Days poured into words, a time to satisfy thoughts consumed, but a waste to many who will not read—or worse who don’t want to be reminded of mortality.
For words are, if anything, mortal, unable to stand the passage of time; in this world of nanoseconds and instant gratification, how can the written become anything more than an archived record? The printed page replaced by headlines on a screen, stories scanned and then forgotten. Is Gutenberg rolling in his grave, kicked in the side by technology? So, is my time wasted? Would I be better served by working in a food kitchen?
I approach 80; how, I ask, when only yesterday my brother called to wish a happy 40th. Where are you, my friend, how did this happen to us, two young boys listening to the Emerson sinisterly whispering “The Shadow Knows.” Evenings played out with games until we were bathed in sweat, coming home and listening to crickets sing through our open window. It was a world excited through hope and dreams, but we were too busy having fun. Where have you gone, my brother.
It is a question often asked but only answered through dreams. Both raised in the church, ignoring most teachings when teenaged, but always feeling guilty and saying we would change. We fell in love with many things but words gnawed at me for decades before finally submitting. Lady Chatterley’s lover found hidden under my bed and consigned to the trash. Not literature, it was said. No, but it was fun. I learned to love oysters, how I’m not sure, but different was exciting. A bus ride to Chicago, money pinned inside my trousers, watching hoboes fall off the train, my imagination soaring with words.
Now, the cold hardens my bones, the chill stealing my will. Winds blow time down steep hills. Marriages, deaths, they run together. What day is it? Does it matter? Yet, the words call out, pieces of a giant puzzle looking for reason. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—does this imply my happiness? Separation of church and state perhaps being eliminated with the stroke of a pen. But what of separation of state and capitalism---will it be further breached. Will the right to a fair wage as determined by the state destroy a man’s right to own a business? Hard questions. The cold presses against the window. Will we become a society where we ignore a man’s right to exist for his own sake? Or will we say man has a higher duty to the state? Questions escalate in my mind. Will we become a society eager to allow others to think while we silently observe. The cold is seeping under the door and bushing against my ankles. I walk through the valley of the shadow of death and fear the enemy.
As a liberal have I fallen into the trap of ignoring myself for the sake of others? Is that elitism? I will give this thought. But of this I am reasonably certain; I have no opposition to society—indeed I want society to thrive but I would like to see reason applied, where reason is taking facts and applying, perhaps integrating a better word, our experiences, emotions, intelligence to grow our understanding. Reason is not to be used as a club, no more than is the Bible.
People whom I respect say I sometimes talk too much, though the written word comes far easier. In that regard, a strange matter is occurring—age pushes out more words. While I might easily forget which direction to turn, words pile up in my thoughts like cars on a Friday afternoon interstate. Fonts, Times Roman, pixels on a screen, line up as friends. I must be losing m