Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2020

Archive for the month “April, 2020”

Strangers In Our Own Land

 

Strangers In Our Own Land

You, me, and the crazy neighbors – all of us on this globe are living – trapped – by a new Draconian rule. 7.8 billion People are being told to somehow, ,avoid each other. This edict has been given the benign sounding name of “Social Distancing.” Theoretically, it is supposed to help to impede the spread of the virus that is making its way around the world. It may very well do that, but it is having another effect that may be even more toxic. That is when “Social Distancing” becomes “Social Isolation” and turns us all into strangers in our own land.

With the everpresent tentacles of the Internet more and more activities that had always been handled face to face between people have become online functions that are now done in the solitary glow of a laptop computer. With the viral pandemic erecting barriers everywhere even more of our daily meetings with real people have become impersonal and hidden behind masks. Looking in the mirror hides us from ourselves.

Things that had once been little more than luxuries have become commonplace. Supermarkets are becoming little more than warehouses as everyone places their orders online and anonymous people wearing gloves and masks drop off their orders in plastic bags outside their door.

Doctors are making diagnoses on Skype. Banks have locked their lobby doors and become online and drive-through businesses. Restaurants of all kinds are serving curbside customers only. Nobody dares to shake hands anymore. Want to give someone a hug? People will run away like you were on fire. If you need a hug – Good Luck.

“Social Distancing” is such a horrid term. There is nothing Social about it and it has absolutely nothing to do with Distance. It is all about keeping people apart, away from each other, isolating 7.8 billion people. I don’t know if we have enough room to keep everyone sufficiently isolated to please the self-anointed “experts.”

 

 

“We’re going to need a bigger boat”

 

Don’t get me wrong. I know there is a virulent virus out there – along with countless others that can be fatal. So can the Measles. So can Polio (that’s still out there, folks), and so can dining on Gas Station Sushi every night. Life can be dangerous. Let’s face it – None of us are going to get out of this thing alive. This virus that is the talk of the town is far less fatal than many other things out there. The hysteria on our TVs 24 hours a day being one of them.

“Social Distancing” creates “Social Isolation” which creates “Social Dehumanization.” The nonstop and constantly contradictory “reporting” fills up the space between the Joe Namath Medicare Insurance ads and pushes people farther apart in many ways. When this viral circus has left town there are going to be a lot of people who will have trouble readjusting to normal social behaviors. How many kids are going to believe that there is a viral boogeyman hiding under their bed at night? How many Social Misfits are being created behind their homemade masks and rubber gloves?

I for one hope that the term “Social Distancing” goes away soon and joins other linguistic hot buttons that became both familiar to us all and incredibly annoying like “Y2K” and “But Wait! There’s more!”

Springtime!

 

The other day I saw a picture that someone had posted on Facebook. They had clipped the first flowers of the season from their yard and put them in a vase for all to see. It was a beautiful display of bright yellow Daffodils

Daffodils are, to the best of my knowledge and experience, the first flowers to bloom in Springtime. There may be others that bloom first, but in my neighborhood the Daffodils always lead the way into Spring. They are an explosive yellow sign that Winter is over and that we have survived. They are a bright burst of color announcing the renewal of Life for another year.

I don’t know much about flowers, I appreciate them and their diverse beauty, but my academic knowledge is meager indeed. If I like how they look they are flowers. If I don’t like them they are weeds. That doesn’t exactly make me into the reincarnation of Luther Burbank does it?

When I see those first flowers of the Season it lifts my spirits, thawing my frozen soul from the glacier of yet another cruel Winter. It’s like they are a reward for having made it through. When I see those yellow blooms I cannot help but smile. The air may still be bitter and I may still be wearing my heavy coat and gloves but those Daffodils get my attention with their message. I can’t bring myself to cut them and bring them into the house. I can see them from the kitchen window. That’s enough for me and the flowers stay where they look the best.

I’ve thought about planting some other flowers that are Early Bloomers. Tulips are very nice and colorful as well. I haven’t ever done it though. I’m not the kind who enjoys digging in the dirt. Farmer John I’m not. I did plant corn one time many years ago. It grew nicely even though it was in a large planter next to my desk in a fifth floor office. No, I’m content to see the Daffodils through that window. I don’t know who first planted them there in the backyard, but “Thank You” whoever you were.

Daffodils are my favorite flowers. Yellow is my favorite color. The yellow makes me think of the sun and the warming rays that keep me alive. And what is a better backyard reminder of that than the Daffodil?

I’m going to keep the picture of that vase with the Daffodils. It will last longer than the flowers outside of my kitchen window and I can turn to it whenever I feel the need – in those hours when I feel the cold creeping up on me figuratively or literally. That and it’s just plain pretty.

And isn’t that good enough?

Below is a poem about Daffodils by William Wordsworth. It is perhaps his best known work.

 

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

BY WILLIAM WORDSWORTH

 

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

 

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

 

The waves beside them danced; but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

A poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company:

I gazed—and gazed—but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:

 

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.

 

Faces

Faces.

Everybody has one with the exception of those people we meet who turn out to have two, but we try to avoid them. As a youth in Pennsylvania there was a character who had been in a horrible accident and was known locally as “No Face Charlie.” That is another story for another day.

What I’ve been thinking about lately is what The Face, my face, your face, everyone’s face, tells us about the person. It’s not a matter of “beauty.” What constitutes beauty changes constantly. A great beauty from the 1890s in America would today be posing for the “Before” picture in an ad for the Weight Watchers diet program.

When we meet somebody for the first time we hear their name but, more often than not, we instantly forget it because we are looking at their face –  making a million snap decisions based on what we see there. “Is this person friendly or hostile? Do I find them attractive or not? Is that their real hair color or a dye job?” First impressions are important and in many cases completely erroneous. We all try to make a good first impression so we strive to look our best, hide our flaws, and behave like a civilized human being. We may dress up, shine our shoes and make sure our zippers are up, but it is what we show in our face that says to the world who we really are.

When I’m seeing someone  for the first time I find that my initial judgement is at the corners of their mouth. Are their lips going up at the corners or down, or are they held tight in a straight line? I’m not thinking about what i’m seeing, it’s just an unconscious response. My brain puts it into a file folder and my eyes move on. Is this person looking at me or are they trying to locate the nearest exit? Do they look happy to be meeting me or are they silently calculating how long it will take to get away, having already made their decision about me? All of this takes place in a few  seconds at best – just long enough to say, “I’m sorry – your name again is…?” When I get to the end of my analysis of their face I put the various pieces together and make my thumbs up or down decision.

There are those people who we meet in our day to day life who make instant and lasting impressions on us. How else would you explain “Love at first sight” or “I wouldn’t want to meet him in a dark alley” reactions? I know that there have been people whom I’ve met and took an immediate dislike or distrust to. Those have usually been people running for public office. But there have also been some, a few, people who upon meeting I would have felt safe giving them the keys to my car or my bank account numbers.

Have I ever felt the “Love at first sight” reaction? On an hourly basis. I’m an easy mark. Of course it never gets beyond that initial hormonal backflip. Otherwise I would be known as a stalker. I just chalk it up to an instantaneous response to a collection of facial features that I find attractive; both eyes are in their proper location, the corners of the mouth stop before getting all the way to the ears, there are ears. I guess that I’m not all that fussy. I can think of only 2 or 3 times in my life when I acted on my “Love at first sight” reaction. That girl was gorgeous. She hit all my buttons. It didn’t work out well. Those fourth grade romances rarely do. I was a little older when I felt that immediate tumble again – but Ann-Margret didn’t feel the same way about me. The last time I fell head over heels in love with someone upon first seeing their wonderful face was with a real live person who existed in my real world. I tried to get her to notice me, but I really don’t think she ever even knew my name. if she had known it I don’t think that when she saw me she would have screamed, “That’s him Officer!”

They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul. That looking deep into someone’s eyes will tell you all you need to know. I don’t know about that. What with Lasik and cataract surgeries, colored contact lenses, corneal transplants and breast implants I don’t think that the eyes can hold my attention as well as they would have in Shakespeare’s time. Does that make me shallow? Probably.

Looking at someone’s face when meeting them is quite an exercise in human nature. It may have started as a survival technique. That first impression may have triggered a “Fight or Flight” response at some time before morphing into the social event it is today. What I find even more interesting is how the human face and it’s components change over time along with my ability to read them. That first impression may give me the basics, but over time the more subtle things can be learned with a quick glance at a face. I discern if the other person is angry or sad, feeling well or poorly, even whether I’m about to be kissed or I should get ready to duck.

The human face is a magnificent puzzle with so many pieces that can tell so much. Conditions can and do change not only what those pieces can tell you,but whether or not you can interpret them correctly. It is akin to trying to read someone’s mind and we all know how dangerous that can be. I can’t tell you the number of times I have read the signs to mean one thing when they actually meant the exact opposite and I end up running for figurative cover being followed by an icy stare.

While William Shakespeare may have written “The eyes are the windows to the soul” I tend to think that they are more like a chain link fence – allowing you to see whatever is made visible to you, but keeping you from getting too close a look at what is hidden away. We will all continue looking at someone’s face and making those snap judgments. It’s human nature and who knows – you might just fall in love. 

 

 

 

I Hope You Are All Still Out There

Dear and loyal readers,

I closed down this blog at the end of 2019 – I was tired and I didn’t have anything to talk about. Well that certainly has changed. We are now in a new world and what I would like to do is to kickstart a new version of “Down The Hall On Your Left.”

What I propose is a semi-regular format, no more than once a week. It would be a personal journey like the first blog was, but this time it will be different I sense.

So…Here is the initial entry. It is called:

THE WORLD

 

Oh, how the world has changed. My world, your world, our world.

In what seems overnight all bets are off. The game is canceled and don’t get close to anyone. Gee, Thanks, and have a nice day.

A Virus – an entity that is neither alive nor not alive has come into our personal world. It has barged into my world and…the only word I can think of is that I…RESENT it.

I have a life, my life, my only life and why should I have to withdraw into a cocoon, giving up everything? The virus can end my life the talking heads say. Isn’t that what all of the “Precautions’ have done?

I’m pissed! Can you tell?

I know! I know! Life isn’t fair. There are no sure things. There never have been and under the best of circumstances there never will be. But, Dammit, I have things I want to do, places I want to go, and I can’t accomplish any of this with everyone staying six fearful feet away from me.

I am not a youngster anymore and I’ve had a life filled with some fun and wonderful experiences, but I still have plans. I may be old, but I’m not dead. These things that I want to do are more than simple day dreams and wishes. They are things that I must do to survive. There are Stories to be written, Spotlights to be felt. There is Love to be made, and Beaches to be stretched out on. To borrow from Dylan Thomas, “I will not go gently into that good night.” I will have to be dragged away kicking and screaming.

My todays and tomorrows are the products of my yesterdays. There is no denying that. Some of my yesterdays weren’t too great and they have left my todays with some scar tissue. However, I refuse to accept that my tomorrows are to be dictated by something that started out dripping in a Chinese market.

OK, I think you’ve picked up on my thoughts – virtually all of them are negative about the virus and its impact on my life. I like it less than even cold weather and Blue Cheese.

So what? What am I going to do about it? There is no place for me to lodge a Formal Complaint. There is no person I can stand in front of to rant, rave, and shake my fist at. There is nothing I can do except take a walk and sit on a bench by myself. I’m not good at that.

“You have plans? Forget them. Stay home and don’t do anything.”

This whole virus thing is, almost universally, depressing. How could it not be depressing when every aspect of my life, your life, everybody’s life, has been thrown up into the air? I understand the reality that this is a sickness that can be fatal thereby ending any and all plans, but if I am going to be imprisoned inside an ever-shrinking solitary world I am going to let my feelings be known.

The frustration I have squeezing my head and heart is pushing me into acting in a way I do not like in myself. I’m letting everything translate into a short temper. I find myself lashing out at whoever gets too close without offering up a solution. I lash out at the television, the electric sputum box of our time. Even dogs and cats give me a wide berth.

I’m not like this, except now I am.

What do I propose to do about all of this? What can I do about this?

There are too many forces in play that are beyond my control and even my comprehension. Science, Politics, and Anger are all parts of what is happening. Which part has dominance over my world changes daily.

Just about every day I get my carcass out of a chair, put on my jacket and hat and go for a walk. Do I like going for a walk? No. But I do it anyway. It gets me out of the house/internment camp and I suppose it is good physical therapy. It must be good for me because it hurts like hell.

I am able to get some sunshine on those days when the sky doesn’t look like an extreme close-up of a bowl of mashed potatoes. Most days have been high-carb lately. Getting some sunlight is crucial to me. It is a good source of Vitamin D in non-pill form and it helps to keep me alive. I’m a lot like a sunflower. I turn to the sun for life giving light. Without it I turn toward other sunflowers for solace or I wither.

So, I dress appropriately and head down the driveway. If I turn left I walk 4/10ths of a mile down to a bench that is by a church and a small rock garden. I sit there until the swelling in my left ankle goes down and then I chalk up another 4/10ths to get me back home. If I see other people on the street they mostly turn to avoid eye contact. Those who do talk as they avoid me are babbling irrationally and grinning like painted clowns.

If I turn right at the end of the driveway I travel on uneven sidewalks for a few blocks and walk up to the drive-through window of a small coffee shop. I tell them that I’m out driving around in my new invisible car. They smile nervously and hand me my purchase. If I continue down the road I eventually end up at that same bench only I have a cuppa to go along with my swollen ankle.

This is how I am doing my part to “Flatten the curve” on this virus thing. I walk. I drink coffee.  I swell.

I’m being a responsible citizen they tell me.

What is the hardest part of this New World Order for me to live with? It is the edict that I am not to get any closer than 6 feet to another person. I’m already starved for human contact – this doesn’t make it any easier. The theory is that I might either catch a cootie or give a cootie to the other person who dares to get too close. Without human touch what is the point? Without feeling the caress or even just the incidental contact of another human I stop caring. I give up all hope, and the cooties win.

This is where I find myself today; alone in a crowded world, needing to reach out to another person who is afraid of living like a human.

And so I go for a walk – 4/10ths of a mile. I sit on a bench and look at the painted rocks in the garden while my ankle tries to heal itself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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