Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The widening gyre

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

I took a couple of days off at the end of last week. I stayed home, played video games, did some cleaning, read, played with the boys.

And I slept. I slept for about twelve hours, one night. Presumably I needed it. I didn't really try to get things done; in fact, the only goal I set was to relax as much as possible. And for those two days, it worked.

And then Easter Weekend hit - like a cartoon safe falling from the sky. Squoosh! I don't understand why it was so difficult, but it was. We weren't overscheduled, particularly. But we wound up trying to do some things (and get some things) that threw us off our usual weekend schedule. Also, a shift in the weather brought us a massive cloud of allergens for the weekend. And suddenly I was tired again, stressed out again, burned out again.

(I'm talking about myself, here, because hey, it's my blog; but the Beautiful Wife is every bit as tired and worn as I am, and probably more so. Yesterday, I attempted to help her with a last-minute problem, and very nearly spent a lot of money getting something shipped overnight, only to discover that I could check out a copy from the library for free. That's half an hour of my life that I won't get back, but at least the problem is solved.)

Everything takes more time and energy than it should. Often it takes more money, too.

We're thinking about trying to move. At this point, I don't even see how that's possible. We can't get the house clean for even ten minutes; there is no way on Earth we can do enough to sell it. And there's no way we can buy another house without selling this one.

Oh, and this coming weekend? Secondborn's birthday. He'll be two. Party's on Saturday. Plus, there's a trip to the local renfaire on Sunday. So it'll be a busy, busy weekend. If my sister-in-law comes into town (with her husband and their three girls), it'll be even busier than that - her husband's birthday is on Sunday.

I'd better not be getting sick. I don't have time for it.

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

Here at work, we "finished" (more or less, anyway) a complete redesign of our main public website, just in time to leap into the rest of the busy season. That would be stressful enough, but we're also sorting out job responsibilities - and as the web group, my boss and I are suspended between Information Technology and the newly-integrated Communications Department. It's nothing as formal or deliberate as a struggle for territory - the tension is a natural result of the fact that both IT and Communications have a direct interest in the website - but the result is about the same. The floor keeps shifting under our feet.

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and /everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

It seems like everything I'm seeing on the news is either immediate bad news, or bodes ill for the future. It's an election year, so naturally I expect a certain amount of silliness, theatrics, and genuine extremism; but these things just seem to be getting worse and worse. At least one of our major political parties is actively determined to dismantle the social safety net (and Pastor Rick Warren, in a recent interview, bravely upheld the right of poor people to starve with dignity rather than have any sort of government aid be made available to them), impose draconian legal requirements on women seeking abortions (which, last I checked, was still a perfectly legal medical procedure), and suppress voting rights under the utterly-transparent guise of preventing voter fraud. If this season hasn't featured a deliberate assault on women's rights, then it's something so close as to be indistinguishable.

Meanwhile, the recession - a problem with a well-known, historically established solution that we apparently lack the collective will to implement - is still lumbering along. Major corporations and their political proxies are actively fighting against any attempt to reduce the damage caused by Global Warming, and in many cases against the broad scientific consensus behind the whole concept. Research into alternative energy sources is almost non-existent, and while we won't run out of oil any time real soon, our entire civilization is entirely reliant of the stuff. (Seriously, without industrial farming methods, we can't feed the world's current population. We can't even feed half of it. A friend of mine makes a pretty good argument that if our current infrastructure were to really collapse, we wouldn't be able to stop at medieval technology levels; it would knock us all the way back to a hunter-gatherer society. And that's after an apocalyptic drop in the human population.)

(I'm beginning to think we deserve it.)

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

A church in Middletown, PA recently decided that they needed to demonstrate how Christians are persecuted by staging a terrorist attack on their own youth group, complete with at least one real gun. This traumatized a fourteen-year-old girl so badly that her mother filed a police report. The Pastor's response, when questioned about this?
"Now we know what we have to do in the future," Lanza said. He said he doesn't plan to shy away from the practice, which he called a valuable learning tool.
There is so much wrong with that, I don't even know where to start. And I tell myself that this is just a bunch of fringe whackaloons, that Christianity hasn't really come to this, but right now I'm having trouble believing it.

The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

One of the blogs that I read regularly - Accidental Historian and Unreasonable Faith seem the likeliest two candidates - observed a while back that the Roman Empire knew how to make aqueducts, and plumbing, and various other things that were essentially gone by the Middle Ages. Somewhere in there, people just decided that they didn't want to know how to do those things anymore. It took centuries to recover and rebuild that knowledge.

I look at the anti-vaxxers, and I can't help wondering if I'm watching our current civilization do much the same thing.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

...And I'm one of the lucky ones. I have a job. I have medical care. I have a wonderful marriage, and a spectacular (if exhausting and occasionally infuriating) pair of boys. I have money. If I can stay in this job another twelve years or so, I'll have retirement - and that's pretty damned rare these days. I can afford food - hell, I can afford to eat out. My problems are First World Problems - stressful and annoying, to be sure, but hardly life-threatening.

But still I'm stuck with this terrible lethargy. It's hard to focus. It's hard to remember what needs to be done, let alone do it. Those two days off really helped, but they weren't enough. I still have this feeling of being worn away, little by little; of being... not stuck, exactly, but still unable to change direction; of things spinning slowly but inevitably out of control. I'm sure that's what got me to thinking of Yeats.

So I'm going to take a deep breath. I'm going to stop trying do Everything, Right Now. I'm going to go to sleep as soon as I get the boys down, and if I can I'll get a good night's rest. And in the morning, when my head's on straight again and I can actually look at problems as things that have solutions, I'll pick something manageable and fix it. And then I'll do it again, with something else. And eventually, things will fall into some sort of order. Right?


1 comment:

  1. And this would be why I can't watch the news anymore. It's barely more bearable when I'm reading articles online. But yeah... this.

    I hear ya. And (again) I'm glad you're feeling better today :) But oh, I hear you.


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