Some days this just describes the whole shebang:
Time to count backwards, slowly, in German, from Dreihundertsiebenundvierzig, then reconnect.
Yep. Some days the world is like this.
We recognize that color. We know where it comes from and what it smells like. We’re pretty sure the world looks like this because we’re over our head in it.
But there’s that little bit of light up there. Maybe we’ll move that way and hope that it’s someplace better.
I’ve always been more than just a little bit of a news junkie, even long, LONG before the Internet and FaceBook and Twitter made a 24/7/365 fire hose of information available at our fingertips.
When I was a kid it was mostly about the space program (we were going to go to the moon!) and baseball.
The first time I remember getting truly immersed in the news in general was high school. Somewhere along the line we had a class or a program where we could get the New York Times delivered to school every day for some ridiculous price, like $1 per week, and it was part of what we were studying for some social studies class. As a result, I was reading it five days a week and also had a core group of friends and classmates who were also reading it. There was a lot going on in the early 1970’s – Vietnam, Watergate, the moon landings, Nixon in China…
Then I went to Annapolis and that training served me in good stead. As part of the program there to train midshipmen to be able to react and think under pressure there were daily requirements to have memorized by breakfast a whole slew of things from the morning newspaper. Lots of it was sports related (you had better know the score of the game for the favorite sports teams of your company’s upper classmen!) but you also had better be on top of the major news stories of the day.
Going through Plebe Summer will make you a news junkie at a subatomic level!
In the intervening years after Annapolis there was college and marriage and kids and all of that adult stuff to deal with so for a while the obsession with the daily news faded just a bit into the background. It never disappeared, but it migrated down the priority list to somewhere lower in life’s daily Top Ten.
Then came the Internet. And FaceBook. And Twitter.
Along with all of the current bullshit that is US and world politics, which simultaneously leave me wanting to never, EVER hear about it again while also keeping VERY close tabs on every detail I can because I want to know what existential danger is coming at us next.
There are those out there who ignore all of that. I’ve met people who barely know who the President is or what the fuss is about – and they don’t care.
Ignorance = bliss, or so I’ve been told.
Perhaps, and there are most certainly days when I’m a bit jealous of that worldview. But, to quote the punchline from an old Hudson & Landry comedy routine, “I couldn’t live like that!”
So when the alarm goes off at 07:00, the morning news comes on. Social media and emails get answered, and the headlines and a few key Twitter accounts get monitored periodically through the day. When I have an hour or so, it’s often dipping a toe into that firehose of information.
Is that healthy? Maybe – maybe not. But I can’t cut it off cold turkey and not look at all, any more than I could go driving while wearing a blindfold.
But if the news cycle could get just a bit less insane, if we could take the batshit crazy down a couple of notches, well, that would be great.
I’m thinking that about 90% of the population could get behind that request.
I wrote a few weeks ago about wisdom from the science fiction classic “Dune” and the famous quote about fear.
I’m not sure that the fear which inspired those comments has passed so much as it was always there and I’m passing through it.
It’s not a trivial distinction.
The former concept is passive – just endure, hold on, survive, and the fear will pass through you. The latter is active – move yourself through the fear, one step at a time, until you come out the other side.
The former leaves you with little agency or control. The latter is empowering.
The former can leave you feeling like a victim or survivor. The latter can lift you up to feeling like a conqueror.
I’m not through it yet – many adventures lie ahead. But I’m finally to a place where I can start to embrace the coming adventures instead of dreading the perceived ordeal to get through it.
I also hope the next time (there’s always a next time) I can remember that the anticipation of that perceived ordeal turned out to be much worse than the actual ordeal. And having come through what I hope is the worst of it, that I’ll remember the feeling of success and accomplishment that can be waiting on the other side.
Ideally it would be best to somehow have that memory of success (let’s call it “confidence”) deeply ingrained at a cellular level. But I’ll settle for having my head remember it, even when my gut doesn’t.
It’s sort of like a colonoscopy these days. In practice, the procedure itself is a piece of cake compared to the day of prep leading up to it. And the anticipation of the prep once you’ve done it once is far worse than the actual prep. (Which is not to say that the prep doesn’t totally, 100,000% suck.)
Lesson noted. Possibly learned.
Time will tell
I might be doing that wrong.
But it would explain a lot.
As discussed from time to time earlier, the lessons learned in training for and running marathons need to be remembered when not necessarily running a marathon in the literal sense, but most certainly running one in the figurative sense.
Some times you run slower than you planned, but you keep running. Some times you can’t keep running, but you keep walking. Some times it’s simply enough to stay on your feet until things improve.
It’s easy to get discouraged with so much to get done, so little obvious progress, so little rest or sleep, and so many frustrating things just waiting to spark anger.
Some days, just getting through it has to be enough.
Tomorrow’s another day. Maybe it will be better. Maybe it will just be another day to stay on your feet. Or maybe it will be a day you get knocked down and just want to stay there.
When you have to be, you’re stronger than you know you can be.
Hardly PhD level insight.
However, this evening I had the “joy” of fixing a toilet and while doing so I pondered the meaning of “joy.”
There is NO joy in repairing a toilet.
I’m sure there are some among us who would invoke “a sense of pride in a job well done” or some such bullshit. Perhaps. But that is not “joy.”
No, the closest I can come to feeling good at all about twenty minutes spent on repairing a toilet is that we can be truly miserable if the toilet remains broken.
So, in repairing the toilet, we avoid those hours, days, and (the way my schedule looks right now) the potential for weeks of dealing with the inconvenience and mess and misery of a broken toilet.
But – joy should be more than simply the absence of misery.
We need working toilets in our lives. And tonight, at least in Casa Willett, we have them.
We also need some joy in our lives. The more, the better! That, unfortunately, might be a bit more rare and elusive.
I hope you’re being more successful in that pursuit.
Being really tired at the end of a long, exhausting week can leave one…vulnerable.
The rabbit hole of the internet and Google searches and Wikipedia and IMDB and all of it can be strong on someone in a vulnerable position.
Which can lead to learning…things.
Start with an innocent Hallmark movie with Danica McKellar, who is cute and smart and has a most interesting and diverse background outside of acting, so I sort of adore her.
Which led to the Oracle of Bacon to see her Bacon Number.
Which led to learning that she also has an Erdös-Bacon number, so of course I had to go see what an Erdös number was.
Which led to me realizing just how freaking rare it is to have an Erdös-Bacon number!
Which led me to find out that she has an Erdös-Bacon-Sabbath number (ESB) of 10.
Which led me even further down the rabbit hole to find out what an ESB is.
Albert Einstein has an ESB of only 8, while Danica McKellar has a 10?
So what’s Brian May‘s ESB? A man I consider to be a god walking among us!
Finally, a question that appears to have no simple answer in a Google search or two.
But it’s obvious that his “S” number is 1, since it’s easy to find references to a recent collaboration with Black Sabbath.
And Oracle of Bacon says his “B” number is 3. (Via Joe Walsh and John Candy, “The Strat Pack,” “The Blues Brothers,” and “Planes, Trains, Automobiles,” obviously!)
So can we track down an “E” number for Brian May? Apparently it’s a 7.
So Brian May, lead guitarist for Queen, astrophysicist, demigod, has an ESB of 11.
While Danica McKellar has an ESB of 10. I wonder if she knows?
And if Danica’s ESB is 10 but her Erdös-Bacon number is 6 (E=4, B=2), then what is the “S” that’s a 4?
Apparently even THAT isn’t a questions that can stump Google tonight.