“I’ve Run Away from Politics; it’s Too Bizarre at Home”
–with apologies to Jimmy Buffett
There are going to be riots in Baltimore, more refugees from Syria to Greece. England will stay in the European Union because independence costs money. There is a sit-in by our elected officials because some of their colleagues think it is an infringement of rights to withhold the ability to get a gun from people suspected of being terrorists; people SO suspected of being terrorists, it is against the law for them to fly. Putin will flex his strength in Murmansk later this summer and Assad is going to be “displaced.” The Cubs will lose, the Mets will lose less, and David Wright is not coming back. Neither is Tiger. And Sharapova; she isn’t coming back also. Too. Either.
Student enrollment in college will continue to tumble, not because of financial aid and not because of a growing economy providing better jobs out of high school, but because students just don’t see any benefit to being here over not being here. That valley of “hope” and “possibility” we climbed toward in decades past is now saturated with insecurity, pointlessness, redundancy, and impatience.
This morning I went for a walk at the boardwalk like I do every Tuesday and Thursday morning. On Mondays and Wednesdays I walk four of five miles near the amphitheater near the college. On weekends I walk along the river. I love to walk. Sometimes I see fascinating sights, like the eagle on my house, or the deer always gathering in a neighbor’s field, or pelicans—dozens of them—flying single file just inches off the ocean, following each other like tethered hikers heading up a slope. I have finally passed the point where I care how far I walk; distance is no longer an issue and my endurance is fine. Just the other day I walked a dozen miles without really thinking about it. Now I am limited only by time, or like this morning, storms.
And while I’m out there my thought process had been very predictable. The news would still be swimming in my head and I’d go from being pissed off at the hypocrisy and simple-mindedness of both parties dealing with basic issues they’ve politicized, to deciding I’m going to write about it. Yes, dammit! I would say to myself, “I’m going to go home and get out an editorial to some relevant paper or magazine. I’ve done that before with my essay “Sliced Bread,” or “Apology to the Citizens of the World” during W’s days, to a right-leaning rant about the lack of responsibility in a Dutch newspaper and how sometimes “freedom of speech” is a burden some can’t handle, to slamming the network which aired the first season of Survivor and calling them on their claim it wasn’t scripted. Bullshit! You can’t tell me that…sigh…well, anyway…that’s what I did years past, hence the morning doses of Lisinopril.
And I walked along the boardwalk this morning and thought how in times past I would be formulating a letter about this and that, when it started to rain. I walked out to the water and took in the vast Atlantic and thought about George Carlin’s famous quip in retort to those who say the government doesn’t know what it is doing and the planet is dying. He said, “The planet will be fine! Humanity is fucked.”
Nature wins, and that is why I stopped reading editorials and listening to political pundits and watching West Wing, and instead started walking more, reading Thoreau and Muir. I think I’ve finally reached the point where I don’t need to know what is going on and I certainly don’t need to comment on it—I am no one at all with no qualifications, and I am simply one simple opinion of three hundred and thirty million in this country. Further, who would disagree with me at how majestic the ocean is?
It isn’t an attempt to remain ignorant, and it isn’t bowing out of the political process. It is finally finding my place in this writing world. It is a small world, by the way; we run into each other time and time again in various places, and it feels so much less stressful to show up and talk about dolphins rather than immigration problems. I don’t have the energy or stamina for unsolvable battles. With nature, however, I concede, and as a result we get along just fine, thank you.