It seems that way, sometimes, like there’s nothing worth saying, and in those times, I usually don’t say anything. I’ve been accused or esteemed as not being involved or wishing I was somewhere else when everyone else around me was talking and chatting up a storm…but sometimes there’s simply nothing that needs to be said, or nothing that needs to be said by me…or anybody else, really. So it’s been a few days since I posted and I’ve felt kind of guilty about that, guilty because it seems that I should be here. I’ve hoped to have something of a regular readership and have hoped that I could maintain some type of stream of worthwhile material…and today it’s kind of dry…not much happening in the old noggin. When I’ve tried to measure my postings against those of my fellow bloggers, the ones that I read regularly, I see that they have several days or a week or more between some of their posts…and some show-up once a month…and they have no comments, nothing shared by their readers…maybe because the readers kept coming back to find nothing there more often than they did find something…and some folks start their blogs with a firestorm of wonderful stuff and then fizzle out and leave us hanging, hungering for what might have been…and there’s nothing there for some reason…and others started out wonderfully and poetically and covered their observations of the minutia of life and the beautiful happenstance or collision of events and thoughts and right-brained or youthful creativeness that was breath-taking and they have become daily rants on their discomfort in life with parents and school and their unhappiness and one even with combinations of words that would make a sailor or miner blush…no offense Noble Sailor…and from a youngster with all of their wonderful and exciting life ahead of them, living in a foreign country with ample opportunities…and my one blog-friend who started posting about a month or so before I did and filled her pages with absolutely wonderful, beautiful, ambiguously personal thoughts and sharings and then one day disappeared and went away…and we/I start to miss them when they’re gone and I check every other day to see if she’s brought it back again…and…anyway…so I didn’t have anything to say for a few days…my last post was about my grandson and what I imagined the thoughts that his dad, my son, had during the rather stressful process…and I’ve read that post so many times over the last few days that anything else almost seems like drivel, insubstantial empty hogwash that isn’t worth the time to type into this journal…so I’ve been dry…uncreative…and wondering.
So I thought about contrasts and perspectives and the things we compare our lives to when we look around at those who inhabit our lives…I wondered about having and not having, the fickleness of fate or the gods who do and don’t do the things we want them to do in our lives…sitting and watching the divisional playoffs for the football season and noting quietly the commercials about donating $10 to the relief efforts in that island nation that was so devastated by the earthquake the other day…let’s give $10, all of us…as we sit in the comfort of our homes and sports bars watching millionaire gladiators or ‘warriors’ run up and down the field catching a ball or slamming themselves and others into each other trying to prevent the other from crossing a certain line…as they show pictures of the homes and neighborhoods that were/are crushed and fallen…and ruined…and I wondered about the woman who called today to complain that her two year-old daughter was pepper-sprayed by our police officers as she carried her while marching in a demonstration against how the local sheriff treats his immigrant prisoners…a demonstration where four people were arrested for assaulting police officers who were trying to physically control the unruly crowd with two police helicopters and dozens and dozens of cops and sheriff’s deputies trying to maintain order…and her baby got pepper-sprayed by a woman cop on a horse…of all the places I would take my two year-old child, I cannot imagine taking him or her to a demonstration march…but then maybe my life isn’t deprived enough where I feel I need to do that…or my family members aren’t in that sheriff’s jail…or something like that…couldn’t she have found someone else to watch her for a few hours? It must have been really important for her to be there, I’m hoping…it must have been really personal, must have really meant something to participate in that protest march…and good for her…good for her and the other thousands of people who were pissed-off enough about something that they spent their Saturday afternoon en masse showing that they were so moved…I’ve never participated in a protest march. What would it take for me to do that? I don’t know.
As I sat in the comfort of my own home and watched the home-team lose a sad contest, I kept track of the commercials that the network showed during the last quarter of the game. Noticing repeated commercials for the same show in the earlier quarters of the game compelled me to keep track toward the end…and the network and sponsors want us to purchase their home, auto, and life insurance, eat their subway sandwiches, drink their various beers, eat their brand of sour-cream, drink their soda because it’s the official soda of the football league so it must be good, use their package delivery company, buy their trucks, use their brand of medicine to fix our erectile-dysfunction so “you can be ready” the same day or every other day or something…which made me think about the beer and condom theft today at work…the guys stole their suds and prophylactics in a stolen car…wonderful…and Burger King tells us that even a grown-man sized baby who was born yesterday knows that their quarter-pound double cheese-burgers are bigger and better than McDonalds’ burgers of the same style…and we were encouraged to watch a show that claims to bring us our nation’s idol…one painful episode and week at a time…and one car company told us that they’ve been environmentally sound and concerned since way back when peace-signs and tie-dyed shirts and long hair were in vogue and another car company told us that the economy sucks so badly that they’ll accept the car back that they just sold us if we lose our jobs…because while the news and politicians tell us the nation is recovering, it isn’t really recovering until every last goddamned one of us is financially recovered…and the dead Michael Jackson’s song about needing someone to trust and “I’ll be there” was used as a marketing ploy by State Farm to tell us that we should trust them and buy their insurance…and the network wants us to laugh tonight with the Wanda Sykes show…and Tuesday night we’re supposed to be in suspense with them as we watch “The Human Target” show which appears to be a rich-guy’s version of the drive-by shootings we encounter in our western and southern city neighborhoods on a near-nightly basis…or we can use a certain broadband 3G or 4G network to talk on the phone and check our email simultaneously or find the capital of Peru while talking to our friend who’s a contestant in a game-show…and we can trust that the particular ‘chubby’ lady really did lose 54 pounds by eating the light menu…the “Drive-thru Diet,” from Taco Bell and so should or can we…and there were 26 commercials in the last quarter of play…and that’s more than enough for me.
Maybe I should have stuck with the first thought…sometimes there’s nothing to say.
We look at the calendar today and know or understand that we are at the end of another year, the end of another demarcated segment of the passing of time, the end of an illusion of something that we have created to guide or note the passing of our lives, and others’. It is the end of a period, a mini-eon, a turning of the earth on its axis around its star, an exhaustion of common moments and days and weeks and months that share our contrived labels.
I took-down our Christmas tree and the other decorations yesterday, marking the official (?) end of the holiday in our household. Our home is now as bare of this seasonal celebration as it was the day before it started. The Christmas CD’s have been returned to their storage place, the strings of lights and garlands and hand-chosen hand-made and picked-just-for-you ornaments and stockings and wreath and ceramic hand-made Christmas tree with the birds as lights resting in the branches and the little teddy-bears that were crocheted and stuffed into the red plastic cups that were also stuffed into the also crocheted stocking boot things, one for each child of Yesterday’s Christmases, all packed back into their storage crates and returned to the garage where they will sit and wait for the end of the non-Christmas season when they will be resurrected, brought back to their temporal lives out of hiding or hibernation or nothingness to once again adorn, decorate, and symbolically remind us of their importance or taken-for-granted-ness that they do as only they can do. Many of our neighbors still have their Christmas lights up and lit and making the outsides of their homes sparkle in the afterglow of that esteemed-as-blessed day that is now part of the past. I think they look lonely, somehow. They are pretty in their own way, of course, but they shine for something that has passed and is past…something that has ended…and something that will be back in the cycle of time, like most things.
The football season is in its final weeks; the playoffs will commence very soon and then end in that glorious display of something that is sometimes wonderful, sometimes good, and sometimes not worth near anything that has been spent on it…not even the moments we took out of our lives to observe it or think about it. I remember watching the final game of this year’s World Series, the one that put the 27th notch on the victory belt of the New York Yankees, the one that kind of seemed like another ho-hum moment in sports history…all those grown and pin-striped men bouncing on the infield in a big group-hug of arms around each other or raised with fists or fingers up and triumphant, jumping up and down in unison with plastic smiles of perceived wonderfulness and greatness…the entire image of which somehow reminds me of a dog humping someone’s leg. Anyway, that was the end of the baseball season, the end of summer…the end of the other team’s dream, their fans’ dreams…of something.
The end of dreaming, our sleep, with waking, facing our lives in their cycles of beginnings and endings, startings and stoppings, commencements and completions…the joy of picking-up a new book and opening it, smelling and feeling the smoothness of its pages and sensing the tiny and barely perceptible ridge of each line of script, and noting the crispness of the binding, the essence of its newness, unread, untraveled, untried, unfelt, and unlived…and a few hours or days or weeks later, when we have finished it, turned the last page and come to the end of the last thought and image of the last sentence of the last paragraph and that final period of the book, we set it aside, return it to the shelf where it was waiting for us those hours or days or weeks ago, beckoning to us for a visit, a journey, a co-existence and a shared life. Its pages are now familiar to us, some marked, some words underlined, some pages dog-eared or crumpled, maybe spotted with a fingerprint or drop of coffee, the story read, felt, and lived, and our lives are different. We have another perspective, another view of another’s view, another experience or life lived from within those pages…and it’s over.
Our children’s Christmas vacation, or winter break, will soon be over, our staff assignments and current work rotation will also end soon, the computers at work and home will mark the hour and date with a final ‘2009;’ we will open and post our new calendars with that ‘2010’ on our kitchen and bathroom walls, work walls, desks, partitions, and may open new journals, pocket and purse-sized weekly or monthly calendars…and make errors on our checks, payroll forms, and the other assorted papers in our lives where we leave our dated signatures to mark the significance of our passing.
While the actual physical substance of matter can neither be created nor destroyed and we understand that it only changes form with its constituent parts and components being rearranged in other forms, we do measure the end of physical items or objects as they move through our lives in their insignificant and momentous states. It is nothing, to us in our everyday lives, to finish a bottle of laundry detergent, a bar of soap, a package of napkins, a roll of toilet-paper, a package of frozen taquitos, a box of cereal, a tank of gas, a ream of paper, a package of razor-blades, a box of dog biscuits, a carton of eggs, a bottle of soda or can of beer, a package of CDs, or a cartridge for the plug-in air freshener…but it does mean something to note the end of a life, a relationship, or other significant existence. In this year that has almost passed, our friends and family members and pets have died, sometimes unexpectedly in tragedy, sometimes after long illnesses, sometimes in almost expected circumstances as they were young soldiers fighting in old men’s wars, and sometimes they passed when they were two months or eight months along and had yet to draw a breath of their own….
Sometimes the things that end are not lives but significant relationships or things or measures of accomplishments or adornments of our lives or homes that come to their expected or unexpected ends. The cottonwood tree that has been the symbolic guardian and watchful eye of our backyard and family events, celebrations, pool-parties, hushed conversations and confessions, and carefree afternoons and evenings is nigh unto death as its top half to two-thirds has withered and died after 17 years. That once beautiful mass of trunk and leaf and branch that would bend sideways in monsoon storms and was so tall that it could be seen from several streets away and housed numerous birds and bugs and offered dense shade in the summer and a golden wash and blanket of leaves to the yard in the fall and winter has passed into its own December…where it awaits its executioner on some unknown and approaching date…and my in-laws’ garage and workshop and hangar passed into a charred and skeletal nothingness on a fiery desert evening that consumed hand-made airplanes and a life-time’s accumulation of tools and lived dreams and celebrated accomplishments…and friendships and relationships and reputations were marred and lost over misunderstandings, deceptions, ill-spoken words, rekindled affirmations of differences in philosophies and world-views, too-personal revelations and fear, self-disclosures meant to validate and encourage that shook foundations of confidence and intimacy with the past.
These things and people and situations have gone away from us in their familiar and everyday forms, but they still exist in our minds and as substance that we might not readily perceive or recognize. Our loved-ones and accomplishments live in our memories and in the pictures on our walls, the stories we tell across the fire-pit in the backyard, around the dining-room table, or in the living and remembering ‘living’ and ‘family’ rooms of our gentle homes…they become the standards against which we measure love and closeness and commitment and desire, the benchmarks for future accomplishments and lived-dreams, the substance for the stories that we have to tell so that we can live and endure our sometimes harsh and un-tender lives. The cottonwood will continue to nourish the grass and other shrubs and bushes in the yard, as well as whatever tree we plant in its stead, as its monstrous roots decompose and reform in their mineral elements as nutrients and sustenance and the other stuff of life.
Some things end and some things continue on their circuits, cycles, repetitions, re-happenings, and re-constitutions…hopes and dreams that expired can be grieved and mourned and reborn…lives and relationships hurt or lost can be gleaned-from and cherished with lessons learned and priorities re-evaluated and commitments recommitted and memories relived in the expanse of eternity in the retellings and re-livings and the passing-on of his mother’s eyes to his baby boy…and it’s another moment and another day and another year that we celebrate and another opportunity to do those things that we didn’t do in the many yesterdays of the past year, to accomplish those minor and major goals and dreams that populate our sleeping and waking moments…and to tell those we love that we love them…that we love them…and we go on….