“It (Life) is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights illuminate, but you can make the whole trip that way.” E. L. Doctorow
It’s a brilliant winter day. I find myself straddling the yellow center line of a blacktop country road for no reason whatsoever except to stand there and experience the silence and solitude it affords. It won’t last. Nothing does.
The road seems to emerge out of nowhere. Its horizon merges back into the pine forest miles ahead. Nothing moves except the shadows of trees the sun casts on the road. It appears alive. All roads are alive. So is the road you’re on today.
We’ve entered into a new solar year. We crossed that threshold seamlessly and found ourselves staring into a dark alley. We get a queasy feeling all’s not right, that the new year is looking strangely like the old one. Not what we were expecting.
The elections are over, except in the minds of some. The vaccine circulates, promises safety. The nation’s Capital is exploited, and we’re identified by color…red or blue. What’s coming down this road? What’s next?
We hear the Laments of Job as he sits on his ash heap, commiserating with his pals of the things that have befallen him. Hear him now, crying into the silent ether:
“The thing which I greatly feared has come upon me, that which I was afraid of has come upon me.” We can relate.
Fearful by nature, we distrust the Fates. We’re sick of sackcloth, ashes and masks. What’s happened to the American Garden of Eden? Any rational view of world conditions, not to mention those of the Universe of Self, would put us on the same ash heap with Job. We live with the constant question, “What’s next?”
We were hopeful to have a Jubilee year, right? A special year where everything’s reset, debts forgiven, the scales of justice equalized, the national debt balanced, and brotherly love is not a commodity for sale. Is this happening in your world?
Confused and conflicted, we trudge onward, ever listening, but the Universal Voice is silent. We watch the needle vacillate wildly on the Confidence Index while purchasing lottery tickets. We live in illusion on the shores of the mythical Isle of Serendip, hopeful for our stimulus ship to sail in.
There’s China on the east, Russia on the west. Us in the middle. Do you feel the vice? Marx is resurrected. Congress fiddles. Putin pushes. Covid reminds us of Stalin’s words: “One death is a tragedy; 20 million is a statistic.”
Our President is in hiding, his digital accounts shut down. Word is he’s secretly forming a yogic ashram in Florida where he will sit in a loin cloth in lotus, chanting om’s, munching on a Big Mac while reciting Lao-Tsu poetry and painting his toenails. Alec Baldwin, his doppelganger, is the gatekeeper.
His presidential library bulges with tweets and TV screens flashing live images of himself, night and day, reminding him of his greatness and how America is great again. Entry fees are charged at the door to defray the cost of post-presidential investigations.
‘What’s next?’ we keep asking as we peer into the darkness of an alley that keeps its secrets to itself. Oh, there’s plenty out there, but why go there? We need another Moses to bring along some miracles, a bush that burns, a sea that parts, an axe that floats and a ladder from heaven. Such phenomena have been pretty scarce lately. We need a restoration of faith.
How would we put into perspective our collective culture? What adjectives would we use? Let’s paint a national mosaic together, a mosaic made of adjectives.
How? you say. Well, let’s make adjectives into pastel crayons, each its own color. Now be a child again, color up each adjective in your own creative way. Let’s turn the tables on Edvard Munch and give him back our version of ‘The Scream.’
Ok, all done. Look at what those nasty adjectives did to what could be a pristine year. Let’s get rid of them. Take a match, burn that disgusting mosaic, scoop up the ashes and bury them under your rose bush. A miracle will soon bloom.
* * *
On the blacktop where I stand I hear a sound. It’s a metaphoric car, filled with hopes and dreams. We are that Moses, that burning bush, that living miracle. “What’s next” is what we will make it.
So, hop in, buy the ticket, take the ride.
January 9, 2021