Bus

My lance, my windmill, and my mighty steed

Nothing is simple. No matter how it looks on the surface, no project goes as planned. No vacation is perfect. Some part of the meal will not be ready when the rest of the dishes are done. Guests come early or late, leave too soon or not nearly soon enough.  Complications are the inevitable companion to everything.

Old South Church steeple

Old South Church steeple

Our fondest illusion, the one we hold most dear, is that we control our own lives, design our destiny. It’s the greatest promise of youth, the one that gives us the energy to charge off into life. We need to believe if we do the right stuff, go to the right schools, work hard, plan carefully, save against a rainy day … if we do “life” right, we will get what we want.

Good work gets rewarded, kindness will be returned, generosity appreciated. Moreover, if we eat right, keep fit, exercise, avoid drugs, cigarettes and alcohol, we will be healthy forever. Even if we don’t, statistics are just numbers: the bad stuff won’t happen to us. And of course, when we marry, it will be the right person and ours will be the love that lasts.

Crosswalk shadow

From the smallest things that go wrong, to the marriages that don’t last … to the jobs we lose when the company goes belly up or we are declared unnecessary or obsolete … we get stripped of our illusions. We learn that doing the right stuff doesn’t always yield the results we expected or the rewards we deserve. We discover that injustice comes in an endless variety of shapes and sizes, from the tiniest indignities to incomprehensible disasters. No one is spared, no one is immune. Whether slowly but surely or suddenly and without warning, we realize we are passengers on the bus that is life.

We are not driving the bus and don’t even know what road we are on.

Our plans for immortality are interrupted by unexpected illness. Friends and family are taken from us. The sickly partner lives, against all logic and reason, a long life and the apparently healthy, fit one is felled by accident or disease. We plan for a future that is never ours. There is a future, but it’s inevitably a surprise. Perhaps that’s the way it ought to be.

Bridge over the Little Colorado

Small choices are always in our grasp … the clothing we wear, which movie we see, with whom we share our lives. Beyond that, we might as well relax and enjoy the ride. Rich or poor, it’s the same for us all. Control is illusory. Man plans, God laughs. So why not laugh too?

Bus Crash

After a lifetime of trying to drive the bus, I got it. I could try my best and do what I can, but in the end, the bus is going wherever it’s going and I have nothing to say in the matter. I can enjoy myself or I can be miserable, but I’m not in charge.

I’ve gotten better at enjoying the ride and not making myself and everyone else crazy because I don’t like the bus, don’t know the driver, and apparently have no idea where I’m going. Although I still try to wrest the steering wheel from the steely grasp of the driver, I know I’m going to lose.

For every battle in which I engage and take away some small victory, there are dozens that I emerge from beaten, tired, pissed off … and in exactly in the same place I started. I keep relearning the same lessons. I recognize the futility of what I do, but sometimes I do it anyhow. I need to fight back, rail against fate. However futile it may be, sometimes I have to tilt at a few windmills.

That’s why I write. Because words are my lance, the world with all it’s injustice is my windmill. The internet? That’s my mighty steed.