On This Day

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Part 1: Nutrioso

“Hey, are you guys packin’? Because there is a lion back up in there.”

Not every day in the field starts in such a way. In fact, I have never had a field day present me with what amounts to such a very curious choice. I have encountered bears in the field, but always when already out and the choice then is really how to navigate the known. The choice this morning was, make like the hunters (who were obviously packin’) and vacate the premises, or, turn an old adage on its head and succumb to curiosity…

We opted for the latter, but no cat was there to see. That, of course, is not to say that there was not in fact a cat there, sneaksy as they are, but if it was and it saw us, it left us to our work. Alas.

Not that I wanted to get mauled by a catamount (though they don’t call them that here), but rather, I have wanted to see one in the wild for as long as I can remember. I hear tell they are about, though less so here than further south, but nary a sign have I seen.

No, we went about our work. Though I will say that while normally, when in the field, I spend more time than usual staring at the ground – being a fundamental aspect of the job – on this day, I frequently scanned the surrounding environment… high and low, and was only slightly surprised when the 2 bull elk hauled ass up the hill (for no obvious reason) on the other side of the small valley below us.

So yeah, no lion. Did see some neat artifacts though.

Part 2: facebook

Awhile back I opted to remove the facebook app from my phone in an attempt to lessen the fits of disgust and consternation it frequently caused due to the near constant barrage of commentary on current events. Similar reason why I have been avoiding the news of late.

But, I still check the damn fool thing on my laptop nearly every night, primarily to check the “On This Day” section, because without it I cannot remember what happened on this day for the last however many years… that is why I put it on facebook right?

The other primary reason is to see what the people I know, but essentially never communicate with otherwise, are up to… Essentially my social life is an abstraction of grasping at fleeting memories and cyber stalking distant friends, on this day, and most others of late.

Sigh.

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A spoonful weighs a ton.

I. Spinning Wheel

Sitting here, as I am, in a chair that has ended up here, in this place, by unknown circuitous routes, beneath a fan that has been turning nearly nonstop for the better part of a year and a half, pondering the meaning of the phrase used as the title for this post. It came to me as I contemplated the small, earthenware cup, the likes of which I tend to employ when only wanting a bit of wine as opposed to a whole glass (knowing all the while that this is charade, fooling whom I know not), that had but a pittance of wine remaining in it. It posed the question of whether or not I would have more wine and attempt to write, or succumb to other, less immediate forces and retreat to bed. There was but a spoonful of wine remaining, yet the decision seemed weighty…

As it happens, the phrase is the title of a song. Props to those of you that know it.

Some days it seems that life comes crashing down over you, like a wave unexpected. Not terrible, nor destructive necessarily, but… disruptive, or at least alarming. Some days take you places you did not intend. Some days leave you pondering the usefulness and longevity of a spoonful of wine, or the blades of a fan, turning relentlessly above you, gathering dust and grime. Some days end up a train wreck of the above and leave you tangled and beaten, an unintended consequence of circumstance and the best you can hope for is that there was no collateral damage.

There is something melancholy about that fan, grinding away above me, keeping the air in this ridiculous little house, so out of place in this place for one who tries to see the place with different eyes, moving. It grinds away, spinning, turning the air that is so dust laden and dry. It is ceaseless, the task unending. No direction, no point really. Spinning wheel.

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II. Knowing the path and walking the path.

I read an interview with the Dude, wherein he describes a labyrinth that he mowed into his lawn and which he commonly employs as a meditative device. Sometimes he dances through it. He illuminated readers, such as myself, on the difference between mazes and labyrinths; the one is confounding, with dead ends and confusion and the point is to find the way out while the other poses a simple question… to enter or not.

We do not get to choose whether or not we enter life, we awake to find ourselves within it. One might even question if “we” can even be separated from “life”. We do however, I should think, get to choose to approach life like a maze, frantically scrabbling through the dead ends only to get out of it, or conversely like a labyrinth, whereupon having already entered, we might choose some days to dance.

The Boy fell ill today, sudden onset of an ear infection we were to learn. I spent the day with him at home. He slept mostly, but in his waking hours, I was simply there for him. I wanted nothing else of the day but to give him peace, knowing that he was not well and more importantly that, not having much control over the maze his life might seem, I might show him that even in times of duress, one can dance… or at least abide.

Alas, the day was interrupted by work, as so many are, and so, when the Boy slept I labored. I did not heed my own advice nor intent, and the few hours that were given over to work, poisoned me. Most days are not that way, but when they are, they are tumultuous. One of the dogs nearly paid the price for my weakness. She escaped with having to endure a more familial-like reprimand; held firmly to the ground being violently growled at. You see, when I first acquired a dog-friend, I was told, “to get them to take you seriously, treat them like a dog, not a person”. That is, “GRRRRRR” says more when said earnestly, than “NO”.

And in the end, I ponder the second spoonful, disgusted that one part of life can bleed over so much into another, yet thankful that yet another was unaffected. The fan still spinning above, tomorrow looms and I question whether maze or labyrinth, longing to dance rather than face another dead end.

 

An Unexpected Perspective

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My mother was born in Germany in 1943. Her father was a soldier in the German army. She was the eldest child of 4 and in the early 60s sometime the family emigrated to Canada. Sometime before that she met a man, a member of the United States Air Force that was briefly stationed in Germany. At some point following the move to Canada she traveled to Illinois to reunite with said man and they were, at some point, married.

I know almost nothing else about that part of my history. She never spoke to me much about this part of her past. She never went back to Germany. We rarely went to Canada.

In regards to my grandfather… truth be told, I hardly knew the man. He died when I was fairly young, just barely a teenager if I recall. As I said, he, and that part of my family, lived in Canada, while I grew up in Illinois. I have very few memories of him, but I generally recall that, to me at least, he seemed a kindly gentleman. I have no idea whatsoever his political leanings or ideologies. I know nothing about his time as a soldier, other than that he was part of the German Army in World War II. I suppose to many, that would imply that he was a Nazi, but I have no evidence to inform on such a claim one way or the other. I would say, that I think to suggest that all German soldiers in World War II had such leanings is nonsense.

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I do not think about Nazis very often. Hardly at all in fact, outside of watching movies. And then there is the madness of current events.

I do not generally think that much about immigration policy. But again, the madness of current events.

I have thought a bit more about the concept of Nationalism, and in general think that it is deplorable, in whatever form. I have no sympathy for patriotism, as I see it existing as a variant of Nationalism. I have little regard for ideologies and religion. For essentially the same reasons. Racism. Sexism. Same thing. Farcical constructs meant for a singular purpose; to create division.

As Peter Gabriel once sang, “How can we be in if there is no outside… Not one of us.”

I am the youngest son of a German-American immigrant, whose father was a soldier in the German Army in World War II.

As I have noted, I have no window into the mind of that man. I have not the remotest sense of what he might have been fighting for all those years ago and so far away. I do not know what brought him to move his family to Canada. Based on the people I do know from that side of the family, being his offspring, and theirs, I cannot fathom that he would have in any way condoned the madness of current events.

I am able to sit here writing this now, without fear of reprisal, because one ideology won out over another, and World War II came to an end. Concurrently, a man that fought for the losing side, was able to travel to another country, one that was part of the winning side, presumably in search of a better life.

I wish I knew more about that part of my past and it saddens me that I am now subject to pondering it in light of the madness of current events.

As I write this, the Boy plays happily nearby. As some of you reading this know, he was adopted. For whatever reason the Wife and I have not been able to have our own. We were chosen by a young couple that felt we would be an acceptable option as parents for a child they felt they could not support.

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The Boy is technically of “mixed race”. His birth mother was of African American descent. We live in a place where not long ago, such a thing was illegal. People fought and died to change that and, to a certain degree anyway, one ideology won out over another, and segregation came to an end. But we all know that is not the whole story, especially in light of the madness of current events.

I am just one person trying to make my way in the world. My general preference is to keep my head down and go about my business, trying not to concern myself overmuch with the affairs of others. Nor give them cause to concern themselves with me and mine.

I have never been to Charlottesville. Never really given it much thought at all. Amazingly, in pondering it these past few days, and the events that transpired there as a sort of summary of the madness of current events on the world stage, I am dumbfounded at how much those events have direct bearing on my own reality and existence.

What this says to me, even more than I already accept as true, is that we are all connected in this madness. These events effect all of us, and through the arc of history, such events are bigger than any one singular person. We must look past our own thoughts and opinions and consider how what we think and say and do figures into that arc. We are all in this together and division always has the same result. It makes everything smaller, fragmented. Broken.

I want the Boy to be able to live in a world where everyone has the right to exist; as they are, as they want to be. The madness of current events would suggest that we are heading away from such a world.

We cannot go backwards. We cannot continue to divide.