Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
On July 4th, as I have done for the past few years, I accompanied Dana to the Independence Day Parade and Craft Fair in her hometown of Hinsdale, Illinois. The parade is a tradition of hers dating way, way back into her early childhood. I don’t have any such attachment to the similar festivities in my own home suburb of Downers Grove, Illinois, so I figure I might as well go along with her and observe the miles-long extravaganza of high school athletics, vintage fire engines, and American iconography walking around on stilts.
Even when I’m feeling pessimism about the current state of our union, I have been able, in past years, to suppress that enough to enjoy the outpouring of patriotism, to take small comfort in the wide eyed innocence of grade schoolers grabbing for free candy or other small items handed out by parade participants.
This year I just couldn’t do it. This year, as car after car of complacent suburban Republican politician elbow-elbow-wrist-wristed past, the bleakness of my mood slowly crept out and laminated me, and after half an hour, I was less interested in suppressing pessimism and more focused on suppressing shouts of anguish and revolt.
My discomfort in the whitest parts of suburbia increases exponentially at times like these. I found myself wishing dearly for a burst of telepathic power, to spend the rest of the parade jumping from mind to mind, afraid of hearing thoughts like Damn right we’re the greatest country EVAR…I hope we nuke those Iraqis for killing our troops. And maybe we’ll send the gays and the liberals into the strike zone as well.
And it’s not that I have any proof that such hate festers in the hearts and minds of any of the people at the parade that day. But my suspicion and paranoia is not unwarranted, so it annoys me.
I’m now less than a month away from the completion of my marriage procedures, including both the Muslim ceremony and the secular white wedding. And I think something that all the books fail to mention amidst the byzantine etiquette laws about invitations and the coy money-saving suggestions; what they fail to mention is that as your wedding approaches you should probably stop watching the news.
It’s not just that Ignorance Is Bliss, you see, it’s that Bliss Needs Ignorance.
Because I surf through CNN and NPR and the blogs and the copy of the Sun-Times that’s in the break room everyday, and when I’m not wary of it, or maybe just when it’s been rainy all week, I become inundated not just with a sense of depression, but with a sense of surrender.
In a month, I expect that I may be happier than I have been in my entire life. But what right do I have to that happiness, and what assurance do I have, and is it worth attempting to attain such peaks when it seems that there is an ever-growing chance that you will be tossed off that peak, harshly, breaking every bone on the way down while the vultures circle high above and place orders with the maitre’d?
Why does one try to be happy, when at any random moment poor tunnel construction, or self-centered fundamentalists, or aggressive government policies, or little more than bored sociopaths can take that away from you?
I already know that the answer to this highly existentialist question is that “Because the alternative is no way to live.”
But knowing the answer doesn’t make the question any easier.