Tomorrow I turn 49. Not a milestone birthday, but a messenger of sorts. A foreshadowing.
As far as it goes, I’ve done well in the last year. My fitness has been on track, I started a new job in the fall, my family is all still living, my partnership is loving, and I’ve put a fair amount of writing and objects out into the world. If I find myself anxious these days (and I do) it’s not because of any lack in my own life, but because the socio-political winds are blowing in the wrong direction and I am not able to prognosticate the future. But then I remind myself, it was ever thus, and there is no period in which humans have been free from calamity or suffering and why should now be any different?
One of the weird coincidences in my life is that my birthday and work anniversary are only a few days apart. As of February 3rd, I had worked for my employer for 24 years which is half of my life. I’ve been thinking about how much I identify with that role lately, specifically as it relates to people in my Facebook feed spewing conspiracy nonsense, not to mention supporting the current protest in Ottawa. While I don’t believe that government does everything right/makes all the right choices, I have grown impatient (angry, really) with the implication that myself and people like me are working in concert to actively harm our fellow citizens, neighbours, and family members. Because for someone to believe in the conspiracies being promoted out there, that is literally what they have to believe, not to mention the fact that nearly every doctor, scientist, and academic must be in on it as well. Whether it is 9/11 or anti-vax, to believe in conspiracy is to actively despise the civil service, or at least some quarter of it. And while I aspire to detachment, I’ve started to take that quite personally.
I am a big believer in the right to public protest, and have participated in many a demonstration in my life. I believe citizens should let government know when they are dissatisfied with policies or are seeking redress, and I’ve always felt that a demonstration outside my workplace is a sign the work we do is relevant to people, enough that communities seek change or inclusion in process. Where things veer off course for me is in demands that democratic processes should be discarded in the face of big trucks, that government should abandon programs or policies without plans for new ones that take all people into account, and ultimately that fascist views should be included in “the tent” of ideas for consideration. If anything is worrying me on the eve of my birthday, it is this.
On the weekend I read about a California couple who got snowed in at their mountain cabin on December 6th, but only recently called for help as their supplies dwindled. I suppose they were used to being snowed in and were just waiting, figuring two months of supplies would last until they could get out again. But as it’s been a historic snowfall year in Lake Tahoe, that didn’t happen and they had to call for helicopter evacuation. Upon reading this I implored Brian to imagine living that far off the grid, and how lucky one would be to not know what was going on in the world. If I didn’t know about current events, then surely they wouldn’t be impacting me the way they are. Right?
In the meantime, Brian bought me an Oculus VR headset for my birthday and I’m finding solace in virtual reality. It’s very clean and trippy in there, surprisingly calming. I seem to have reached a point lately where all I want to do is take low doses of mushrooms and float around in imagined reality. Given the state of the world these days can anyone really blame me?