OUR WORLD BALANCED ON THE HEAD OF A PIN – Marilyn Armstrong

Garry was a working reporter for more than 40 years, so you have to figure I have an interest in the news. I never watched all the news. I didn’t think every shooting or fatal car accident was news. Just because something happens doesn’t make it newsworthy. Even if it’s tragic. News directors believe in bad news. Good news rarely makes the cut.

I was never a news junkie. I wasn’t — and still am not — addicted to the news, but I like to know what’s happening. Not just about things which directly affect me, but how goes my town,  city, state, nation, and world. From wondering who was going to fix our local potholes to which war we are currently fighting even though I never understand why we are having another (or the same?) war.

Film at eleven!

As far as elections go? I like to get a good, long look at candidates. If you don’t watch candidates during their campaigns, how can you know who to vote for? Having enough time to get that look at candidates is probably the only advantage of our ridiculously long election process. One of the many things you can learn is if that person has a moral center, something to which I think we’ve previously paid far too little attention.

There may be more …

Right now, as I’m watching television, it appears Iran has shot a dozen ballistic missiles at an American base in Iraq. So all of this could be a moot point. For all I know, we may be in the middle of nuclear war tomorrow or by the end of the week. I asked Garry if we should call all our friends (there aren’t that many) and say goodbye.

Maybe I don’t need a new boiler after all. Well, that’s a relief. There’s always a silver lining. You just need to look for it.

Missiles from Iran to U.S. installation in Iraq

When people said: “Oh, I don’t watch the news,” Garry took it personally. After all, he was on the news almost every day. Meanwhile, he read three papers a day as well as working fulltime for a network news affiliate. To be fair, half of that reading was sports, but we all need hobbies. He knew the candidates personally because he worked with them. He knew their records. He was really good at predicting elections. He had better than average resources and by definition, so did I.

Australian fire – clouds and embers

I never read three papers a day. I spot read one and never missed the comics or anything about archaeology. I watched and recorded Garry’s daily piece. Nonetheless, I knew what was going on. I voted almost every year. I missed a few. I never missed a presidential or senatorial election, but sometimes I’d let the local elections slide because I didn’t know anything about the candidates. When you don’t know who the candidates are, voting is like scratching a lottery ticket. It has the same resonance. I can’t throw my vote to the most appealing face on the ballot.

These days, I feel like our world is balanced on the head of a pin.

REUTERS/Noah Berger – Fires in California last summer

It’s a big, blue ball and a very tiny pin. There is no room to make a mistake. A bit of imbalance and that big blue ball will crash. Given one thing and another, it may crash regardless, but until I know it has, I’ll do the best I can to make a difference. In the course of our lives, we don’t get much opportunity to influence anything outside ourselves and maybe our family. The magnitude of the world in which we live has dwarfed our efforts.

Montecito Mudslide – 2018

This little blog is what I can do. If there’s any purpose to blogging daily, it’s because maybe I can help someone. Change someone’s mind. Show them a choice they didn’t know was available. Whenever I’m tired of the whole thing, I remember that there’s a chance I can help. Maybe I’m not just spinning my wheels.

I think everyone has a minimal obligation to have a fundamental understanding of the world in which they live. I find it appalling in a time when all our lives are on the line, that so many people still hide their heads in the sand or willingly believe lies because they feel better than the truth. Then they complain when things go wrong.

It was generations of head hiders who got us here.

THE END OF MIDDLE EARTH – Marilyn Armstrong

I don’t know how many times I’ve read these books. I know the first time was in 1967. I read it in the hospital after my spine was fused and after I decided not to die. I was in the hospital for five months and not allowed out of bed at all for any reason. That is a lot of time in bed and after getting home, it was a very long recovery.

It was more than a year before all the plaster and braces were removed and months more before I could stand upright for more than a few minutes at a time. But I was young and after a while, I was as normal as I would ever get. I had always been a voracious reader, but I had never read any science fiction. By the time I got out of the hospital, I had read every sci-fi book anyone could find for me, as well as Lord of the Rings. Twice. You have to read it twice. It takes that long to absorb it. Really, it takes even more readings than that. There’s so much to it. Moreover, each time you read it, it means something different than it did the time before.

I had crates of books to take home with me. I think I left most of them with the hospital. TV wasn’t very good back then and a lot of people needed something to read.

As I am now in the middle of “The Two Towers, ” deep in the syntax of J.R.R. Tolkien as the peoples of Middle Earth fight the encroaching darkness.

Speaking of branches, the Ents have taken a stand against Saruman. This is one of my favorite parts of the books and as far as I am concerned, I live amongst my Ents. I often talk to my trees because if they are Entish, they are listening.

Gandalf

I’ve passed the battle of Helm’s Deep when Theoden asks Gandalf if they can get back to the life they knew before all this ugliness. Gandalf says no because evil leaves traces. You fight it, but even if you win, remnants of that evil are always with you.

“But what about the peoples of Middle Earth? Will we all vanish?”

Gandalf says “Perhaps. Sometimes that’s the price we pay.” This isn’t literally what they said, but close enough.

These days, I wonder if all the people of modern earth will vanish too and that will be the price we pay. I can’t say we don’t deserve it. As a species, we’ve done terrible things to our earth.  We have a long, hard road ahead to fix it, which I sure do hope we do soon.

Will the evil of these days cause us to vanish? I have to admit, I never imagined I was living in evil times. I knew there were bad people — far too many bad people — but I thought most of us were basically decent people, good people. That our government would always stand up for us ahead of their personal agendas. And yet, here we are.

I still hope it somehow gets better and I really hope that Australia stops burning and the sea recovers. That Autumn returns and the seasons take their rightful place as the world rolls around the sun.

ONCE IN A LIFETIME – Marilyn Armstrong

I don’t envy much. I’ve never needed the biggest house or the fastest car. Fashion doesn’t tempt me and success for me has always meant having enough. Spare would be nice, but enough will do. I don’t need popularity. A few good friends and some companionable other acquaintances are just fine.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

But you, over there? Yes, you. Young person, with your flexible body and the spring in your step. I bet you can sleep a whole night without having to take “something for the pain.” I bet you still have all your original parts too. No silicone implants or valves from other creatures. That must be really great. A spine that isn’t encrusted by calcification. A digestive system that will handle whatever you throw into it … and at your age, probably that’s all sorts of weird stuff. I hope you get over that. Stomachs are important. They don’t stay tolerant forever.

And feet! Oh, how glorious! You can run, jump, walk. Your eyes are clear and bright and you can focus your camera without special glasses. How delightful. I remember when I could do that.

It’s not envy. That would imply you’ve got something I want to take from you. It’s just that you are young and healthy. Your beauty is in your vitality and the joy I see you take in the simple acts of daily life. It’s not envy. It’s more wanting to turn back my own clock. Oh, what I’d give for a single day of being completely healthy and pain-free.

On the horse

I hope you treasure what you have. I didn’t realize how much it would change and how quickly it would happen. I never expected to be what I am now. In my imagined future, I was just as you are now, but with a little gray in my hair. Otherwise, I’d be perhaps a bit slower. I want a day as I was so I can treasure it and remember how it feels to walk with a spring in my step, eat an ice-cream, run across the grass, ride a horse.

Treasure what you have, youngsters. It’s worth more than gold. If it goes away, no earthly treasure can buy it back. Take care of yourself. Hoard your riches. You’ll need them on the road ahead.

SUNSET AT THE END OF THE ROAD #8 – Marilyn Armstrong

Sunset at road’s end – Marilyn Armstrong

Another picture from the series on our street during that sunset in February. I love the colors in this one. The sky was bright blue, the clouds were purple and the naked trees made their own designs again the backlit sky.

Coming home at sunset