This is just a compendium of small matters that together amount to … a small matter.
Are you alive?
I am 72. I cannot believe how much time has passed, how my childhood is now so far away, and how various events in my life which I thought significant are now ‘distant’. I am not yet old in any sense other than the body does not keep up with the mind. When I went under the knife for surgery on my ankle, they gathered information on me, other surgeries, personal habits, all that stuff, and most importantly, what drugs am I taking? The answer: None. I take an occasional sleeping pill, but that is rare and mostly I don’t even think of it as I fall asleep at night. Other than that … nada. The reaction I got from the young lady at the orthopedic center, who does this for a living and whose clientele are mostly older folks like me … “amazing!”
Here’s how I have avoided all those poisons in this aging process: I stopped seeing doctors, that is, the ankle needed fixing, I had a hernia that needed repair, and I have Dupuytren’s Contracture, and for each, I needed a surgeon. That is all over now – well, not quite. Later this month I am having cataract surgery on both eyes, but that is a minor affair with major outcomes. I will have “monovision”, or the ability to read with my left eye, and see distance with my right. No more contact lenses, no more glasses.
I do not know how rare or common it is, but some people can do monovision, some not. Our eyes feed us data from the world, upside down of course, and our brains interpret that data. I wore monvision contact lenses for years, and loved it, as I could both read and see the world clearly, my brain organizing perceptions in a manner that made perfect sense. Then came the cataracts, and I could no longer read without reading glasses. A year ago I was advised that cataracts were on the horizon, and last October was told by the same people … they’re here. Because I was so successful with monovision contacts, the eye surgeon decided that was the way to go with surgery.
I cannot wait. What I am told is that I will again see white, that colors will be more vivid, and there will be only one drawback – night driving might be a problem. I rarely do that.
So, there are some features of modern medicine that are very good for us. The ability to repair things that go wrong with knives … look at me! Age 72, still active. Later this year we are going to hike the Pyrenees, and after that another trek in the Dolomites.
It helps that we can afford this – I went to my 50th class reunion (don’t, if you think it’s a good idea – it’s not!), and was the only guy there who had traveled, seen the world, kept fit (there were a few others on the male side who still looked young), but most importantly, had advanced intellectually and mentally. Why did I go back? I asked myself that … well, maybe to see Mary B, who in high school was the prettiest girl in the class (don’t tell Nancy D I said that!), and who is now overweight, just like all of them, that having to do with estrogen. But beyond that, she was a delight, happy and smiling and joking. I never had a crush on her in high school, as she was out of my league, but people are as people do, and she was happy and healthy. For her alone, the reunion was worth the trip. For the others, not.
As to the others … I won’t be an asshole and say I looked down on them or felt superior, as I am not. I just chose a difference path, often no more than bouncing off rock in a stream. I married too young, but with aid of a therapist in my early forties, got out of that marriage, and have not looked back. I awoke, but am not “woke”. More on that below, but found that the people I like and admired in high school largely stayed in place. Class President Jerry VV is a total asshole and jerk, and Dick S. who I thought a friend, was boring. Mick S is someone to avoid, someone Jerry Seinfeld warns us about, a guy who thinks he is funny, and isn’t. Very common.
We make our own paths. Most often, people settle in and live small lives, never challenged to do ‘out with the old in with the new.’ For some reason, I think largely having to do with a man entering our home in 1987 and raping our eight-year-old daughter, I was knocked off course. I did not think in the straight and narrow. Changes began to rumble in me, the therapist and the divorce not the cause, but the natural outcome. I found myself alive and alert, found that women liked me and that I could travel in better circles, abandoning the old “friends” and making new acquaintances, one or two of them real “friends”. I was alive. I was …
Woke, or Awake?
Who thinks up this stuff? It’s like this thing we are all aware of now that someone called “camel toe.” Who noticed that? Who thought it up? Now we all repeat it like we are original thinkers. None of us are! Lorne Michaels, the TV and movie producer, loves comedy and says that there are really only 900 truly funny people on the planet. The same with original thinkers. There are maybe that number of them too, and I am not one. I just have to live in my head.
Being “woke” is a canard, something that people imagine true about themselves that has no basis in the real world. The term did not exist when I was in my late thirties, after the rape of my daughter, but in a sense, I became not “woke.” but more awake. “Woke” implies that someone has transcended into a higher state of being, but that is not at all the case. Growth is a slow process, and we never arrive at our destination, only approach it.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,But I have promises to keep,And miles to go before I sleep,And miles to go before I sleep.
That poem, by Robert Frost, has always moved me, as the repetition of the last line is about our inevitable death. That is what poets do, impart information without saying it outright. But this is my message to anyone thinking themselves “woke.” You’re not. You’re just an example of another concept, Dunning Kruger, where unwoke people do not, cannot know they are not awake. Often it is interpreted to mean that stupid people cannot know they are stupid, due to being stupid, but that is cruel. What I take it to mean is that we are all on a sleepy path, and sometimes tragedy or other events interfere, and people wake up and alter their course.
In my own life, I was raised to be Catholic, conservative, right wing and humorless. I would have stayed on that path had not the 1987 event intervened. It changed the course of my daughter’s life too, in ways we can only imagine from a far distance. But for me, it altered my course. My first big move was to quit the Catholic Church, and then the Republican Party. Finally, I quit my wife, and my family was left without an anchor. I did my best, but they drifted, far more influenced by her than me. It was their free choice. They no longer speak to me, even as I am a nice and caring and thoughtful human being. Their mother saw to that. She’s very clever.
If it were today, I would imagine I was “woke,” but I was not. The Republican Party was out, so I did what I now call “the bounce”, and joined the Democratic Party. I met some truly awful people, and a couple of really nice ones. I ran for office and got pummeled, and I quit in disgust and became a Green. I read everything Chomsky wrote that was not about linguistics, and repeated his thoughts as if they were my own. I admired Ralph Nader, and walked the neighborhoods of Billings, Montana carrying a petition to get him on the ballot. I thought it mattered.
It did not. Nader was in place to capture people like me, so well organized is our political system that there is no escape. In the 2000 campaign Gore was set to debate Bush somewhere, and Nader attempted to step in. He was arrested in the parking lot.
No, he was not. It was play acting, Nader was, like Bush and Gore, just a player. I really imagined I was woke in those days, but was not. I was just being played.
Today “woke” people are attune to racism, feminism, and climate change, and other stuff. I am very happy that black people and all the other colors found their voice, and now more than ever get to be part of our lives in so many capacities. It was always up to them. I am happy that women have choices now they never had before, and it was always up to them. It just took time. (I wish my mother had choices back in the 1960s, as her life needed changes.) Climate Change is bullshit. The “woke” generation needs to open their windows, look around, and see that the climate is not changing. They need to wake up.
We all have miles to go before we sleep, do we not?
Miles to go before we sleep.
11 thoughts on “Wokism and other stuff”
“(don’t, if you think it’s a good idea – it’s not!)”
Please expand on this…? ☺
1) You can’t go home again, and 2) opinions we form about each other without interactions in later years do not change. The same cliques formed then still existed, exclusive and off-putting.
“Lorne Michaels says that there are really only 900 truly funny people on the planet.”
So how come over 50 years he’s hired only about four of them?? 😉
(Real name Lorne Lipowitz, btw. Born in Israel.)
He’s probably Ashkenazi Jewish, said to be the smartest people on the planet. I wish him continued success.
He surely faked his name (and origin?) for a reason, is all I’m saying.
And what percentage of producers, writers, and performers hired by him over the decades were admitted- or crypto-Jews? That would make for a fascinating write-up and commentary.
…what drugs am I taking? The answer: None.
Same here and I also avoid doctors like the plague. They have gotten pretty good at fixing mechanical things like you said, but I avoid their tests and drugs at all costs. And they still make us wear masks to see them here in Oregon. No thanks.
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What drugs are they taking in Billings and at the Pentagon?
The U2 Spy incident happened during a Summit between the US and USSR in Paris. Khrushchev then walked out of the affair. It’s all about t-t-t-timing. This is probably a staged event too.
I’m sorry, I have to laugh again and again and AGAIN.
You are to the Right of me on climate change. If that is not funny to anyone who knows us, I don’t think anything ever has been. Every single time I read you on climate I Just. Can’t. Stop. Laughing.
God truly is the Best Comedian. (I mean, I’m not “socialize the economy” Left, but I am Bjorn Lomborgue-ish on climate matters). I know I’ve mentioned it before but dammit man, that is funny.
Well, sorry for the time between communique’s: health is as health does. Turns out I’m more blessed by God than I thought.
I’m going to go read your other stuff and tell you off or something Nostalgia man, it’s a bitch. No one debates me any more.
Your comments go to moderation due to a first-time rule, which is a nice boundary. But you are not first time, and are welcome here, of course. Be patient. There are no restrictions on you that I can sort out.
I like Lomborg, by the way. I have temperature records for the lower 48 on hand for the last 100 years, and a bit of warming is indeed going on, since 1860 forward as we topped out of the Little Ice Age, but nothing to go apoplectic about. The glaciers come and go, but their going is not a big deal. Warmer is better in terms of human well being. Greenland ice cores offer a nice summary, far more reliable than Mann’s Hockey Stick nonsense. This too shall pass, that is, the sky is not falling, yet again. No more than in the 70s when a new ice age was upon us. But I do think we are looking at a cooling future, the end of the current interglacial inevitable. Thankfully I will not be around to endure it.