A Really GREAT Day

Yesterday I called Elizabeth and invited her to go with me to see the renovations and new exhibits at the Rio Grande County Museum. She was up for it, so off we went. I hadn’t been yearning to go to the museum at all, but once I was there?

Only three other people were there besides the two of us which, for me, was good. Lyndsie and Kathleen have been working on the museum for the past six months, digitizing the collection, ripping out old carpets and putting down more durable and modern floors. The changes were great. One of the changes is turning the former director’s office into a small library for people who want to do research. All the books (and it’s a lot of books!) are there. The gift shop has been reorganized and I was thrilled to see my little notecards displayed beautifully. “Wow,” I said, “You made my day. I feel like a million dollars seeing this!” By then I’d exhausted my portfolio of appropriate cliches.

“Well, you should, ” said Lyndsie.

Then I asked when the stage coach was coming and she said, “It’s here!” and led us to it. I was thrilled to see it. It’s a great stagecoach with good stories.

It happened that Elizabeth’s and my next stop was an exhibit of Indian artifacts. As I looked at the display, and listened to a local archeologist talk to a couple of other people, I looked at the display and there, beautifully displayed were…

My mom’s moccasins.

I was so happy to see them. I gave them to the museum four years ago because I love them, they’re beautiful, and I didn’t want the day to come when I shirk off my mortal coil and they end up in a thrift shop or the landfill. When I gave them to the museum, I couldn’t see they had much relevance to Rio Grande County. The Crow don’t and never have lived down here. My mom may or may not ever have seen Del Norte, but I figured, at least there they would not end up dumped even if they never saw the light of day.

Crow Moccasins, Rio Grande County Museum, Del Norte CO
Native American artifact display, Rio Grande County Museum

My friend Louise, the director at the time said, “But you live here now. They belong here.” OK with me. I personally feel that with some larger or smaller differences, the story of the American west is ONE story. The sod and log home my born was born in was replicated all across the frontier. The stagecoach in the museum? Another one just like it appears in a 19th century painting of Mt. Shasta, CA.

So there they were. My heart was in my throat. I said, “Those are my mom’s moccasins.”

The archeologist said, “What?”

“Those. Those were my mom’s.” It wasn’t clear that I’d given them to the museum. I wasn’t very articulate. I did, finally, manage to say that I’d given them to the museum.

“They’re Crow moccasins. The beadwork is supposed to be a wild rose the kind that grow along the Little Bighorn.” And all over, but…

“I didn’t know that,” said the archeologist. How could he? “I knew they were Native American.”

“My mom was a teacher on the Crow Reservation in Montana.”

I was so happy to see them, I don’t remember ever feeling that way. My mom was a complicated and, for me, difficult person. She didn’t really like me but I liked her — sort of a model for my future love life, ha ha. I loved that she was a teacher on the Crow reservation. I loved her stories about that time in her life, WW II, she was still in school. Teacher training then involved one year studying, the next year teaching, and so on for eight years. She had good friends among the Crow some of whom I met in 1968 when I went to Crow on a church mission trip.

And THAT trip gave me one of the happiest days of my life even though I ended up in terrible trouble. I thought it was cool that we were there with the Indians; my mom’s stories had primed me. The leaders of the mission trip were not of a similar mind. But I made friends with a Crow kid and we took off one day on horseback and rode along the river for a couple of hours. For that I was punished in the classic style of those times; the promised trip to Yellowstone was cancelled. NO one got to go because of what I had done. OH well…

So, the moccasins. What a wonderful thing.

My mom when she was teaching at Crow Agency. She’s wearing a Coups pin. I wrote about that here…

Museum and Memory

Throughout my childhood I was dragged, grumbling sometimes, through many local museums. But in 2005 I woke up to their importance. And where? In the tiny village of Bubikon, Switzerland. The museum is a “castle” — a Commandery, a “Ritterhaus” — of the Knights Hospitaller from the 13th century. I saw it in the company of the resident historian who showed me everything. Fascinating. It is an amazing place in a very small village. The purpose of these places was — beyond housing and training knights — forming a buffer zone between warring lords. Nothing like a community of fighting men to keep the local enemy off your back. (Featured photo from the Swiss National Museum, the Ritterhaus in 1530 or so)

In many ways it’s similar to the Rio Grande County Museum in the fun-filled, scenic town of Del Norte, Colorado. The Ritterhaus at Bubikon is not on anyone’s tourist list, and to see the exhibits without a special guide you go to the snack shop and tell the woman running it that you’d like to see the exhibits. She’ll unlock it for you, and you’re free to wander around. My friend Lois and I did this. We went in the snack shop for lunch and then I tried to take Lois around the museum, but couldn’t. When I came back and asked when the museum opened, everyone (five people) in the snack shop looked at me in surprise. “What? An American came here to see THIS??? Ja, what about the Matterhorn??”

I’ve seen the same thing at “my” museum. Tourists from all over the world drive through Del Norte, and seeing that the museum has a public restroom and tourist advice, stop and ask for directions. Sometimes they want to see the exhibits. To save money, sometimes the lights in the back rooms are turned off, so there’s a rushing around to turn the lights on. Not quite as hardcore as locking the door, but…

Not too long ago a 100 year old woman, descended from original settlers in Del Norte, came back to celebrate her birthday. Many of her family’s possessions had been donated to the museum. She wanted to see them and be around them, so the museum had a party for her. Among the things that were done ahead of it was I was asked to translate some shipping documents and a will. I gave it a shot, but wasn’t at all sure I could do it so I marshaled the help of a historian friend in Zürich. The old lady was thrilled. She had never known what they said.

For the past few months “my” museum has been closed while the two people working there have digitally cataloged the collection. It’s been a lot of work and they’re almost — but not quite — finished. The museum is set to open next month. The stagecoach over which the museum has been in negotiation with the city where I live will be coming to the museum to stay at the end of April.

My mom’s birthday was yesterday and while I have very mixed feelings about that woman, I owe her a lot. I see it in my life every day. My love for rural places and my appreciation of history, those two very important things, came from my mom and they are major components of my life and personality. But maybe the biggest gift (besides life) that woman gave me is the gift of observation. I was a dreamy little girl, lost in my thoughts much of the time. My mom didn’t like that for some reason — I don’t know what. We — my family — might be wandering around in the world, and I wouldn’t be paying any attention to it. Sometimes her reminders to look at the world were accompanied by a slap. Sometimes by a voice filled with wonderment. Either way, I looked up. My life would be and would have been so much less if she hadn’t been serious about teaching me that, to “Look, Martha Ann!!” That included stopping at every local museum along the way on family road trips. Sometimes when I’m at the Rio Grande County Museum I can imagine my mom accompanying me and saying, “Why is that in a museum? I used that every day of my life growing up!”

That’s why I gave my mom’s Crow moccasins to the Rio Grande County Museum. It was my “Thanks mom. You’d have liked this museum,” even though the moccasins don’t have much to do with Rio Grande County or any part of Colorado; the Crow didn’t live here, but I do.

My mom in the early 1940s when she was teaching elementary school (one room school) on the Crow Indian Reservation. The pin she’s wearing — and in the photo — was made by the parent of one of her students. It’s a coups pin. Each hanging strand of beads is meant to represent a coups counted by the owner. I think, at this point in history, it is just jewelry. Interestingly, the cross on the pin is just like the cross of the Knights of St. John Hospitaller, the knights who lived at Bubikon. Pure coincidence and totally meaningless, but still cool.

Quotedium Update ad infinitum.2

The second and final box of contest books arrived yesterday via UPS and when I opened the front door to get it, Teddy ran out to the front yard. It’s OK. It’s fenced. It was pretty cute, though. He wasn’t sure he wanted to come back to me until I went out, too. I thanked Norris who laughed at my dog. I said, “He’s a cutie, but a pain in the butt!”

“My namesake,” said Norris.

The box is a little smaller than the first box, but it still weighs 30 pounds. I will open it this morning and make sure everything is here. Now the final sprint.

Yesterday I had lunch with the director of the museum. It was very nice to see her and talk about the upcoming summer. It’s always the same thing here (maybe everywhere?) things slow down in winter and in summer? A universal marathon blast of activity — for the farmers absolutely, but it seems we’re all on the same schedule. The good news is the stagecoach will be coming to the museum. That will be a story, I hope.

Another thing is the anniversary of the naming, recognition or something of the Old Spanish Trail. It’s a pretty cool thing — the trail the Spaniards used to travel between Santa Fe and Los Angeles.There are bits and pieces of that trail all around the San Luis Valley, a fretwork of whiskery spurs leading to resources or camps the Spanish used. There is a piece a few miles up the road from me and wagon tracks in various spots all around.

The one up the road from me leads to a lime kiln. It’s not on the map, but there’s a Spanish Trail Marker on a dirt road that leads to the lime kiln. On the map below, the red dot is more or less where Monte Vista is. (Featured photo of the marker near Monte Vista)

I don’t know much about it other than what I learned in elementary school. I bought a book about the trail soon after I moved here, but couldn’t get into it. It’s interesting — but not surprising — how our highways follow the same routes as many of the immigrant and trading trails.

I may find a story in the event at the museum, but I’m not sure yet. Certainly the arrival of the stagecoach is a story.

Lyndsie and I also talked about Covid — which we have both had and the lingering symptoms of long Covid which we’ve both struggled with. We talked about how we feel like different people with different brains or maybe brains that work differently. We talked about how time seems different as a result of this — and it does. For me there feels to be less continuity; events and actions seem like islands in a sea of vagueness. Less as time goes by, but still not quite “real.” The sense of unreality is very strong, the occasional feeling of “Who IS this person?” Well, whatever it is, we are stuck with it.

I came home from lunch and conversation needing a walk. Luckily, happen to have a Big White Dog who also needed a walk. I trapped Teddy in the house and headed out. More people have arrived to watch the cranes.

The Museum

Yesterday I went to get my paintings at the museum. While I was there an elderly couple (80s and beyond), their grown kids and teenage grandkids were there looking at exhibits. The woman had grown up in Del Norte and remembered some of the people — doctors and dentists — whose old time tools are part of an exhibit. The tree had been decorated with old postcards, and one of them had been written by the old lady’s father. K, the woman in charge yesterday, asked the old woman if she’d like to take a photo of it. I think I would have given it to her. It’s just paper.

I thought about the purpose of a museum, especially a small local museum. In one more generation, the old things in there aren’t gong to evoke much of a response in people except as they might remember going there on an elementary school field trip. I wonder how they will see the ephemera, like the Christmas postcards? I asked myself, “Where do our memories actually lie and what do they mean?” Christmas is a nostalgic time.

I didn’t put up a Christmas tree because, honestly, why? BUT…when I pulled out the stained glass box that is a candle holder I found some Christmas ornaments inside it. Well, to cut to the chase, I “decorated.” In front of me right now is my “tree.” It’s a little museum to Christmas past, memories. The ornaments seemed to say, “For the love of god do SOMETHING with us!” I put them all on my tuner in front of me here on my table. The angel, in particular, with her chrome, foil, plastic, pipe-cleaner little self, her wooden ball head with its sweet expression that so enchanted a little girl that her dad bought it for her.

The real museum is probably in our minds, the stories behind the objects, artifacts, ephemera, like the elderly woman in the museum seeing her dad’s handwriting on the back of a postcard from the 1920s. I would have given it to her. “Here. Merry Christmas.” Yep. I would’ve done that.

Gone to the Dogs

Another intense week draws to a close but I KNOW better than to complain about it. It could be a LOT more intense and at least as bad. Yesterday I did the 15 questions, one of which was What are you most looking forward to in 2023? I responded that I had no idea and that, “…it’s all big crapshoot.”

The author of the questions didn’t agree that it’s a crapshoot. That’s OK, but I look back on this year and I could NEVER have predicted anything that happened and NONE of it was anything I looked “forward” to. It seemed that things just happened, mostly randomly. As far as I recall the only thing I looked forward to in 2022 was the arrival of the Sandhill Cranes. I can say the same for 2023, but I’m in no hurry. Soon after they leave, the deer flies arrive.

The past couple of years have shaken us all up, I think. Certainly they’ve shaken me up to the point where I’m afraid even to write something on the calendar like it’s going to happen.

I ended up going to the little art show at the museum. Luckily, I got there after the “crowds” had gone. It was quiet, and I felt, pretty safe from the boogie monsters. The fiddle player was there with his dog, Lola. Lola was actually the draw — I saw a little video of Johnny playing the fiddle, and his dog walked through the frame. I’d heard about Lola at the fancy dinner, so I cleaned up (somewhat) and headed out. Lola is a great dog. It was worth the trip. Not just Lola, but the continual sweet surprise of this community. I will never, never get used to it.

Louise, the former director, used to clear out the museum exhibits and turn the museum into a gallery. This was fantastic. The museum has gallery lighting and big, white walls. Lyndsie chose not to do that. It doesn’t affect where I hang my paintings, but it makes the paintings look like just another museum exhibit and people can’t get close to them to look at them. People LIKE to do that. It’s funny, but I don’t really care. I care enough to notice, but not enough to object. In fact, I don’t object. That old saw about “choosing your fights”? Well I understand it now. That’s not my fight. I know Lyndsie had to advocate with the county on behalf of local artists. I don’t know everything that happened in the last days of Louise other than it wasn’t pretty. I love Louise and I like Lyndsie, but most of all, I appreciate the museum. That is my “job” description. “Hi, my name is Martha and I support the museum.” One thing I would like to do in 2023 is find something to do with my paintings. I don’t know what that would be, but I think it might involve driving. Ha ha…

Another Wonderful Day

Big day yesterday. After my internal conniption fit, I succeeded doing the brave thing. Then I took my four paintings to the museum to hang. As it happened, “my” nails were still in the walls from last year so it was easy, especially because Lyndsie did the the actual hanging, great since I couldn’t find the step ladder. The only bad thing was that when I was writing the titles of my works and prices on my business cards to hang beside the paintings, I wrote the same one 5 times. THAT is Covid brain. THAT is the brain, eye, hand thing that has made me scared to paint. When I saw what I was doing, I laughed, because it IS funny, but it wasn’t funny. It’s frightening. You think, “What if that’s me forever and it gets worse?” AND I’d already written those cards, but I wasn’t sure I had because I couldn’t find them. It happened that Lyndsie moved them, not far away. If I’d looked a little I’d have seen them, but I didn’t. True, I was a little adrenaline pumped from having done the brave, scary thing, but that wasn’t the WHOLE why for that bizarreness… Here are three of my paintings.

When I arrived I saw an old guy (older than me) coming my way. I said “Good morning,” he grunted. “Hmmm,” I thought, and shrugged. Later I learned his name is John. He had never shown his work before. He had about 15 vivid watercolors, pretty nice work, and he turned out to be a very nice guy. Turns out he lives at Homelake, the veterans home that was built here a long time ago for Civil War Veterans. He was so excited to show his work to me. So cool.

Then, another local artist came in — Laura Lunsford — a woman I have always wanted to know better. I walked up to her to say hi and she took my hand. She’s 85. She makes dolls — not normal dolls, but sculptures, really fun and beautiful sculptures with fabric. Other things, too. Her husband — who’s 92 — was bringing in boxes of her things. We ended up in a long conversation about everything — including China! Turns out a person (son?) in their family taught in China, also, married a Chinese woman, long story but that was fascinating. The thing about this place, we might not see people for a year because the “neighborhood” is so far flung. 40,000 people in an area as large as Connecticut…

Lyndsie, the new museum director, bought one of my paintings and left me minding the store while she went to the atm. I made her look at the painting (it was boxed) before I took off with her money. She loves it and was patient with me when I told her about what the paints were made of. Actually, more than patient. Her boyfriend loves rocks and knowing that actual lapis was used to paint Mt. Blanca? Wonderment. “I can’t wait to tell Justin!”

I finally took off for home. When I turned into the road leading to the bank, I saw the little old Hispanic guy who lives nearby was pushing a grocery cart, heading home with food for the week. He’s so small, the cart was nearly as tall as he was. I did a u-y and said, “You want a ride?” He loaded the groceries into the back and I brought him home. He lives in what can only be called the “projects” of Monte Vista — an old motel now apartments. I’ve given him a ride before. I like him. I like the way he talks to my dogs when he walks down my alley.

Finally home, I got Bear alone and we headed to the Big Empty. It was very beautiful — there are fronts hitting the San Juans that may or may not make it over that high-mountain rain shadow. It was wonderful seeing them attempting to crest the mountains and the various atmospheric forces working to keep that from happening. EVERYTHING is written in the skies of the San Luis Valley. The light was beautiful, December light, the low sun and the clouds. Bear got to smell, track and leave scent markings for an hour and I did what I do that might be the equivalent — though for me it’s less about leaving graffiti — pee, in Bear’s case — telling the world I was there than seeing what the world has to say to me.

What did it say? Well, of course, I took the brave thing out there with me to think about, to confer with the great mind. At the very least, doing anything LESS than the scary thing would be unkind. Simple. The light across the Big Empty was very clear about that.

In other news, apparently WP is now posting a daily prompt and calling it that, It was on my new post when I opened it this morning but I found it also on “home.” Well, hmmmmm… Five things I’m good at?

Typing. Listening. Endeavoring. Being outdoors. Hanging out with dogs.

The Fancy Dinner

Among the events last night I managed to get out of the house dressed in black velvet and cashmere without being covered with the love filaments of my canine partners. As I drove to the fancy dinner, the valley showed me all its snowy mountains, the Sangres, draped in the pink of sunset. On the edge of Del Norte I slowed down for a small herd of mule deer.

The dinner was wonderful! Delicious and beautifully served. Every seat was filled. Warm and friendly conversations everywhere. I sat at a table with museum people which was good. I don’t know how well I did as a journalist, but I can fill in blanks since I have a month before the deadline in December.

It’s always going to be a little strange living in a place where people have known each other and each other’s families going back generations. Such a thing would never have been my life no matter what my life had been. I have always belonged more to a landscape than to the people who live in it, but, like the people among whom I live now, I was also a “property” of a large extended family, so this isn’t really alien to me. My family just happened to be in Montana, but their lives going back in a generation or two were similar to the lives of the families of the people around me. Over time, I realized that if I have a “home” somewhere, it’s Montana. Maybe “home” is the place to which you return from wandering, time and again. I know that one reason the valley attracted me is its resemblance to the part of Montana I know best, the big, blue sky, the golden plains, the distant blue mountains.

Over the years I’ve learned that, in a way, every place is the same place and a traveller is a traveller by nature. The I-Ching taught me about that a long time ago. I’m never going to “belong” here except as an accepted outsider, truly a lovely thing, and partly my choice. A traveler — to be at peace wherever he/she travels — has to cultivate a certain attitude and that attitude came pretty naturally to me. Though I am friendly, and sincerely like people, my personality is a little detached. Some people in my life (including my mom) have complained about that, but it’s just who I am. I am private and self-contained. Some of my family understood that, and it didn’t bother them; others felt put-off and rejected. But we are all who we are.

I chose a long time ago to be what I understood to be “a citizen of the world.”

“Hexagram 56: The traveler arrives at an inn. All of his belongings are with him. He gains the trust of a youthful attendant. In this situation, the traveler is a humble and well-mannered person. He understands that for a traveler the only place where he finds a resting point is attained through a constant and renewing introspection of his inner principles. Since he does not find a home in the outside world he must find refuge within himself. Because of his modest and proper approach he will be greeted as a friend. He will find assistance among the others and his purpose will be achieved. He will even gain the support of a person who will become a loyal and sincere friend. This is a priceless benefit for a man who travels through the lives of others. “

The entire hexagram is applicable to me. But this part always strikes home. I’ve been lucky here to find true friends who take me as I am and appreciate — and accept — what I have to offer them. My companion here is the valley itself. Extremely good company and I don’t want to be anywhere else.

The level of “gussied” up here in the San Luis Valley is completely acceptable to me — I was on the fancy end of that. I could’ve worn jeans and a sweatshirt, but… I haven’t been in an environment like that for years. The last time was the student/athlete’s banquet at San Diego State in 2007? Ah, some conferences — 2012, 2013. That too. I thought about that as I drove home with the moon rising half full. Such events were once a part of my life, no big deal. It’s funny that when we retire we don’t first realize all that we retire FROM.

I have a lot to process and some interviews to line up and a few photos to take before I can write the story. I’m happy my deadline is a month away.

More Discussion of Escape from Freedom

Fromm begins his book — and his argument — with his two definitions of freedom — one positive (Freedom To) and the other negative (Freedom From). I’m not sure I buy those as opposites. Freedom FROM hunger is freedom TO eat. Freedom from oppression is, uh, oh, yeah, freedom. But I’m happy to see where he goes with that (to me) rather arbitrary dichotomy. I know one thing for sure about freedom. It’s difficult to define.

Yesterday the ladies and I went to the museum to see the new exhibit which is all kinds of stuff from the olden days. The idea is to figure out what all these strange things were used for. Lyndsie (the new director) made a guide to go with the objects that are common household tools and objects for farming, things like a cream separator and a seed spreader. We had a good time. It was followed by lunch which wasn’t great.

Elizabeth is Australian and she got up early to watch Queen Elizabeth’s funeral. She’s long held the thought (and frequently expressed it) that the United States needs a royal family. On the drive home, I mentioned I was starting to see her point. That led to a front seat discussion about presidents and who did and did not “act presidential.” They agreed Obama acted presidential; there was dispute over whether Biden does. I was in the back so I had the privilege of listening with Fromm’s book still on my mind. I think a lot depends on what a president inherits when he takes office — and Biden inherited a mountain of shit — divided country, an insurrection, a pandemic and its resultant economic challenges, all followed hard on by a war in Europe.

When I was able to pick up Fromm’s book again — beginning a new chapter, “The Emergence of the Individual and the Ambiguity of Freedom” — I was again stunned.

“The social history of man started with his emerging from a state of oneness with the natural world to the awareness of himself as an entity separate from surrounding nature and men.”

Good god… This was a little challenging for me because I think our separation from the natural world is an illusion. We might THINK we’re free of it, but we’re not and, in this particular case, that is to say it seems to ME, that at this juncture in human history, this drive and (its corresponding illusion) is killing us. The other day, MTG said, “AOC worships the climate. I worship God.” All I could think was, “Uh they are one and the same you stoopnagle.”

Too much abuse of our world, resulting from our freedom to create an environment designed for man, might lead us to a very sinister negative freedom, that is freedom FROM life. But the bizarre end-days cult to which she clings might be all about that, after all Revelations says the world will end in fire. I don’t know. I can’t know what goes on in their twisted little minds.

Fromm went on to discuss the emergence of each of us as an individual, a process he called individuation which is the moment in which a person recognizes that he/she is a separate entity, not connected to parents, but a self of its own. As I read I thought about my own childhood and recognized the moment, though it wasn’t a “moment” so much as a process of self-definition that took about three years. It began on a train crossing Wyoming north to south and culminated in a little movie theater in Nebraska watching Lawrence of Arabia and sucking on sour cherries. The first was the opening of the question, “Who am I?” the end was, “I am no one but myself.” A book was an instrument in the beginning; a film in the completion.

I remembered the numerous times my mom said, “You and your brother were easy as little kids and then?”

Well, mom. I thought of all the times I said, “I’m not you. THIS is what I want to do.” I understood at that point that what I did might not work, but I was OK with that, I was OK with failure. My independence mattered more to me even as a kid than success.

It hurt when friends snubbed me (kids do that) and it wasn’t easy for me to make friends, but after a while that was OK, too. I didn’t feel isolated. I came to understand back then, on some level, that all the kids around me were in this process, too. That was one reason kids fight. That was a motivation behind adults organizing us into team sports where each of us would begin to focus more on a skill than in competing for identity. It seemed to me at the time — and I have no idea if it’s true — that girls were generally less determined to become selves than were the boys. Their playground games were more peaceful and sedentary; their games at home seemed to revolve around role plays of adult life. The boy’s games interested me more; I wanted individual achievement. I wanted to get better at things, run faster, hit more balls, see more, know more.

Fromm then discusses how the moment (process?) of individuation affects people (the process is inevitable). Some people are overwhelmed by the sense of solitude in the universe. Others recognize the solitude, but accept it.

“The process of individuation is one of growing strength and integration of its individual personality but it is at the same time a process in which the original identity with others is lost and in which the child becomes more separate from them. This growing separation may result in an isolation that has the quality of desolation and creates intense anxiety and insecurity, it may result in a new kind of closeness and a solidarity with others if the child has been able to develop the inner strength and productivity which are the premise of this new kind of relatedness to the world.”

Whoa. Person 1 — riddled with anxiety and insecurity — will seek submission to escape that painful solitude. Person 2 won’t, having made peace with freedom, or so it goes more or less. I’m not sure, but this seems to be the argument Fromm is building. Naturally, I brought all this home to people I have known. I saw my mom in a completely different way. I saw that she never made peace with the intrinsic solitude of individuality, never found a way to live productively within it. It struck me that perhaps the foundation of freedom is just that. “I’m alone and it’s OK with me.”

Fromm makes that point.

P.S. This might be tedious, but I don’t have anyone around to talk about this with. Writing about it helps me process the ideas. The book is just under 300 pages so this won’t go on forever 😜

NOT Broken, Just Slowed Down a Bit

I spent some time at the local museum yesterday talking about plans for the future. Lyndsie, the new director, is doing an amazing job. We talked about Covid — which we’ve both had — and she said she’d joined a support group for people who are still experiencing challenges related to it. I went to their page later and left my small story, just there, like that, in case it resonated with someone. Later a guy commented saying we had been “broken,” “big Pharma” and some other entities were to blame. I didn’t respond because I don’t want to get involved in stupid discussions, but I thought about it. It’s probably natural to look for someone or something to blame, but I don’t think in this case anyone is to blame. If there’s ONE thing we knew for sure about this virus is that it is a virus and it would make people sick. Nobody did that. No wet market in China, not Dr. Fauci, not the CDC, not even the evil Dr. Scarf. Not even the anti-maskers or the anti-vaxxers, illogical though their views might have been (be?). Sometimes things are just bad.

When we read history, we read that the average lifespan back in the day was 40 something. That isn’t even true. It’s an average between the numerous 70+ year olds and the babies who died at birth. When I was studying my own family tree I saw that pretty much everyone who didn’t die in childbirth, birth, or from an epidemic lived into their late 70s and 80s. They blamed God for stuff like the plague and then sought ways to make it up to God for everything, so maybe blame is a human thing we do. In a way it makes more sense to blame God than to blame each other, though. God doesn’t care “Oh you silly humans. I had nothing to do with this.” We have the potential to hurt each other, adding insult to injury.

I think some of it is point of view, too. I don’t feel “broken.” My hip just hurts — some days more, some days less; I feel fatigued more easily (like ever), but my brain is returning. Goethe said that the biggest influence in any of our lives is the time and place in which we are born. Luck. I think he was right, but we don’t like the idea that it’s all pretty random. I just happen to be alive at this moment in time. I just happened to be somewhere where I could catch the virus. It just happened that my unique vulnerabilities caused it to act like it has with me. Nobody “did it to me.” I hope to be able to langlauf this winter, but maybe I won’t be able to. Well, that can be happen from other causes like no snow. Luck.

Yesterday at the museum I enjoyed the new exhibit which is a collection of weird stuff we don’t use any more and which is really hard to recognize. Lyndsie set it up as an interactive exhibit; people can touch the items and explore them. It’s very cool. The lesson from all that is, “We’re wusses.” I KNEW we were wusses, but seeing what our ancestors considered “labor saving devices” brought it home again. Among the items in the exhibit is a VERY old spinning wheel, the kind we saw in kids’ books when we were (well, I was) learning to read. I’m always amazed by that. They got the wool (flax, cotton), spun it into thread on one of these things (or on a hand spool) then wove it into cloth. They did this for thousands of years. Yeah, we all know this, but every once in a while it sinks in, again. I doubt anyone was ever NOT doing something unless they were extremely wealthy, living in opulent mansions with a phalanx of servants bustling about.