November 2006

I Will Not Take These Things For GrantedÖ

It isnít very often that someone else is able to put into words the things that I want to say. Iím a stubborn sort and I tend to prefer to spend whatever hours might be necessary to stumble upon the correct formula for the words that I want.

Every so often thoughÖ

Pieces fall into place for someone else and that convenience translates into a few less hours of frustration for me. It may have happened more than a decade ago for them, but the value of words, that is not something that will stand the attempted dictates of time with any sort of compassion.

Nope, when the words work, they just do. Best to shut the hell up and enjoy someone elseís eloquence than try and rephrase what has already been best said.

Sometimes itís just best to let it wash you over and walk away feeling even slightly cleaner than before you started.

I turn thirty in a couple of weeks.

While I have been told by a good number that itís no big deal and that Iím just getting started I canít help but wonder.

Which is something that I think we do not do enough of, wondering, being held by wonder. I havenít done nearly enough of it and if there is anything that I should be getting started on, perhaps it is that.

I wonder at the world in which we live. I am amazed that I live in a country in which the understanding of our political decisions is best understood by a look to the south. I am horrified at the lack of leaders in the world, let alone our country, and I wonder where have all the great men gone?

For the record, when I say men, I mean people, men just sounds a little more fluid in prose, blame several hundred years of literature for that.

I understand all to well that there are countless people who are indeed great, but I find myself asking how it is that our national representation is held by hacks who are seemingly more concerned by the dictations of rogue states than the will of their own people. If they would bother to discover what that is.

I look back on other periods of history and find myself grasping at dreams and ideals that are growing all the more frail and fading with each passing year. I wonder how it is that we have managed to become not only as a country but as a sphere more and more preoccupied by the rules and expectations of others as opposed to the ideas on which our lands our supposedly founded on.

I fear travelling south. With the new laws being signed into effect every day I see a country that holds a seemingly unbreakable sway over ours moving farther and farther from the ideals of freedom. I fear travelling south not because I am afraid that I will be shuttled off to some foreign soil based on my beliefs as opposed to my actions, but because I know that the power is now there to do so, and that there will be those who are torn from their lives based on nothing more than the whim of the powers that be, and that they will never have the chance to defend themselves, let alone know the answer to the simple question whyÖ

I pray for leaders who will do what they can to defy this, but instead I see our country being silently and apathetically willed in the same direction. They say that silence does not signify consent, but I wonder why it is that we cannot find it in ourselves to speak out against this trend, and I fear where it will take us.

And yetÖ

The things that I find the most wonderment in are the little things. I cannot dictate national policy, as much as I might like, but I do find myself in the bewildering position time and time again to encourage those that might otherwise not believe in themselves and dare to challenge and ask questions.

And I wonder at that.

I combat my sinking fear that we are spiralling into something that only precious few can begin to understand by lighting the few candles that I can find. I see that the will to stand for oneself has been systematically exterminated in our youth, and I am lucky enough to be in a position where I can encourage a precious few of them to begin to wonder if they are indeed worth standing up for.

Which of course they are.

I wonder at our lack of kindness on a day to day basis and our capacity to show that kindness on a flip of a coin. I am endlessly amazed by our capacity for good, and horrified by the same capacity of some to choose to ignore it.

A while ago I stumbled upon what I believe to be the closest and most accurate description of the meaning of life. It was written by one of the kindest and most intelligent scribes of our time and it was simply thisÖ

We are to try and make this time that we all share a little less sufferable for those around us.

Or something like that, I may be paraphrasing, but you get the point.

A simple enough idea one would think, but it is one that so many have found ways to ignore.

I have been, for a while now, watching my city decompose around me. Like anything that decomposes there is of course new life that springs around it, but that does not remove that fact that at the center of it all there is a dead thing.

A few weeks ago, my car was broken into in a neighbourhood that used to be a neighbourhood. Now it is a cross between a new and trendy place to be and utter desperation. Initially I was of course quite upset, but now I find myself facing the fact that there is a very real possibility that the person who broke into my car might have needed to do so.

And if that is the case, I am really not all that bothered by it. I am bothered by the fact that the number of people in the city which I call home would need to resort to something like that has only been on the rise. I am bothered by the fact that it is only by a violation of my illusion of security that someone would find the means to get by.

That being said, if it was just some greedy son of a bitch, rest assured I have a tire iron waiting for you.

And itís rusty, get your shots before I find you.

The dead thing at the center of all of this decay is something that I know that I will miss. In more than a few ways. I find myself sounding nostalgic and ďoldĒ, but I remember when this city was a place of some form of kindness, and that has evaporated. Battles that can be won are fought on a much smaller scale, but I have no illusions that we are, at least for the time being, losing the war and desperately at that.

But a small-scale battle won is better than a battle lost.

And certainly better than no battle at all.

A while ago a stumbled across the idea that losing just might be inevitable, but that in no way diminishes the need to fight. I didnít get that from an author, I got that from life. I am glad that I get that now, and I am glad that I can weigh in on any number of fights and not care about the outcome and that does not diminish the passion with which I fight.

It just means that I donít expect anything to come of it.

Doing what is right for the sake of it simply being right regardless of outcome is a remarkably freeing thing.

You can lose with a smile.

Iím smiling a lot more these days. I get the fact that not all of my battles will be won, fact is most of them will be lost as I have a nasty habit of picking fights that are much bigger than I am, but I get to walk away with the satisfaction that I tried.

It is only in the last year or so that I have truly understood the nature of the story of Pandoras box. The bastardized coles notes version of Pandora is that she was given a jar in which all the evils of the world rested. Of course the jar was opened and a variety of horrible things escaped to beleaguer mankind. The last of which was hope.

Which for the longest time struck me as odd.

Hope, one would think, is a good thing.

Well bad news, it isnít.

Hope is a lie, created as far as I can tell, to give us excuses. Hope is an escape from reality and an illusion. It gives us a reason to not act, as we can always hope for a better outcome. What will be will be, and there is no escaping that. The abandonment of hope, the abandonment of the desire for outcome frees us from so much and enables us to simply act on what is right or wrong.

After near thirty years, I can say in full confidence that I am most grateful for the fact that on most days I no longer have hope. I have only conviction. I have only the ideas that I hold dear to act on, and I expect no outcome other than the knowledge that I have indeed tried.

And at almost thirty, with the weight and lessons of three decades bearing down on me, the only thing I can say with certainty, and an absolute certainty is that there is a good and there is an evil.

I may have my ideas of where the cards may fall, but the one thing that I know for certain is that I have to try and play mine for the best in myself, and all of us. I will fail, as I have many times before, but to become distracted by the outcome of those failures and not learn the lessons in them is the only true failure.

I can only try.

As we all should.

And what a world it would be if we did.

And that is certainly something to wonder.

You know where to find me...

Nate@natepike.com