It’s Always The Other Guy

I prefer not to think of my own guilt or culpability if there’s any way it can be avoided. Surely this is a universal characteristic in my species, but it doesn’t make that admission any pleasanter. It’s lousy enough to think of myself as being quite so continually fallible and messy as I am without having to admit that it’s probably avoidable much of the time, and definitely not something I should just let slide or pretend I don’t have to attempt to amend. Being imperfect is crummy enough in itself, and when I look at my shortcomings and think of what I should be doing to let go of them and, presumably, to repair their damage, it’s more than a little bit overwhelming.digital illustration

It’s all well and good to sit and read a rip-roaring murder mystery novel and cluck with self-satisfied disapprobation at the terrible things those awful people do in it, but if I think I’m all spiffy-clean and untouchably innocent I’m just as deluded as any. I may take some delicate form of self-righteous umbrage should anyone dare to note that I’m not so much better than the petty criminals I love to decry in that movie I just saw, or to think myself piously, wonderfully holier than the lowlifes on the evening news who have done Such Terrible Things I can hardly bear to mention them, but what I conveniently disguise to my own satisfaction as trivial and wholly excusable imperfections might just as well be the crime of the century if they harmed another person or set something in the world off kilter, however indirectly or unintentionally.digital illustration

While it galls me beyond words to see other people painting over their own horrible inward rot with every excuse in the book or, as is the amazingly popular pastime among our kind, by blaming everyone except themselves for whatever’s wrong in the world, I hate to be reminded that I so often do the same. Mea culpa is easier to say than the plain truth of it in my mother tongue: I did it. I was wrong. I am sorry. I will endeavor to make this right. But at some point, whether all of the Other Guy suspects are ruled out or not, my own guilt should find me out, and I should be willing to stand up and confess.

If I don’t, my beloved sisters will eventually remember what I got up to ‘way back when we were small, and will finally tell on me. And I’ll have to admit to everybody that I was really hoping someone else with a slightly itchy conscience would’ve stood up and taken the blame for my stupidity and wrongdoings before I had to come out into the spotlight. Well, I did it. Whatever it is, I’m pretty sure I was the rotten fool that messed up so royally, and I do apologize. The truth of it will surely be revealed. I hope you’ll be gentle with me, as it’s just possible you know how it feels, too.

Neither Truth nor Consequence

digital collageTo capture the kind of innocence that little ones have would be a scientific coup beyond what even our best magicians could hope to conjure. How is it that such jaded minds and dedicated tragedians as adults can be made from the raw childhood materials of clear-eyed honesty and untouched truth and light? As an artist and writer, even simply as a grownup who believes that honesty and reality have far more forms than the dull quotidian ones in which we grownups generally clothe them to fit our fusty adult needs for blandness to feel safe, I search the boundaries between worlds endlessly in hope.

Sometimes I wonder if I have been cheating when I don’t follow precisely that stern old caveat that warns me to always Write about What You Know—that I should stay fixed in the firmament of my own particular universe, my peculiar range and realm of reality. Of course, I know that no beautiful fantasy and very little romance would ever get written by anyone if this rule were strictly adhered to in every way; what’s more, I remind myself as I write that every word I put down on the page is true, just not always for me and my own experience: perhaps it’s something I’ve known of believed or felt, translated into another person’s events, and sometimes it is perhaps best described as true of (or for) another person who herself or himself is not known on this modest three-dimensional earthly and human plane. Anyway, I am reassured that I bend the Rule a little but I never wholly break it; I tend to wander further from the truth only when I must–in order to make the truth of the matter most apparent.digital collage

Please Vote Responsibly

You know how much I hate politics. I almost titled this post ‘Friends don’t Let Friends Drink & Vote’, since it seems like a whole lot of people prefer to find a specific agenda that appeals to them on a visceral level and shape all of their votes around it willy-nilly, without either differentiating between candidates that do or don’t have any power to guide said agenda wisely or, worse, without first thoroughly checking their own facts regarding that particular point item of passion. Mostly, I hate that what I see and hear of politics is the brainless ranting of people who hang out at the various extremes, and very little of civil discourse and logical, reasoned thinking. Nothing would please me more than to believe that every person with the privilege of voting would not only do so, but do so after serious thought and careful consideration and with a certain amount of faith that the other voters and their points of view matter, too. But to be quite honest, I think we (at least in America where I’ve observed it in person, but I gather this is so in many other places as well) are mighty far from this my ideal.

So I tend to shy away from all things political as much, as long and as often as I can.

Yet I can’t help but wish, and sometimes a little peep of this pained wishful thinking leaks out visibly or audibly. Especially around election times. At least, given my particular bent, I’ll keep trying to publicly disguise my whines and rants in slightly more lighthearted forms when I get my own political itch.

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The Vast American Landscape

 

digital image from a photographAs November approaches and the always-tedious white noise of political ravings grows ever louder in the US atmosphere, I find myself musing once again that so little is what we think it to be. Clearly, if you read my post the other day, I am seldom content to accept the appearance as the reality, but it is never more significantly the case than around the time of elections. For all that Americans love to crow about being the truest democracy in the world and having the power to determine our own destinies and that of our nation (never mind our meddling globally), what’s most notable around voting time is how little anyone really does his or her research and how thoroughly gullible, petty and narrow-minded most of us are on our best days. It’s really kind of miraculous that, young as America is in the way of being a nation, it still exists as one. We’re all on our own paths, wavelengths, and possibly planets around here.

And those who rise to power in our country are no less prone to manipulating that sort of foolishness than those we claim to abhor elsewhere. We give things whatever ‘spin’ we prefer and, by golly, hordes of similarly spun fellow denizens jump right into the vortex with us, leaving reason and, ultimately, hope far behind. One might think that the current age of electronic wizardry would make us more aware, if not more cautious, of all sorts of trickery and monkey business, but alas, we cling to our ignorance and wilfulness with just as much dimwitted fervor as always. Knowing that the camera sees only what the photographer aimed it at and the recorder hears only what the engineer had it turned on to hear–and that the results of both operations can be almost endlessly manipulated after the fact so as to be something entirely new and different from the initial truth, however truncated that might have been, we still choose to stand with facing our own chosen suns while right behind us, out of frame, utterly different realities are carrying right on with their appointed happenings.

So in honor of this form of deception, whether imposed upon us or self-inflicted, I give you my image of the Grand Canyon. Or, as it was before a little Photoshopping hocus-pocus, a dirt pile under the freeway overpass, whose ‘magnificent agaves’ are small tufts of grass, whose brilliant coloring is all hand-applied, and whose vast open sky is a digital blanket pulled down to cover the abandoned storefronts looming behind the little hillock. What you see is what I get, my friends. Keep it in mind on the way to the voting booth, won’t you?