6/28/20 Motivation in Interesting Times

I am not motivated. Having retired, I have easily slipped into the mode of having no responsibilities, nearly resenting any intrusion into my sloth. Summer has its own agenda, though, and the grass, which must be cut, cares little for my sloth, forcing me into action. It is this time of year, with the heat, humidity, and relentless grass, that makes me long for the coolness of fall.

After a series of unfortunate events beginning in November, 2018, we seeing a return to normalcy at my home, if that word can be applied in any way to the current times. I won’t list the unfortunate events here, except for the tornado of April, 2019, which wreaked havoc on the properties and buildings of Timberview Lodge. The brief visit of the tornado caused us much distress, and the last remnants of its mindless malevolence are even now being put back in order, or at least to the new order as it will exist from henceforth.

My granddaughters, who have stayed with us through the Covid isolations, had a sudden loss thrust upon them with the untimely death of their father from a pulmonary embolism. David Lauderdale, while playing music with some friends, just fell over, dead. He died doing what he loved. They said their final goodbyes to their father last week.

We are caught up in an ancient Chinese proverb, living in the midst of interesting times. This generation has not lived through a pandemic and we are learning as we go. Other nations seem to have a better handle on dealing with the pandemic than our own, but I fear that is an illusion, too. There are things that seem right, but time has proved them to be less right than we had hoped. Conflicting announcements and proclamations from agencies we trust to have the answers have not been helpful. I do know that we cannot just shut the economy of the world down and wait the pandemic out. That has its own set of problems, perhaps greater than the pandemic itself.

I don’t think this is the time of greatest incivility among people who have political disagreements, as we have not yet had major armed insurrections, but the possibility of those darkly loom on the horizon. We are watching history re-written in stark disregard of the Orwellian warning that he who controls the past controls the future.

There is one thing of which I am certain: There is nothing that my old, male whiteness can contribute to the dialog of racism in America. I am a Mississippian. The name Mississippi is even a part of my stage name. Everything I might contribute is, in the eyes of others, tainted with my Mississippi experience. I will continue to refrain from political commentary, though that is not to mean the world will be deprived as there seems to be no dearth of comment available.

I will comment on this, however. Our traditional news sources, always slanted no matter what the source, are in the midst of a big shift, with the likely possibility of news organizations as we know them becoming increasingly irrelevant. Their irrelevance is reflected in the steady demise of the printed press, cable TV, and broadcast news. In their throes of agony, the mass media spins headlines with blood and guts, hoping for more hits. Newspapers? Few read the news anymore. Newspapers are to media as Kodak is to photography. There are now many thousands of news sources, not all of them good, with each news consumer choosing those sources that reflect their own views, thus leading most to think they have the truth of situations because the news they choose reinforces their preconceived notions. I am steadily drawn back to the quote attributed to Jonathan Swift, “Never mistake the voice of a single London ale house as the voice of the kingdom.” The kingdom often has views that fail to coincide with the unity of the voice coming from our particular ale house. Men generally don’t take their refreshments in places where patrons ardently support things to which they are diametrically opposed, looking instead for camaraderie; they’d rather drink with those who toast the things to which they can cheerfully raise their glass.

It could turn out that Covid-19 renders all political disagreements superfluous. Things have changed, radically, in the last few years. They will change even more radically in the future, coming like birth pangs with increasing frequency and intensity. What will be born is not known to me. It is not known to anyone else either, but there are those who would like to steer the direction of change into paths they have selected. This has been true in every time of instability.

I would really prefer to write something funny, but I have no funny in me. As the world turns increasingly topsy-turvy, I am drawn to comedians from a simpler time. I have rediscovered Ed Wynn, a true pioneer of television, who remarked that television is the next big thing. “I am glad to be in television,” said Wynn, who went on to say, “Because television is going to continue grow until it completely replaces entertainment.” The television, and its children, our hand-held devices, the new television screens with its ubiquitous news sources, have just about replaced legitimate entertainment as news has become entertainment. Comedy, if it is to survive, must avoid the opprobrium of the cancel culture. The comedy of the Vaudeville, radio, and early TV is not stimulating enough for us. We have become too sophisticated for Ed Wynn, Buster Keaton, Red Skelton, Jack Benny, Jackie Gleason, Carol Burnette, and Lucille Ball. They are relics from another time, all rubes to be laughed at for the wrong reasons.

Modern comedy has always poked at politics and stereotypes. The Cancel Culture will kill that. Even today, I read but have not confirmed, that after several days of media mal-attention of old comedy skits showing him in blackface, the Jimmy Kimmel Show has been cancelled. While I am not particularly fond of Jimmy Kimmel, I did not want his show cancelled for something he did twenty years ago. The network producing the show would lose if they kept him, and will likely lose by getting rid of him. It is lose-lose-lose for Jimmy Kimmel, Kimmel’s fans, the employees of the show, and the network. Who is the winner? Where is the victory?

Nostalgia produces nothing but a longing for something that cannot exist any more. I like old clothes, old music, old books, and have a fascination with history that I cannot let go. Nearly everything I admire is rooted in yesterday which leads me to the realization that I, too, am a part of yesterday. I have no vision of the future, and as history is erased right before our eyes, I am reminded of Santayana’s admonition, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” That will be our fate as a nation, as a people, if we, as a people, allow this to continue unabated.

That is enough for today. I am posting this here because I can control the trollish comments that follow on social media. Trolls are in control of our lives. Everyone is a pundit, needing, it seems, to comment on everything appearing before their eyes, needing, it seems, to be right about everything. Me? I am not right about everything. I may not even be right about most things. But I can be persuaded. It is the duty of others to persuade me. They may fail, but they certainly won’t get anywhere with the trollish non-arguments that seem to be everywhere.

I recommend everyone get their own space to comment on things they think worthy of comment. This one is mine.

Best regards, everyone. I hope to be back on my regular writing, soon, with motivation, and with an update on my CLL journey.

©2020 Mississippi Chris Sharp

Update 6/30/20: Yesterday, I spent six hours on the mower. I mowed everything that could be mowed, leaving only those places that need the tractor and bush hog. It is beautiful today, lush, green, smooth. Next week, it will need mowing all over again. But for now, the work is done.

3 thoughts on “6/28/20 Motivation in Interesting Times

  1. To feel good/positive about what’s going on at this point in our daily lives and our country’s history you would have to be out of touch with reality or really, really ignorant. All the values, institutions, principles and history that have made this a great country are being systematically undermined, attacked and ridiculed. Stay strong …

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