Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Keeping the faith and growing potatoes . . .

Rep. Ryan and his optimistically named budget proposal
I started my day about 7 a.m.trying to come to terms with Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis., House Budget Committee Chair) "Path to Prosperity" Budget Plan. I quickly moved on to wishing that I trusted people in power to really, truly mean what they say  when they claim to have the interest of the poor, sick, or the elderly -- or even the middle class -- at heart.

Most politicians look so glossy. It's hard to imagine them having much concept of the struggles and troubles of the less-glossy.

I moved on to take a look Tom Graham's morning e-mail (a.k.a. the Graham News Service). This led me to open a link to Anita Kumar's "On Politics " post, which begins:
Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) told reporters at a Tuesday news conference that he opposes proposed regulations developed by his Democratic predecessor that would for the first time allow gay couples to adopt children in Virginia.
Oh dear! As a parent (and a lifelong sucker for anything small and helpless), I had to wonder if our governor was letting the political ramifications of supporting gay anything in Virginia trump consideration of the welfare of the legions of parentless children around the world. How did we let adoption get tangled up in politics in the first place? Shouldn't it be about giving abandoned kids a better life? What is wrong with us?

To stop thinking about parentless children, I started thinking about Japan off-loading radioactive water into the ocean, Terry Jones' firebug proclivities, all those federal government employees facing what appears to be mainly politically-motivated temporary job loss, all the bombs people are dropping on other people. 

And then I just ground to a blogging halt. 

To paraphrase Lena Lamont (Jean Hagan, Singin' in the Rain), I couldn't stan' it. I could not stand spending this particular April morning blogging about things that tempt me to wallow in cynicism and hopelessness. Once I give in to those two temptations, I've resigned my larger humanity for the day for the ranks of the glossy self-interested; the what's-in-it-for-me crowd. 

Snarkiness has always been easier than optimism. Pessimism has long been the chief characteristic of all former humans who still have beating hearts.

Well, phooey on that! Today, in open defiance of the depressing news of the day, I'm going to write about something that isn't news at all. I'm going to write about Dan Easley's garden. 

Dan, the Man
Dan Easley is a 21st Century Geek Supreme, as well as a former and much-missed WMRAer. He speaks computer as fluently as I speak English. Dan's expertise is in technology, but he's ambivalent, at best, about fully embracing the pace and apparent values of 21st Century America. And, he's refreshingly unafraid of living that ambivalence; i.e. he has mixed feelings about spending 40 hours a week at a conventional job and is willing to live with the financial consequences. Dan does not need to acquire stuff -- except for musical instruments. Charlie, my husband, steals from the late George Carlin by referring to Dan as the High Tech Low Life.

What I'm saying is that Mr. Easley's heart and energy (outside of his personal relationships) appear to be firmly invested in his music and his garden. About the latter, he e-mailed me last week that 
as the weather gets warmer i get more and more cranky sitting at a computer. at least i got my yellow potatoes in the ground yesterday, and a heckuva lot of certified organic seeds ordered. and 2 1/2 pounds of seed potatoes of the All Blue variety. delicious! 
I'm going to use Dan and his garden this morning as an antidote to my temporary attack of the World View Blues, for it takes true optimism for Dan to plant his garden. He has to have faith down to his toes that, despite humanity's energetic efforts to self-destruct, the sun will keep shining, the rain will keep falling, the world will keep spinning. Also, as a garden is a lot of work, planting one isn't about feeling hopeful; it's about being hopeful. It's about actively keeping the faith that we flawed human beings -- including those glossy politicians -- will somehow find our way forward together.

Holy seed potato, Batman! Surely I can follow Dan's example today: Surely, I can find something hopeful, embrace it, and get to work making it happen.

You with us?

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