Happiness

Happiness is my natural state.  Unhappiness, suffering is a choice.  Just common horse sense.  Whatever happens “out there” or “in here,” no one or thing out there decides how I choose to be emotionally, in here.   

I refuse to believe some Cosmic Puppet Master pulls my emotional strings.  Impossible as it may seem, despite physical pain, when someone insults me, punches me in the nose, stabs me in the back, I–only I– choose how I am emotionally!  Understanding there is no necessary, automatic link from internal or environmental insult to mental and emotional pain frees me not to suffer, to be happy.

Fascists

Donald Trump is delusional.  Stephen Miller seems sane and savvy enough to know, no matter how long or hard you beat it, a dead horse will not win the race.  Does his slate of “alternate” electors represent the death throes of a failed Administration or something sinister?  Groping for an answer, “Fascist” sprang to mind. 

In the Roman Empire, “magistrate” or magistrates were the highest government officials.  Their symbol of office was a bundle of rods wrapped with ribbon, holding an ax head, “fasces.”  Carriers of the law, the magistrates’ word was final.  Fascism and Fascist derive from fasces.  Older Americans may recall fasces on the obverse of our Winged Liberty Head dime.

Wikipedia calls Fascism a “far right, authoritarian untranationalism.”  Truth is, Right to Left, Conservative to Liberal, Reactionary to Radical, we are each a Fascist!  We have the Truth!  Why can’t you knot-heads get it?  Be reasonable, do it my way.

Ideologies promulgate through Power, War, Politics and Subterfuge.  My impression is, throughout human history Power, Fascism, was the norm.  Emperors, Kings, Dictators, War Lords and Despots defined and enforced their Law, their Truth.  Far from unique then or now, Adolf Hitler’s and Benito Mussolini’s Fascist regimes stand out.

Drawing on firsthand experience, in taking the Power option off the table our Founding Fathers were meticulous.  A century later, seceding through War was laid to rest.  Joe Biden’s electoral landslide settles our current Political decision. 

Leaving a “stratagem to conceal, escape or evade,” subterfuge.   Ridiculous on its face, Stephen Miller’s “alternate” electors stands zero chance of effecting the election.  Falling back on a cliché, what does Stephen have up his sleeve? 

An hypothesis: Hoping to cement a Right Wing Oligarchy, Donald Trump got a Political foot in the Oval Office door.  Miller’s “electors” are a wedge somehow to hold the door open.

Happily our Constitution, the Founding Fathers’ model, is indestructible.  In the end, conflicted and pained as it may become, Wisdom, Courage and Charity always triumphs over Ignorance, Fear and Greed.  “We the people” remain solid.

Chipped

Karen and I have shacked up for 50 years.  Even after retirement we spent maybe eight percent of the day apart.  Karen shopping, walking with Patty, lunch with someone, checking on the kids.  I delivered Meals-on-Wheel, volunteered at The Dougy Center, ran, jogged, shuffled, walked, finally wasting afternoons at the gym.  Then came COVID!

Since spring I’m increasingly aware of Karen’s twenty-four, seven presence.  Apart from her morning walk and weekly trip for curbside pickup at Freddy’s, she’s always here, laundry, emptying the dishwasher, running the sweeper, cooking, sewing, sitting and reading.

Then my Sweetheart vanishes!  In a tiny house and quarter-acre yard, how does a five foot, ___lbs. lady just disappear?  On losing something, especially a person, my anxiety stirs.  I wander through the house, the yard, no Karen.  Then, from nowhere my little lady appears!

I need to track her.  I considered a three-pointed jester hat with a Christmas bell at the end of each point.  If she was not moving or outside I couldn’t hear.  Those ankle monitors folks on parole wear seem uncomfortable and a nuisance. Then it hit me!  Have her chipped!

You know, those micro chips vets put under the skin of dogs’ necks?  They can track a bear in the woods.  Surely I could get a wristwatch-type monitor, continually to pinpoint my Darlin’!

Monday, I’ll call the vet.

Gettin’ Old

At age eighty-three, something believes my body should feel fifty-three, sixty-three, even seventy-three.  Expecting it not to feel eighty-three is like expecting a river not to run downhill, through rapids, riffles, white-water, eddies and pools, to The Waterfall.

Like stupid, you can’t fix old age.

The Graduate

Slowwitted on matters of substance, like a cow I ruminate.  To appreciate this Donald Trump business, I look back at history and issues I have addressed.  I’d be flattered if sharper minds find my impression affirming.

I understand Trump’s mystique.  I do.  Born in 1937, I lived it.

In the Dangerous Case of Donald Trump a woman is succinct, ” I want my country back!”  American History is a relentless parade.  Which star-spangled float or marching band, which “country,” would our fearful lady have “back”?  Thirty, fifty, a hundred years, 1776, 1492?  Did the folks who met Columbus want their country back?

In “all men are created equal” did eighteenth century, Caucasian, male Planters and Businessmen anticipate women, Asians, Negros, Hispanics?  Seeing the Industrial Revolution impact their vision, would Washington and Jefferson want their “country back?”  Did Edison, Tesla and Ford toss spanners into the cogs?  Would ol’ kite-flyin’ Ben approve Gotham after sunset?  How about a Black President or first generation female Vice President of Indian and Jamaican parents?   

Fast forward.  After a Great Depression and World War II, America breathed a sigh of relief.  From the late forties into latter sixties the Dream was back, better than ever.  Dad had a job, Mom baked cookies, kids in school, Little League and Scouts.  An eight-inch TV in every living room.  A chicken in every electric oven.  A Chevy or Ford in every garage.

(Today, two, three and four car garages hold freezers and a second refrigerator.  Wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling, shelves are stacked with  luggage, blankets, pillows, toys, black plastic bag and boxes not opened in decades.  Honda Odysseys, Ford Fusions and Jeep Cherokees are parked in the driveway.) 

In 1967, “The Graduate” exposed this New America’s “plastic” underbelly.  Cupidity and hypocrisy had infiltrated the Suburbs.  Ozzie and Harriet weren’t really “The Nelsons.”  “Father (did not always know) Best.”  Twenty-one-year-old “Graduate” Benjamin learned sometimes Dear Ol’ Dad hasn’t a clue.  Disaffected Baby Boomers became “Beatniks, “The Beat Generation,” remember?  “Hippies,” Woodstock,  Haight- Ashbury, Viet Nam, the “Counter-Culture.”

Through Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Regan, Papa  Bush, Clinton, Jr. Bush and Obama, America stumbled, sometimes back, mostly forward.  Now a wholly unanticipated, indeed unimagined, force seems intent on dismantling America’s Pluralistic experiment.

To establish his Oligarchy, for forty-seven months our, now Lame Duck, forty-fifth Chief Executive pulled every trick, imaginable and unimaginable, from his black bag.  While some may question their motives, the Founding Fathers’ brilliance again triumphs.  Thankfully, Joe Biden embodies the experience, skill, character and humanity to begin repairing the damage and pull us back together.

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An Older Gentleman (Again)

At age 83 some might refer to me as “an older gentleman,” a generous euphemism for “an old man.”  The expression seems to convey respect.  As if by merely surviving seventy years plus I earned respect.  Growing old makes me no more a candidate for respect than being tall, short, female, male or myriad human appearances and circumstance.  Hanging on into your seventies is luck, making not too many dumb choices, and genes.

Scoundrels, tramps, thieves, crooks, liars, rapists and murderers are proportionally represented among octogenarians as the general population.  If a John Dillinger, Al Capone, the Zodiak Killer, Ted Bundy, Gary Ridgway or Jefferey Dahmer survived past seventy would they have earned respect?  How about Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler?

For some, respect seems natural.  Not by dint of age or physical characteristic, but for helping to make this struggle, this human life, a little easier.  Peacemakers, Healers, Jesus Christ, The Buddha, great scientist and artists, Socrates, Aristotle, Mohandas Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. deserve respect.

But how about the rest of us?  How about a toddler in a swing, a teen hunkered over a laptop, a high school dropout, a high school graduate, a retiree making ends meet flipping burgers as Mickey D’s, twenty-somethings starting a family, working moms, working dads, sanitation truck drivers, eighteen-wheel drivers, farmers, migrant workers, the homeless and imprisoned?  Every human deserves no less respect than an older gentleman.

Respect aside, youngsters seeing “an older gentleman” or matron may feel a not-exactly-conscious curiosity.  “What’s it like?  How does it feel?  You look old.  Do I want to go there?”  As memory serves, Dr. Murray Banks answers, “You may say, ‘I don’t want to live past ninety.’  You’ll say it ‘til you’re eighty-nine.”

Teaching respect has evolved.  Until five or so decades back, kids were explicitly taught respect.  “Do as you’re told.” “Don’t talk back.”  “Don’t sass.”  Curious words “sass,” never hear it today.  Cloaked under contemporary culture and adolescence independence, most of today’s kids pick up respect.  It has to be adult modeling.  We’re doing something right.  Only a small subset of today’s youngsters are blatantly disrespectful; they were there all along.

In my view, as respect’s spotlight dimed, for some dis-respect “diss”ing lit up.  Curiously, gangs and individuals with little are no respect for others take affront at being “dissed.”  It goes much further.  Nations dissing others is war.  If nations learned respect, if they stopped dissing, we would have a far more happy, peaceful world.

Like many words I toss out without knowing what I’m talking about, “respect” comes down to definition, to etymology: “re-back” plus “specere–to look at,” to look back, to see again!  To re-spect people, I must see them again!   Amid the incomprehensible complex mix of genes and environment, amid the physical and emotional suffering, I must continually remind myself, “There but for the grace of God go I.”

Despite mindboggling complexity, the human equation has common denominators.  In secret, we all know them.  If I see through the straw person I crate to the wounded child inside, if I’m not fooled by your charades, your defenses, if I see that we are all wounded, yearning for kindness, for love, not to be hurt, this human existence, this life, would be better indeed.

Older gentlemen deserve respect.  So do you.  So do we all.

The Biggest Fraud In History

In a November 29 interview* with Fox News anchor Maria Bartiromo, President Trump pronounced America’s 2020 Presidential election,
     the greatest fraud in the history of our country, from an electoral stand point.
     And I guess you could build it up bigger than an electoral standpoint—what’s
     bigger from an electoral standpoint?  What is bigger than that?

Among a laundry-list of unsubstantiated allegations, Donald would “like to file one nice, big, beautiful lawsuit, talking about this and many other things, with tremendous proof.”

Great!  Do it!  If Judges won’t listen, Mr. President, take it to The People.  File your Brief on the Internet.  But, be specific!  Show us your “tremendous proof”: evidence, documents, testimony, depositions, affidavits.  Anyone can allege anything Donald, but successful litigation hinges on facts!  Rudy knows that. Or does he?

America and the World are witnessing a textbook case of “Malignant Narcissistic Personality Disorder” confounded by delusional ideation and profound Paranoia.  The implications are alarming!  Pray that stable minds manage The Store until January 20.

*CNN Editor-at-large Chris Callizza offers an item by item fact check of Trump’s latest rant: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/the-40-most-utterly-unhinged-lines-from-donald-trump-s-first-post-el

Balsa-wood Gliders

I love little balsa-wood gliders,
the kind we used to buy for a nickel
and how cost a quarter
or fifty cents.

It seems like magic when they
pause in the air
and dive
and swoop
and glide
and settle silently to the grass
like a leaf
or a feather.

Little balsa-wood glider make me feel very good inside.

I am very glad God made
little balsa-wood gliders
and air
to glide in
and kids
to throw them.

Live Theater II

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more.  It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
Macbeth, Act V, scene v
William Shakespeare

Morose sentiment notwithstanding, the corpus of he who penned these lines is testament to a profound conviction in Life’s significance!  Still, as always, the Bard is spot on.

With props, “business,” and dialog Theater tells a story.  Live Theater uses props, business and dialog.  What’s the story?  

In no small measure props, our “Stuff,” sofas, chairs, tables, clothes, BMWs and Kias, desktops and laptops, cell phones and TV’s, Airliners, locomotives and International Space Stations, define us!

And the “busy-ness!”   We are busy.  Scurrying, speeding, scheming, working, playing, fighting, killing, rarely still.  Blaise Pascal wrote, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” 

Finally, the piece driving Live Theater’s comedy and tragedy, dialog!  We talk, inside and out loud.  We continually chatter.  And we write.  Worldwide, written dialog overflows bookstore and library shelves.  Robert Service wrote, “The Devil grins at these seas of ink I splatter.  God forgive my literary sins.  The other kind don’t matter.”  I like to think writing is my greatest sin.  

Props, business, dialog, but what is Live Theater’s story?  What  hides in plain sight on the chairs and sofas, beneath the strutting and fretting, amid the continual chatter, the sound and fury?  What did Shakespeare and even poor Macbeth know?  What do actors, actresses, artists in all medium work so hard to capture?  What vital, perhaps-too-often-unnoticed piece drives Live Theater’s Comedy and Tragedy?  What makes Live Theater not a tale told by and idiot?”  What makes it worth the price of a ticket?

People matter!  Human Relationship drives Live Theater’s push and pull, confusion and conflict, agony and ecstasy, love and, yes, hate.  What matters, really matters, and is, perhaps ironically, the wellspring of my happiness is your happiness.  Loving you almost as much as my own dear self.

Human Relationship makes Live Theater worth watching and life worth living!

Who Do Ya Trust?

Four years ago, he rejected unanimous National Security Agencies’ findings that Vladimir Putin meddled in America’s 2016 presidential election, taking Pal Vlad’s word he didn’t meddle and his election was valid.  Today, he rejects across-the-board agreement America’s 2020 presidential election was the most secure in history, insisting without a kernel of evidence, this time it was “Rigged,” from inside!  Go figure?