With astronomical precision and meteorological permission, sunshine came over the ridge behind my house. Across the Sound a storm is kicking up whitecaps and obscuring the Olympics with a mist. The two made a rainbow to start my day. How much is that worth?
The storm’s center has not arrived. Within a few hours it will come and go. My friends in southwest Canada will feel the strongest energies from what a local, prominent, and entertaining meteorology professor calls a Pacific Hurricane. They’ll see winds much higher than those that are scattering the loose contents of my carport into the neighboring vacant lot. I’ll chase them down later. It will be windy here, it is windy here, but I won’t complain because I know that I am protected by place. Mountains and a turn in the storm’s path diminish the impact on my life.
That’s true of America in general. We have a privilege of place. Despite any border issues or trade disputes we have with Canada or Mexico, we are fortunate to have good neighbors. Our other major borders are massive coasts with oceans for moats. Maybe that’s why we beat ourselves up so much. Old countries on more fractured continents have histories of feuds and conflicts based on squiggly lines drawn across varied terrains. Cultures and societies are arbitrarily splintered. They can point fingers across a line and complain about those “others”. We tend to point at ourselves.
(Oops. There goes the power. Switch to batteries as various devices beep on and off around the house. A minor interruption in service.)
We can be a conflicted people, especially if we’re left to ourselves. Maybe that’s why we over-react to any threat.
I’m tired of it. One way to get me to tune out is for someone to start a conversation, or a presentation, or a sales pitch by drawing lines, borders and distinctions between “us” and “them”. This isn’t just a reaction to Americans or within America. It’s a human tendency. Everyone get to play. I probably do it too, but I don’t like it.
If you haven’t noticed it before, I am an extreme, independent moderate. I am convinced that the answer is in the middle and that no political party or general philosophy has the monopoly on truth or a panacea for ills medical and social. Maybe standing in the middle, or at least the middle as I perceive it, makes it easier for me to see that “us” is really “US”. There is no them.
My task of balancing life and money is persistent. It isn’t continual. I have to sleep sometime. It means though that I treasure time. I’ve had much more money than I do now. I suspect that I’ll have a lot more eventually, maybe soon. Time is different. I don’t want to waste it. But I am amazed at how much time people spend finding labels and camps to mentally organize those around them. Undoubtedly I do so too, but the biggest impact I see is when others start a conversation about “them” in which I don’t see a distinction. Paragraphs are spent negotiating populist boundaries rather than dealing with an issue of celebrating an event.
Liberal & conservative. Gay & straight. Young & old. Black & white. Ignore the media and it becomes easy to step back and see that they are not absolutes. Political values are not endpoints. There is an axis for every issue and positions can change with time. I think some unions are vital and some are anachronisms. I think some corporations are immoral and some are surprisingly sensitive. Gay and straight? Listen long enough and find that that continuum is infinitely diverse. Young and old aren’t only broken up into generations, or years, or days alive. Know any teens acting like they’re thirty? Know any seventy year olds that are childish or childlike? Black and white confuse me because I get analytical about it. We all have a common genetic heritage so how can anyone claim to be 100% white, or 100% black, or 100% anything except human?
Ah, but the battle of the sexes! Men & women. Nope. Rewrite men and women as their chromosomes: XY and XX. You missed a few letters. XXX, XXY, XYY all exist too. How many sexes do we really have? How much of all of our debates are cultural or habitual instead of biological?
Balancing time and money isn’t always about the numbers. Efficient use of time isn’t always about schedules and plans. I’ve found free time by accidentally forgetting names and associations. Maybe I’m alone in this (I am single, hmm – pause – keep typing Tom and think about this later), but I try to see people are people, a person as a person. I can honestly ask, “So, what’s happening with you today?” Of course I have preconceived notions. Someone coming at me with a raised fist and snarling is going to get a label of whacko, or whackee. But usually, most people, even ones that slap labels on themselves, are individuals, even if they’ve temporarily made themself subordinate to an arbitrary group identity.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to finish this and post it because the power has, at least temporarily, come back on. There’s no time to waste.
Where’d that rainbow go? Gotta go chase it.