Restraints Are Made For Gnawing


I am honored to be pinch-hitting for Zach this week. He’s off; being made an honest man by his better half. Equal in all ways. Partners in the truest sense of the word. Artists. Each in their own right. A perfectly imperfect matched set. They have always made sense. Now they are married. It’s official. Congratulations to the happy couple.

Over our twenty-plus year friendship, we’ve met only once. Zach and family live in Jamaica Plain, Boston, Massachusetts. I and mine live in an inner-ring suburb of Chicago, Crook County, Illinois. In other words, we are next-door neighbors of the twenty-first century. Our back fence has evolved over the years. From 110 baud modems to today’s broadband connection. From mail doors, .QWK and .REP packets on BBS conferences to email list-serves and instant messaging, we have shared like friends and neighbors. Good times; bad times, sickness and health, challenges and solutions. The eternal optimist and the pragmatic cynic. Teammates. Friends. Neighbors.

So much for introductions…. More background seems unnecessary and boring. If you are truly interested in more, it could probably be arranged…

I’d like to take this opportunity to talk to you about an amazing money-making opportunity… You see, I am actually of European Royalty, in exile. If you just give me your personal banking information and ATM PIN…
It’s complicated…

Actually, I’m here to share some recent, if ever-evolving, observations. That’s sort of what I do. Observe, process and share my take on stuff taking place around us. It’s a branch of the Royko School of Hard Knocks Writing combined with the Play-doh Fun Factory Extruder. My most recent epiphany, in observations of the circus of 2012 politics, is that we are currently infested with a new breed of sophisticated sociopaths. The sociopath thing isn’t particularly new; there have always been self-centered, self-serving popular populist liars in our politics. What is new is their carefully-crafted sophistication that distinguishes them from the rest of us. They presume us to need leadership, while most of us just want to get where we’re going. They’ve put themselves at the front of the line. Self-justifyingly deserving, in some way, to be recognized for their obvious, arrogant superiority.

Both sides do it? They’re equally bad? Equally to blame? Really? This is where the sophistication comes in. This is where the game is rigged to favor the new breed. Getting out front to frame the debate, define the choice; no matter what is actually relevant and important. The Goal: to confine and direct public opinion within a set of limited self-serving choices. Either/ OR? One party has excelled at the approach. To the extent that the “other side” has engaged, they’ve done so in an attempt to play a completely different game. To be fair, the acolytes of the church of conservatism’s forte has been the undoing rather than doing anything. By the record, they still don’t think they’ve undone enough. Even the things they’ve done have been done to cover for the undoing in progress. Switch, shift and shaft. They switched the narrative, shifted attention so to shaft whole new tribes of Native Americans. US!

We’ve come such a long way, in such an extremely short time-frame; rewriting the rules, to suit, as we go. Putting dollar signs on everything. Redefining value and worth to what were previously considered negatives. We’ve gone so far, so fast, that those who dare remember where we once were, and what we once had, cannot articulate or hope to correct the course we’re on. Uncharted, un-tethered; held together by innocent faith, conditioned belief, proximity and inertia. So far off-course, it is as if we’ve gone into another dimension. a parallel universe, a rabbit hole… OPPOSITE WORLD.

You can’t reconcile anything. We don’t have time for that. You will choose from what we have put on the menu. You will NOT have it your way unless your way is ours. Don’t look back at our debris trail. Don’t contemplate the path of our damage. Keep moving.
Forget yesterday, forget everything we’ve left behind, what we have lost. That’s gone forever. You have to strive to be as sophisticatedly sociopathic as is demanded to keep it going. Pause for an instant to reconcile your sense of queasiness, you will fall hopelessly behind. Driving, driven on and on, going to an ill-defined place and time we’d prefer not to visit, where the journey is life as it has been redefined and that life is the journey.

It’s nonsense. We know it. Historically, we are settlers, not wanderers or nomads. We are doers; not un-doers, we genuinely care. We remain where we were, are and always will be. Revolving and evolving. Coping with pain and loss by finding some little joy within. Despite the disorienting wobbles, stumbles, scrapes and bruises. We remain. Still doing what we can, and almost always eager to do more.

I know this to be true because I jumped off. I have a far different perspective. I see the cyclonic swirl and the clouds of dust being churned around. I also see kindred who’ve stepped away from the fray to wait things out. Knowing that the world is round and storms pass. This too shall peter out. Observe. Process. Act.

Today, tomorrow and always; push come to shove; neighbors. Seeking comfort, but not allowing comfort to be externally defined dis-comfortingly. You won’t see or read much about us? We are boring? Maybe so, but we are the stable base upon which folks reach for the stars.