Sunday, October 20, 2019

“It’s A Wonderful Day In The Neighborhood”

     Good morning, Gentle Reader. And to those of you who share with me the blessing of having been born an American, please be aware – always – that whatever our gripes about the Land of the Free, we are incredibly fortunate to be citizens of the United States of America. Among the unearned privileges available to the children of not-wealthy and not-connected persons, this one is ‘way, ‘way high up on the list. Just about any morning one awakens to American citizenship is a wonderful day for that reason if no other.

     We do a lot of bitching about various things, we in the Right. And those complaints are largely valid. But let’s remember the good parts of American life, too. Ponder, if you will, this reflection by noted philosopher and social analyst Louis C. K.:

     He has a point or two, wouldn’t you say?

     Yesterday was something of a kickoff day here at the Fortress. My wife cleaned “her” deck and stored the deck furniture in the barn. I prepped the lawn maintenance equipment for winter storage, packed it away, and – sniffle – drove my Corvette Joy into the backyard to store her in the barn as well. Maintenance chargers abound here at the Fortress. Were we without them, I’d do a lot more swearing come springtime.

     Consider it the Fortress’s official First Day of Real Autumn. The air conditioner compressor has been turned off and jacketed, the heating system has been activated, the fallen branches have been minced up and put out for collection, and – be still my beating heart – Beth has taken out the slow cooker and started our first Seasonal Food: chili.

     It’s time to enjoy the colors and the cool weather before the onset of winter. New York State may have some problems – who am I kidding? It’s got a lot of problems – but it has its pleasures as well. Should we ever relocate, autumn in New York is one of the things I’ll miss.

     I’m in a good mood. My health is decent as is my wife’s, the animals are all well and apparently happy – the cats won’t admit to it, of course – the house and grounds are in decent shape, and the bills are all paid. It was a rough year in some ways, but we got through it. It’s time to appreciate.

     Yes, I know perfectly well that appreciate is a transitive verb that demands an object. Whom do you think you’re addressing? But I’m trying to make a point here. That Louis C. K. clip above should be more widely seen – and more widely appreciated for its insight.

     We really do live in a place and time of miracles. Yet from our public discourse it often seems that we spend most of our time and energy complaining. We have all these problems. The schools lack state-of-the-art computers! There are children who don’t have PlayStations or designer sneakers! They don’t have iPhone 11s! The savages in the inner city can’t afford gold teeth or this year’s top-of-the-line GhettoBlasters!® And those poor Muslims suffer so horribly from our distrust!

     What a crock of shit. Yet it’s full to overflowing. Empty it a trifle, and it refills to the brim as if by magic: a steaming pile or ordure redolent of that least praiseworthy of all human mental states: ingratitude.

     We should heed the lesson of gratitude, we fortunate 5% who call ourselves Americans. There are less fortunate others out there.

     I know the above can seem overwrought. Even a trifle sappy, eh what? After all, you’ve got unpaid bills. You’ve got a nagging wife to placate and whiny brats to feed. You’ve got an employer who doesn’t appreciate you. You’ve got neighbors who borrow power tools and will only return them under duress. And the cost of living! My God, the cost of living!

     Okay, I get it. Life’s a hard job. But you’re equipped for that job. You’ve got the tools – and I don’t mean the ones you neighbor is still clutching to his breast and cackling over. Besides, when you awoke this morning and looked upward for the first time today, did you see sheet rock or wood? There were no roots dangling from the ceiling, were there?

     Any day you awaken above the sod is a day of opportunity. A day to appreciate what you have and to make your life better still. A day to renew old friendships and make a couple of new ones. A day to dig the wax out of your conscience’s ears and listen for God’s voice. It would probably sound a bit like this:

Yeah you, asshole!
Be happy, you ingrate!
You’re one of My most blessed creatures!
There are children in Ulan Bator who don’t have any Nikes® at all!”

     You know not the day nor the hour, so make this one count.

     May God bless and keep you all.


Cliffdweller said...

Right on!! I have a dying friend, and I’m going to read this to him. Won’t make him live, but might help him have a better day today. Bless you right back!


Your post about gratitude resonates. This morning my younger child was tantruming at having to go to Hebrew school. Reprising - and apologies if I've posted this before - something I've told them:

Did you wake up in a nice warm bed this morning? Under a roof? In a house that has heat, running water, flush toilets, and electricity? Do you have a tasty breakfast waiting for you downstairs, in a home with a married mother and father? Where we have cars with gas in them waiting to go, and don't have to worry about being shot at when we go outside? Are you being forced to go outside to bring in wood, or work on a farm or in a factory for 15 hours a day?

You're luckier than, probably, 80% of the people alive today and certainly 99%+ of the people throughout human history.

And the kid is whining with tears coming down their face at having to go to school on a Sunday.

There's a Yiddish proverb: "Who is wealthy? He who is content with what they have." And that's part of the problem; we see people with MORE, and are wracked by ENVY (10th commandment). We've forgotten the humbling lessons of perspective of where we stand compared, even, to where our grandparents were. (I have a picture of my great grandparents, along with a few other relatives, and my very young mother, sitting in their home in Israel; I know there's no air conditioning and can only imagine how hot they were. Today, we have AC everywhere. We were in Israel in August... brutally hot.)

That guy in the video was right.

This weekend we'll wash the five-odd pounds of acorns we've gathered to start the process of turning them into acorn flower. Not that I expect this to become a staple in our house, but it's proof-of-concept for the kids "just in case" it's needed. Just as I'm teaching them about edible plants around our yard, and when we drive around I point them out. Goldenrod. Cattails. Young maple leaves. Forsithia flowers. Wood sorrel. And so on. A few weekends ago I showed them how to make a minnow trap from a plastic bottle. In the spring we'll cook up dandelion greens, gather the yellow flowers for inclusion in muffins, and more.

There are definitely times when I hope "the grid" goes down for, say, 4-6 weeks. It'd cause a calamitous loss of life let alone other destruction... but in my more vicious moments I understand it would clear out a lot of the deadwood in our society. Political / CW2 concerns aside, a friend of mine thinks we're due for something to happen that will have that effect.

We have too many people who are ungrateful at the awesome prosperity we enjoy, who wouldn't know how to handle it if the internet were out for a day let alone weeks, who have lost their survival instincts and are dead-set to import third-world savages to virtue-signal how noble they are even as those savages work, daily, to weaken the nations to which they've come.

Definitely, if only in part, time for a reset.

Craig said...

I do my best to be thankful and kind every day. Here in Northern California we just had a power shutoff,supposed fire danger, for 2 days. Quite peaceful for those of us ready for such things. Watching the low level panic and stress was eye opening. We had plenty of food water and ammo.

Sam L. said...

Speaking of "waking up above the sod" I have awakened BELOW the sod (actually, gravel) roughly 270 times. I was an AF missileer.