Memories on Facebook are something of a two-edged sword. As often as they dredge up something I’d forgotten about from the recent past, they also throw up moments that seem like they should have taken place much longer ago.
Two years ago, the internet was raging about the seating of then judge and now Justice Kavanaugh on the United States Supreme Court. It feels like it was both yesterday afternoon and about 600 years ago.
We seem to be in a long stretch now where someone or another is constantly screeching, rending their garments, or taking to the streets for whatever cause of the day is ginning up popular attention. It’s hard to tell the days of the week in some ways because it has all blended together into one large, continuous mass of demonstrating how we feel.
I’ve long been fond of a phrase I first saw many years ago that says something to the effect of “The Universe Doesn’t Care About Your Feelings.”
The universe is on to something there. I’ve been working hard to tune out most of the extraneous noise in favor of focusing in on those things I can in some way control or influence. I can’t quite shake the feeling that if we all would just spend a little more time tending our own garden, life would be less shouty and obnoxious.
Then again, the universe doesn’t care about my feelings either, so do whatever.
1. Getting in through the back door. Every time I hear one of the Democratic primary candidates wax philosophical about one of their wealth redistribution schemes by confiding to the camera that “it’s a tax on Wall Street,” I look around and wonder how many people really believe that. My reading on their collective plans is that this chimera of making the “big banks and hedge fund managers” pay is ultimately a tax on every working person who has a retirement account. Your 401k, 403b, IRA, or TSP can’t help but be taxed under these plans, because at heart these accounts are nothing more than fractional shares that get traded on a regular basis to keep the fund balanced… and these funds are the definition of big players in the financial market. The Democratic candidates know they’re going to have to tap into huge sources of capital for their plans. I just wish they had the stones to admit that getting it done is going to require levying this backdoor tax on every man and woman in America who’s bothered to make an effort to save for retirement and not just the guy in charge of running the fund.
2. When you can’t even half ass the work. I worked on three things today. Simultaneously. All were a priority of effort… at least to someone. What that really means, of course, is each of them got exactly the level of effort and attention you’d think they got. Instead of half assed efforts, the very best they could hope for was being third assed. It’s a hell of a way to run a railroad. You’d think after 17 years I’d have started to get use to the idea that most days good enough just has to be good enough. Then again some days don’t even rise to that paltry standard.
3. Facebook memories. I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to disable Facebook Memories, because every morning I open the damned app I’m met with the picture of a bulldog doing something alternately ridiculous or endearing. Jorah has done quite a lot in the last six months to patch up the sucking chest wound Winston left behind, but those pictures every morning still catch me directly in the feels. Despite the myriad of issues, vet bills, and costs, I don’t think I’ll ever really get to a place where I don’t miss such a good dog.
I was laying in bed flipping channels last night and landed on Discovery or National Geographic or some channel of their ilk that was showing clips from the September 11th attacks. They say that everyone has a handful of events that are seared into their memory and I guess for everyone above a certain age, that’s going to be one of them that sticks with us forever. Watching it last night felt unnervingly like seeing it happen again for the first time, maybe even worse now, because we know everything that’s still about to happen. The disbelief of watching the first plane strike the North Tower, the second plane streaking across the skyline and exploding through the South Tower, and the few grainy frames of a jetliner slamming into the Pentagon, still bring a visceral, sickening tightness to my chest.
Eleven years later, watching those towers fall still feels like getting hit with a sucker punch every single time I see it. Whenever I walk outside and look up to see a vibrant blue, cloudless sky, I remember… and it fills me with equal parts sadness and rage that such a thing could happen on our streets and in this country in the 21st century. Whether it’s 11 years, or fifty, or a lifetime, I don’t think that’s something that will ever go away. Eleven years gone, and it still feels like yesterday.
I’ve hidden it reasonably well from all except those who have known me the longest, but I can’t deny that at heart I’m the same band geek I have alwas been. I was flipping stations a bit ago and not paying attention, I landed on the local public television station. Not long after, I was surprised to find myself singing along with #24601 in his escape from Javert. I’d actually forgotten that I even knew the words. But there I was in the kitchen washing dishes, singing like a stark raving lunatic. Lots of memories from what feels like a different lifetime. It’s amazing what a few bars of music can bring back to you. But thank the gods that it does.
The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve realized how important it is to hang on to the friends you had when you were a kid. They’re the ones who know where you came from and won’t let you forget it. The ones you cannot see for months on end and effortlessly pick up the conversation like you’d just had a burger at the local greasy spoon the last night. They are the ones who know your secrets and like you anyway. Maybe more importantly, they’re the guys you bled with and who bled with you.
For a long time now, I’ve known that I could be a better friend. The days stream by in a blur of airports and meetings and I realize months have gone by. We’re all busier now, occupied with the commitments of work and family and time has become our most valuable commodity. At the most basic level, I could have spend more time on the phone or sent a few more emails. I could have been there more often on a lot of fronts. Realistically, I think we all know that life isn’t going to be slowing down any time soon. At least not until we collectively punch our last timecard and head to the golf course.
I wish someone would have stopped me years ago, sat me down and made me understand how fast the time would go. There should be some kind of class that teaches you things like that. I don’t want to make a blanket statement and say anything like “I’d love to go back and go to school all over again.” I think that’s probably overstating the case. I would love to go back for just one night, one average night when the whole gang was together. A fire, a half-dozen pizzas, and a house full of your closest friends. I want to go back and see the “god’s eye view” of things and watch it all unfold. It really must have been something to see.
In the meantime, know that I think of you all often. I’m both proud of and humbled by your friendship. I’ve been told I need to stop the mushy posts and keep to ranting, which is a much more natural voice, but I’ve promised to always blog what happens to be on my mind and there you have it, live via tape delay, from Hartsfield International on the evening of July 30, 2007.