Wednesday, August 13, 2008

King Canut

Oh, my. I’m sure you’ve noticed that I spend an inordinate amount of time…and the bulk of these blogs…in ranting and raving and waving my arms, and shouting and cursing and oozing bile from every pore. And every now and then I step back and wonder: why? Much as I would like to be appointed He Who Must Be Obeyed, it’s not very likely that’s going to happen.

And just because I rail against all the astonishing stupidity, bigotry, hatred, and intolerance that continuously wash over us all in mountainous waves doesn’t mean I have the slightest control over, let alone effect on, any of them. I’m like King Canut, standing on the shore, commanding the waves to cease. Maybe I hope that by eliciting your empathy, all of us lined up together on the shore might intimidate the tides. Or maybe not.

I am quite good at self-delusion (though I’m sure you’ve never noticed). Being the ultimate egoist, I tend to talk about things which are closest to my core being and insist on trying to foist them off on you on the unproven and unprovable grounds that you might realize that we occasionally have the same thoughts or reactions, though they are not the kind of things one talks much about to others.

I sometimes feel a bit like one of those small crabs which live inside an empty sea shell, which in this case is my mind, coming out timidly only occasionally to bitch about something, then darting back in again.

I spend almost all my waking time writing, either books or blogs or emails. About the only time I have to read for pleasure is while I’m “working” part-time at the information desk of a nearby shopping center, and yesterday I took with me a little book called Another Cat at the Door by C.W. Gusewelle. It’s a collection of totally charming short essays about the author and his family’s inability to turn away stray cats showing up at their door. (I assume they originally appeared either as a blog or in a weekly newspaper column.)

Each self-contained piece is tells a complete little story with grace, humor (and sometimes sorrow), insight, and compassion. Reading them, I wondered once again why it seems to be that my blogs are too often little more than grumpy muttered oaths and complaints. I fear you may…if you have not already…grow tired of being exposed to unrelenting negativity, and wander off in search of happier thoughts.

Mr. Gusewell is not a curmudgeon, and he does not live in a seashell. He spends his time outside, observing the world and others around him, not immersed in himself to the exclusion of the rest of the world. There is little nourishment to be found in feeding entirely on one’s self, but it is exactly what I do.

So I’ve resolved to try to get outside of myself a little more in future blogs: God knows there really is enough good and pleasant things to talk about. And I hope you understand that my apparent unhappiness stems from my soul-deep belief and expectation that people can be so very much better than they are, and my deep disappointment when constantly proven wrong.

So I talk about myself in hopes that I am also talking about you. Maybe enough of us, standing on the seashore, can make a difference. I’d like to think so.

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