Nuance…… and Essence

It seems the truth of the world is found in nuance and essence. In between the lines–we have to find the heart and spirit of the truth. Perhaps never more so than now. When we are daily inundated with headlines that scream for our attention, each agency and organization in competition with the other for clicks or screen time or however they measure their success. Advertising just generally seems to run the world these days. And ads are loud—presumably because every medium available is jam-packed with information designed to influence our behaviors and purchases.

But it is the sublime nuance of communication that most intrigues us. Poetry. Richly contextualized writing. Art of all kinds. These are the gifts, and the kernels of truth, we must seek out as we go through the rituals of our day.

I stopped and snapped this feature photo as I was leaving the Cleveland Clinic grounds at TRW in Lyndhurst. It is a stunningly beautiful corporate campus–with a colorful, tree-lined, 1/2 mile winding road leading to the stylish building. A true architectural masterpiece. There was a big flock of geese on top of the hill where I took this photo.

I’m officially supposed to be in South Africa at this moment, and so it has been on my mind. I decided at the last minute to defer my trip to focus on things here. At work. Not something I am proud of, but it seemed the right thing to do at this moment in time. But I have spoken these past two nights to friends about living live off the grid—for me, in the middle of the desert in Namibia. The simplicity and peace associated with getting away from constant information overflow. When I first moved to Namibia, internet was not ubiquitous; you had to go looking for it. We had a slow DSL connection in our office at Rossing Foundation. At my house, nothing. Nada. No tv. No radio, and no internet. Take away the distractions and you will find there is a lot of time in a day. The first 30 days was very tough. Second 30 better. After, I loved the solitude and long days. I slept more and sIept well. I read 5x more and wrote more clearly and thoughtfully. I had hours on hours where my mind was off the leash and could ramble over any course of interest without interruption. Work was not the center of the universe, with its gravitational pull stealing time from all other things.

So there’s that. Every philosopher since the beginning of time has told us the pursuit of money only brings unhappiness. And yet, most humans on the planet are chasing more money. A nicer home in a better zip code; a new Audi; private schools; clothes, collections, 5-star hotels. It’s all pursuit of money or status. Interestingly, almost everyone instinctively believes these parables. And yet we all continue to march along with our brothers and sisters in the slow Bataan death march of overwork and dependence on materials things. Boredom. Routine. Fear.

I am slowly working my way through Cleveland’s independent bookstores. I will make my next stop tomorrow to get a copy of ‘The Razor’s Edge‘ (for me) and ‘West With the Night‘ for a friend’s daughter—who wants to be a pilot.

The amount of craziness in our politics now defies description. Officially. There’s simply no way to get your mind around the ignorance of our time.

So how to break it down. Dismiss Trump first. He’s an outlier. A true madman. Bush was bad. Trump. Well. Enough said.

Looking beyond Trump. How do we explain his election in the first place. His actions as president are consistent with his ridiculous claims as a candidate. Why so many people believed in this fool cannot be explained. Why 40% of the country still support this fool cannot be explained. Think about Trump, Boris Johnson, Putin, Erdogan, Berlusconi, Duterte. There’s a large gaggle more in South and Central America and of course Africa has been lousy with crazy dictators for decades; Mugabe, Amin, Zuma and too many other crazy mother-fuckers to even remember.

Is it possible humans are not evolved enough yet for self-rule? But then, how do you explain Canada, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland? There are some places that seem to get it right. What is the difference? How are they smart enough to get it right while we fool around with Trump and his band of bozos.

Only revolution can save us now. But a revolution needs a core group of rebels aligned around a common cause. Getting rid of Trump is not the seeds of revolution. What is our cause? If not democracy, what? Democracy has failed us in this instance. So what’s next? How do we muster motivation for a revolution if we don’t have a vision of government to bind us together. Maybe the hate and greed that fueled the US for most of our history still flows through our veins and corrupts us. How can we have so many who are so duped by an obvious conman? Is it our education system? How is it that the religious right are the ones who pick the most fearful leaders. Bush won big with religion and then went on to kill hundreds of thousands and displace millions with no plan or vision or strategy about what he was trying to achieve. But my god, the religious ones seem to love him. Same with Trump. Twice divorced, multiple affairs and bankruptcies and generally hedonistic lifestyle. And religious zealots love him. They hate Obama with his ‘married to the same woman for 30 years and no affairs or scandals and drama-free life.’

Well whoever said that in a democracy you get the government you deserve, could not have been more right. And by god we got a doozy.

So a crazy coincidence. I was watching a show on Amazon. It has Billy Bob Thornton playing a drunk, rogue lawyer from LA. But in the episode I was watching, he was in farm country in Central Valley, CA; there was a big desert tortoise walking across the road and Billy’s law partner swerves to miss the turtle and runs off the road. In my last post, I was writing about Steinbeck’s use of symbolism and even mentioned this section from Grapes of Wrath in my post. But in the movie version, a truck runs off the road trying to miss the turtle. So, that was sort of an odd coincidence.

Friday night. I went to a little after-hours with the gang. One of my colleagues accidentally locked her keys in the car so I took her home to fetch her spare key. After, I was just tired. This week was far more stressful than the last which was worse than the one before. We need to get stable but drama keeps emerging and it requires attention. Anyway…..just work stuff. I decided to come home so I picked up some amazing chicken from Bobby V’s (best damn friend chicken in Cleveland) and watched Roy Orbison’s ‘Black and White Night’ with chicken and mashed potatoes and a damn good Côtes du Rhône.

This weekend was a catch up weekend. Rest. A few chores, reading, writing, hiking, cooking and all those things are are relaxing and energizing. I Skyped Beverly in Namibia to explain why I had to change my plans. She was disappointed, as we all were, but she understands.

When you stop for groceries at 12:30 am in a part of town that is best described as ‘sketchy’, it’s easy to imaging that shopping choices are limited. I was on 185th in East Cleveland, after a Saturday afternoon of day-drinking followed by an evening of night drinking. I was proper drunk when I stopped in the Rite Aid. It’s a few miles from my house geographically and a few light years away socio-economically. But I’ve been in there a number of times, but not at 12:30am. Just a different scene. The cashier was full on into her music and had little time for the interruption of a customer. This store is about what you’d expect from a clientele where every penny counts. I bought a dozen white eggs that were practically screaming to tell me they were hatched in anguish and despair from a confined cage and their momma was beakless and addicted to steroids or antibiotics or whatever drugs they give chickens to maximize egg production and minimize quality of life. I have this weird idea that a brown egg is somehow more healthy or environmentally friendly or ethical than a white egg—but I have absolutely no basis to support that.

The day-drinking was fun. Saturday afternoon I headed downtown to walk the city, check out a few bookstores and maybe find a beer. And my plan was realized. I got in some good walking miles and finally settled in at Nano Brew in Ohio City. I had a couple of very nice porters outside on the patio while smoking a nice Oliva and chatting with a few other people enjoying the late summer sunshine. At one point a big wedding party walked by and lots of other interesting characters. It was a pretty cool place to hang for a couple of hours.

Sunday I took a great hike at Bedford Reservation off of Tinker’s Creek. There were some beautiful falls and an overall beautiful hike.

Anyway, Rite-Aid in South Euclid at 12:30am is a trip.

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