Monday, November 11, 2013

The Weather Report

The weather's variable so are you
Changes, changes
But I can't do a thing about the weather
Do you have your ticket?
Can you foresee changes, changes?...
A chain of events, a change of heart…

~ 10,000 Maniacs, (About the Weather)

People laugh at me and I’ve gotten used to it. I’m a different sort of character and I know that. My neighbor, John, calls me the hippy carpenter. That’s OK. I help fix his floors and his plumbing. I’m always happy to help my neighbors because I know they care about me too. I’m a different person than I was three years ago.

For 27 years I worked in corporate America. The first thing I would do every morning was to buy as much coffee as possible and then a newspaper, the Chicago Tribune. I craved both very much. When I got to my office, my assistant, Corrie, who I loved very much, made sure there were five others spread out my desk and that there was plenty of coffee. The papers were the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the Christian Science Monitor and the LA Times. It was imperative in my job that I stay informed. I was a director at a very large medical association but not even thirty years old … just beginning a career and learning how to be a father.

I used to try to do everything by myself, because that is who I am. One day I was making copies of a plan and when I went back to my office, Corrie was sitting in my chair with her feet up on the desk, reading my papers. I asked, “What are you doing?”  She said, “If you’re not going to let me help you, I’m just going to sit in here and read your papers….Frankly they’re boring.”  I laughed and said, “I get the point.” She asked me, “Why do you read all of this stuff?  I just stick my head out of the window and I know everything I need to know.”

I haven’t seen or talked to Corrie in many years. I don’t know what happened to her after she retired. I am now fifty and I don’t read the newspapers any more. I get all the news I need on the weather report or sticking my head out of a window.

The news that I crave now is about my wife and my children. It is about my friends and their families. I used to be so wrapped up in politics and now it doesn’t matter to me with the exception of how it affects the way my family and my friends live. I only care about them and that I am allowed to live my own life in the way I see fit to do it.

The other day I was walking downtown and a young man tried to give me a flyer for some political cause. I turned him away and he shouted at me, “Don’t you care?”  I turned back and said calmly, “Yes, I do care. I care about ideas, not paper. Look down the street.”  The sidewalk was strewn with his fliers that people had taken and dropped. I asked, “Can you explain to me how this is making an impact?” I can be a real jerk when I want to be.

I think that is the essence of how I feel these days. I think words have their place and can be very powerful but I am tired of empty words. I’m tired of people sharing specious stories on social media sites and thinking they are changing the world. Especially, when what you post is nothing more than an endorsement of your own opinion. I think posting something like that and then claiming that you are a political philosopher is the equivalent of me putting something in a microwave and calling myself a gourmet chef.

I dislike most of all is how many message I see that clearly not borne out of intelligence but out of anger and hate. We used to be a country that had pride in the fact we were a melting pot of people with different backgrounds and different perspectives. We are not anymore. We are a nation divided among many lines and that disturbs me. There is no longer such a thing as respectful and objective commentary or discussion. I am afraid this house I love will not hold.

This is why now I don’t read six papers a day anymore. The way I look at it is that my wife is happy, my children are healthy and successful, and I have fun writing, drawing, and walking my dog around. Small children named August and Lockhart come to visit me with smiles. I greet and hug their parents. I think about how fortunate it is that my life now revolves around art, literature, and music. I think about how much I appreciate my friends. I think about love a lot.

Today, I’m thinking about the men and women who fought hard to make sure I have the freedom to do what I do. They are blessed.

Every time I look out on the little postage stamp of the earth that I live in it looks better and better. The paper can’t begin to convey this, nor in this time do they want to. It’s not good business. That’s alright. I get all the news I need on the weather report.