Jan 2, 2018
by Tom Austin
Okay, 2018 has a pretty clean slate as you read this. Can’t say the same for 2016 and 2017, who dumped a rather festive load of crap on us. The world seems to be hell bent, pun intended, on going to hell in a bucket. We’re trying to enjoy the ride, but it’s not always easy.
It is natural in trying times to retreat to the personal, to try to let go of things beyond our control and focus on what we can do. This is sometimes distressingly smaller and more local than we imagine our impact would be if, well, if the external environment (by which I mean stuff you read about in the big newspapers, and even at times in small can-do broadsheets like this one) weren’t so challenging. Fixing the world at large can be such a case of twenty steps forward, nineteen back. The arc of history curves toward justice, but it takes its sweet time doing so.
I do it too: I might even be a too-leading exponent of letting the world run on its axis while I try to do good in my local world. The rub of it is, I’m not all that good at even keeping my own row to hoe all that well hoed. I’m sure your world looks much the same to you: those opportunities to shine one’s light in our own unique way comes only after the mundane minutia is satisfied. It turns out that the list of mundane minutia is surprisingly long, and things get added to the bottom of the list faster than we can remove items from the top. I’m talking about real bedrock stuff: Keeping the house warm, dry, and stocked with food, and the inhabitants of said house in a condition to enjoy these things. That is our monthly nut, and it is even easier to run out of time in the month than money.
I’ve been falling down in letting the spare room fill with junk. Yes, my junk drawer encompasses far, far more than a drawer, and today I finally tackled the worst of it, the proverbial Aegean Stables of my humble domicile. This process can be emotionally draining, because I am kept company in my toilings by a nice internal monologue that interrogates me as to how, exactly, I let it get this bad. I have my good points, but on this particular metric I am a terrible, terrible person.
Yes, well, okay, I say to my interior conversationalist. That I am a terrible person today is cheerfully stipulated. Nothing for it but to become un-terrible, one piece of domestic detritus at a time. At some point the self-flagellation gives way to a sort of runner’s high, as you wade into the most direct evidence of your personal unfitness and start stuffing it into garbage bags. This process inevitably ends in one or several trips to the dump, and (at the risk of offending with a vulgar metaphor), I would say that the process is well named, and (however unpleasant the actual process leads to a suffusion of fresh well-being as the stored up negative energy of one’s trash is kicked down the road to be somebody else’s landfill problem. I should probably do my part to help solve that global problem, but..eh. That’s for another day.
Today I have done enough work to enjoy the holiday with slightly less guilt, and to credit myself with the first step of another ten thousand mile journey. Might take a little longer than a year for that one, but maybe I can break the seal on 2018 with the needle moving in the right direction.
Here’s to needles moving in the right direction! Now that my proverbial decks are cleared, maybe I can get out and about and actually dig up some news about things outside my front door. Here’s hoping your needle is moving in the right direction this fresh New Year. Health and happiness to you in 2018!
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