Two Inspection columns arrive on your digital doorstep, one today, one tomorrow.
Looking back: overall, was this a "good" year?
As it seems is the norm for many folks, my mental vision seems fogged by the worst of the worst. Though there may have been a lot more good, the worst days continue to throb painfully like a thumb slammed by a hammer.
Something bad always seems to happen around my birthday. So this year began with having to put my collie down. About 16: very old for a collie, with dementia, Alzheimer, severe back issues and then a flipped stomach: it was time. But that didn't mean the decision was easy, or that everything that happened that day doesn't still haunt me.
Then, like seeing different patterns in mere paint splatter, it didn't stop. My first girlfriend died from diabetes, Robin Williams killed himself, Joan Rivers, a freak accident took out a Beaver River local: Bill Brewer, and a fellow homebrewer, Mike Semich, had an aneurysm... leaving his new wife behind.
That's not all that happened, but it was too much even if that had been "all."
Closing in on 10 years ago my father-in-law died. My best friend from my last years in public school died, and... well... there were many more. When my father died in 88 the story was the same. And I remember my brother-in-law, Chris, commenting at the time, "What is this, the year of death?"
On a debate forum I love to visit: Volconvo.com, I started a thread once about how bad things seem to come in bunches and a poster commented that it really doesn't mean anything, "It's like paint splatters on the floor. We think they all have some singular, collective, meaning, but maybe they don't. Throw down handfuls of different shades of paint and you might find the same thing."
A slight, sardonic, smile settles on one side of my worried frown when I realize some "modern" artists in my lifetime have made millions doing exactly that.
I understand the human mind searches for patterns. This is how our intellect grows, how we create, how we invent... and too often a reason for war, committing genocide, for torture and why we burned "witches" and "heretics."
But why... oh why... is it so damn hard for us to see the good patterns far more plentiful than the splatter? They're may be plentiful, even during the most dire days. But our focus, too often, is drawn to the worst. Yet, I look back at my life and the worst moments seem to sadly shade even some of the best of times. Perhaps this dates back to our early years as a species; our brains looking for warning signs: protecting us by being more aware, and remembering, when things go, oh, so wrong so we will endeavor to pick a different path.
And then there's so many people who make make boatloads of money, gain more power, by inventing bad meaning in patterns that may not even exist and using some bully pulpit: a microphone, print, the internet, a camera, to draw our attention to it. Even though, to use a rather tormented cliche': "there may be no there there."
Obama haters do it with everything Obama.
Bush haters with everything Bush.
Talk show talkers use the darkest colors available to paint bleak, corrupt, portraits of anyone who dares to disagree with them.
Yet all this: even my darker perceptions, may be not much more than like mere paint splatters. What those paid to make us hate insist we blame someone for may be no more than how it all came down: fate. Or, if we must blame: Loki, Satan, pick your fav from pantheons of preselected villains we are told we can blame, so easy to blame. And, of course, it may simply be who they want you to perceive at fault, all for partisan, and too often greedy, selfish, reasons. How insistent they often are in pointing any direction but at themselves. Sometimes it's all a bit too much like the possessed, the replaced, in The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
This coming year I hope, I pray, I plead, that we all see more clearly the good patterns surrounding the bad ones, and accept more of the sad, the unfortunate, ones as just "the way it came down."
And move on with more hope into the New Year.
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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