Saturday, March 22, 2003

Thoreau wrote that most people lead lives of quiet desperation.

I seldom do. I have a life. In fact, most of the people I know, to all appearances, lead good enough lives and spend relatively little time in the self-torture of quiet desperation. They do their work and have their relationships and worry more about meeting the deadline, having their calls returned, and getting dinner on the table than reaching grand goals. Like Voltaire's Candide, who finally decided the sum of wisdom was to cultivate one's own garden, we largely pick a little corner of the world and do what we can there.


For about three weeks, I have not been well. A little cold put me out of the game I had been playing, and it seems that without it, I am uncomfortable in my life. I have not yet found friendships to replace those I left in Portland. I still feel out of step with the smaller town we've been living in for the last two and a half years. I've made some efforts to become connected. I joined a service organization and a writer's group and a health club. I took a class. None of it has brought me again to a place where I feel again that I belong.

I'm tired. I'm tired of pouring myself out, offering the hand of friendship and receiving no return. I'm tired of receiving the critical glances that my mild eccentricities elicit where everyone is so alike. I'm tired of being in the far fringe of the local bell curve, when I was well within tolerance in the larger city. I am homesick, and I thought I was more adaptable than this.

Well, maybe that's quiet desperation. And maybe most people are suffering it.

But I have literature more useful than that.

In issue 8 of Sandman, Neil Gaiman has the very wise Death cuss out her brother Dream for "Feeling all sorry for yourself because your little game is over, and you haven't got the -- the balls to go and find a new one!"

I belong to the most adaptable species on a hugely diverse planet. There are choices available to me that generation after generation succeeded without -- a galaxy, an infinity of new games.

And tomorrow, or even this afternoon, I will find one.

If you haven't already, do check out Neil Gaiman's journal.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

I am in pain today.

It hurts me to know, my country, which I love, is causing death and destruction today. My stomach clenches thinking of our troops and their troops and their people suffering and dieing.

I have not seen sufficient evidence to believe this war is necessary. I do not believe diplomacy had been exhausted. I do not believe that removing Saddam Hussein will make our country more secure.

In fact, I believe this show of American aggression will lead to more hatred of us world wide and more terrorists who will be willing to give their lives to do us damage. To defend against terrorism, we should be improving world harmony -- helping others to feel secure. If they did not fear us, why would they want to harm us?

I looked up the quote "America is great because she is good. If ever she ceases to be good, she will cease to be great." Although attributed to Alexis de Toqueville, this statement belongs to the folk process -- first documented in an Eisenhower speech. Its widespread adoption shows that we recognize an essential truth in it. It is our acceptance of diversity that has driven our creativity. It was the moral high ground we held in WWII that rallied the strongest society-wide war effort ever seen and united our country behind our government.

We hold no high ground here. We are punishing our own diversity with the Patriot Act.

And President Bush, elected by the narrowest of margins under questionable circumstances, can not expect to gain the whole-hearted support of Americans in such a dubious war.

Monday, March 17, 2003

"For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction."

I don't even know who to attribute this to. Maybe one of Newton's laws of motion? I was wondering this morning how people got along without the concept "fractal". "Reaction" is even more basic. Try thinking without it for a while.

Today I had the snow tires changed off the car. They are showing only light wear after three season's use. I'm hoping, by the law of action and reaction, that this also means they have inflicted light wear upon the local roads. The evenness of our Subaru's all wheel drive seems to reduce the wear on them.

I always feel vaguely guilty using the studded tires when there is no snow. We had only light coats on three occasions this winter -- uncommonly mild for the region. So I'm reassured to see their light wear. Maybe I haven't done more harm than I received value. Good.

I also remembered to put on gloves to unload them from the car today. The last two years, I have given myself a bleeding gouge when the tire slipped and pulled a stud across some tender portion of my hand. So I'm learning, bit by bit.

It does appear I over-reacted to Google finding me. Just because people can find me with it, doesn't mean they will. I've noticed no particular increase in traffic here. So I can write on in comfortable obscurity.

(Suddenly glances around uneasily. However, no reaction from cosmic forces to the words "comfortable obscurity" bolts from the sky.)

All right, everything's in order. Back to household tasks -- because "entropy" is a concept I have to deal with everyday.