ongoing, time is only perspective, an artifact only by which we live. A mentalization by which we watch emergence of new states of being occur.

I weep for America but I may not always do so. To be in the woods, the monastery, at the ocean. Sanctuary‘s, all. A respite from observation that is alarming, unable to impact what is viewed. Other than, of course, recovering the heart of all things, that the universe will right itself, the purgatorial nature that is earth offering a new choice every second.

Ultimately, I weep for America but I may not always do so. At best, sorrow is a temporary state, a moment, a second, an act of moving from participant to observer. A state of being. Like Ecelesiastes says—“to everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the sun.”

It is so.

I don’t even know what day it is sheltering in place. Maybe day 75. Regardless, I have become very bored, increasingly more despairing about a reasonable and sane recovery.

The medical community including nationally renowned experts, has been trashed by the administration and far right troublemakers. The democracy is in shambles, with little to no check and balance on the Administration. 

WARPING THE CONCEPT OF FREEDOM

It’s actually hard to make sense of it all, the decline has become so precipitous. Forget about going back to an old normal. We will be lucky if we can stagger our way to a new normal that’s fair and just and healthy for the economy, the democracy, and the society at large. 

Just like it’s hard to watch a person die, it’s very hard for some of us to watch a democracy die. At best, if it is to survive, it will take years of rehabilitation just like a body would after suffering catastrophic trauma and deterioration.

GRIEVING: THE MACRO

Even though I have some understanding of the pathology of extremism, the resultant degradation of institutions is heartbreaking to witness, a cause for grieving and despair to be sure. 

It is also hard to stay mentally engaged right now since the focus has been so narrowed to stay physically healthy, sheltering in place. We cross fingers and toes in the hopes that we will survive both physically and economically, pinky-promising with eyes shut tight America will be able to claw our way back to reason as well as health.

COPING: THE MICRO

I’ve done some projects around my little apartment. Including some cleaning and culling of sorts. I’ve called and chatted with friends and family, and I continue to read. And write, at least when I’m clear-headed.

My worst activity has been binging on television and food. Oh God, please help me to stop with my incessant palliative mental and physical self-comforting. Remarkably, not only do I know I’m not alone but sometimes I feel happy at the absurdity of it all. I actually laugh. Out loud. 

These are hardly healthy coping mechanisms. Ironically, I seem to lurch uncontrollably between far better palliative care of the spirit. It is this latest impulse that is my salvation, when I can hitch myself to the vapor trail I actually feel hope, joy. It is remarkable, a wonder. And yet…

THE PENDULUM 

It seems I’ve heard it all—from the right, from the left, from the professional uplifters, and the doomsayers. It’s exhausting. Dispiriting. And while occasionally I really do recognize the absurdity of the human condition, generating belly laughs and believe it or not, an uplifted spirit, I cannot seem to stay there long.

The space between despondency and hope is precarious and narrow indeed. Things are so broken, there’s so much ignorance, so many nefarious players, sadly it all seems to overshadow the potential for regaining some sort of equilibrium. It presses in on the heart. Can’t you just feel the tension?

HOPE, ALWAYS

But I trudge on, knowing ultimately in the end, things will right themselves regardless of how long it takes. Just like when a body dies those that are left behind find a way to not just cope but ultimately to survive and create a new life. So too democratic nations that die, staggering into insidious corruption and decay. They will either rise again, be overrun, or discover a new accommodation in the world.

Time will tell what’s in store for our lot in America for tension always stops when it has been spent. I know one thing: the decline phase is not over and I pray on this Memorial Day weekend we can lean into hope both individually and as a nation for better days. And with that, I’ll say a little prayer. Then I’ll go have a cookie (or three) to celebrate.