Saturday, January 28, 2006

Wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then

While somewhere in the world, she's hosting her own show
And everyone she questions never seems to know
Who they are and where they are going

-- BNL, Everything Old is New Again

Don't you know me, Kansas City? I'm the new Berlin Wall. Try and tear me down.

--Hedwig & The Angry Inch, Tear Me Down

Oh, who the fuck are you?

--The Who, Who Are You

I have but two dreams anymore. Variations on a theme - the past and the present juxtaposed as if someone fused the left side of a Wyeth with the right of a Picasso painting. Each side jousts for preeminence, jockeying for the best REM time.

Present waking reality exists solely on the jagged edge joining the two, minimal yet distinct. Jarring -- but pointless.

Through these fevered dreams flows the blood of an impending Apocalyptic nightmare and ephemeral remnants of such beauty that upon waking I'm left dazed and in pain, reaching for something beyond grasp.

Life since 2000 haunts my soul. But it's the years leading up to that point to which I cling. For I have changed, inexorably, indelibly - to the point where the cliche "I'll never be the same" hardly does justice. Worse for the wear, but better for newfound consciousness.

I was once caught in a landslide of perpetual bliss.

Unseen and unknown, at the bottom rested a pit of darkest tar awaiting my eventual landing. Before 2000 -- I'd say 9/11 but refuse to traffic in a meme most often used for political gain -- everything outside the tangible world we inhabit was unimportant. Life consisted of work, home, kids, friends, family and pets: unless it made worldwide headlines, it was of no significance to my life.

Or so I believed.

Now I see walking versions of that me every single day: kind, generally good and loving people who naively believe, as I did, that the world would go humming along as it always did, regardless of who was in power or what happened in Washington. The fabric would hold.

It was always something, and tomorrow it would be something else, equally lacking direct impact on our lives. Skies would remain blue, grass green, and Lennon would still convincingly remind me nothing's gonna change my world.

By every discernable measure, I was happier that way. Unfortunate to discover it was just a lie, a sleepwalk through the doorway of this current abyss. And rational thought to the contrary, I'd pay good money to return there.

But I can't. Ever.

While I was sleeping the landscape was developing at a breathtaking pace. Forces joined, allegiances forged, PNAC plans were drafted: venal chess pieces crawled across an unseen board.

I no longer trust the players of that era any more than I do those who roll our dice today. One of the ugliest sights I've ever witnessed was watching Congress members from both parties in New Orleans a week after Katrina, speechifying and back-slapping one another. When they should've been hanging their heads in mutual shame, drafting impeachment papers.

Worse than not trusting them, I no longer trust myself to remain vigilant in the face of what such intense scrutiny costs. To paraphrase a village idiot, it's hard work. Made still harder from recognition of such action's seeming futility.

How I long for that sleep, for that young woman peering over the precipice at 32, full of general goodwill, trust and hope for her children's futures. How I wish the vistas she envisioned still had obvious signs and street posts; that the map still applied.

But it doesn't.

And if we fail to recognize that huge difference, to wrap our minds around it and fight apathy, little else matters. The time for all good people to rise and recognize we're in a new land, crossing over into territory we've never explored before as a nation, that the fabric will not hold simply because we want to believe it will -- that time may have already come and gone. Just like that ghostly version of myself has entered quietly into ethereal history.

She didn't contemplate leaving -- anything or anyone.

If then you'd told her she would one day take steps to walk completely away from nearly every meaningful marker in life, she would have laughed and bought another round.

Little is left of that person.

In her stead is a face lined with worry, atop a body desperately in need of something comforting, familiar and recuperative - a peaceful sleep in a pre-2000 world. Dread has replaced hope, doubt has overtaken trust and suspicion trumps goodwill. Worse, none of that is unreasonable or unnecessary.

It may not have happened overnight, but the before and after surrounding this demarcation line still visit, nightly. The path to happiness leads in neither direction, for as long as things remain as they are here in America.

"Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both.

The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.

In the light of these ideas, Negroes will be hunted at the North, and held and flogged at the South so long as they submit to those devilish outrages, and make no resistance, either moral or physical. Men may not get all they pay for in this world; but they must certainly pay for all they get.
" --Frederick Douglass, 1857

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