What A Long Strange Trip

I have achieved enlightenment twice and lost it both times.

That’s not the sort of thing I bring up in casual conversation, not because people will think I’m weird– that boat sailed long ago– but because it makes people uncomfortable. That’s why so many conversations end up being about The Local Sports Team and Isn’t It Hot In Summer and Who Here Hates Reality Television Raise Your Hand.

Anyway, when I found it, it wasn’t a moment of euphoria and ecstasy; it was more of a moment of peace and “Oh, so that’s how it is.” And I lost it the same way both times: by trying to craft it into a handy little analogy that I could memorize and share. Forcing it into human terms made it fade away.

The Hare Krishnas call that “blooping,” falling back into the material world after experiencing the spiritual realm. But it’s a tremendous comfort to me knowing that there is an answer, one I’m likely to stumble across again.  It’s like the sun:  even when I don’t see it, I never doubt that it’s out there.  My perceptions don’t alter that reality at all.

The reason I’m thinking thoughts like that is because today is my birthday. That’s a natural time to reflect on what you’ve done and what you want to do.

“Bucket Lists” don’t really work for me. There isn’t a list of places I want to go and feats I want to accomplish. There never has been.

My role model as a child was Mr. Green Jeans, and I haven’t really changed a lot since then. Mr. Green Jeans was a quiet man who wore comfortable clothes and had a lot of friends, both human and animal. That’s really all I ever wanted.

I’m 54 today. I have four cats and a wife who loves me. I don’t have a lot of friends, but the ones I do have care for me and let me care for them.  Right here, right now, things are good.

There’s a few little things I’d like to change, but it’s mostly a matter of scale.  I’d like to meet a few more people and make a little bit wider ripple in this world.  I’d like to learn a few more chords on the ukulele and take up quilling.  I’d also like to overthrow the corporate oligarchy and establish an agrarian-based Communist society founded on the principles of peace, love, and equality– but until a few more people get on board I’m content to leave that bus idling in the station.

Overall  I have been very blessed, and am just happy to be here.

Sha la la la la la

The Evil Party™’s plan will allow insurance companies to charge seniors quintuple what everyone else pays, whereas under the Slightly Less Evil Party™’s plan they would only be charged triple.

Either way, I’m seeing zero incentive to save money for retirement.  Under the auspice’s of either plan you’re likely to die deeply in debt, probably impoverished.

So unless you have some special affection for the health care industry’s shareholders– and personally, I do not– the only strategy that makes sense under this system is to save nothing, live for today, and live the best life you can for as long as you can.

Double D

One problem we’ve had lately is with what I call “Digital Doctors,” both human and veterinary. They want to run a battery of tests, then base their diagnosis solely on the numbers, charts, and graphs they see on the screen.

I’m not saying testing and diagnostics aren’t important. I’m saying they should pay more attention to the patient sitting in front of them.

Fogie

When I was a young man, you could buy a book and it was Your Book.  You could read it as many times as you wanted, loan it to whoever you wanted for as long as you wanted, even give it away when you didn’t want it anymore.  Keep it under your mattress if you want to, and nobody even knows you have a book.

Now we’re moving into an age where everything is owned, tracked, and controlled by a handful of corporations.  You can’t really buy anything.  Give them your money and they’ll let you use a digital copy, under their conditions, for a little while, with the caveat that they can snatch it away any time they want to.

They’re trying to say this is the way things should be, but it just doesn’t feel right to me.

I guess I’m an analog man in a digital world.

If this were a Dickens’ novel, Steve Scalise would awaken and renounce his mean spirited, racist, homophobic past, and work tirelessly to ensure that all Americans have access to the same level of health care that saved his own life.

Sadly, this is not a Dickens’ novel.