As the home clear-out continues we’ve uncovered various old papers, including junior school reports about a very young me. These have made interesting reading. For example, I discovered that often the subjects I liked best were not those I got my best grades in. I was puzzled by this at first, until I began to piece it together. I can recall, just, that very often the subjects I truly loved were those that I loved for themselves, not for the class ranking I might or might not achieve or the exam mark I hoped to gain. In fact I didn’t really care about that at all, and can recall only too clearly being severely dressed down in front of the whole class by an irate Mrs. Axton, who disliked my attitude to History — which I adored. Even after her attempt at public humiliation I continued love reading about History.
It’s possible that learning, or education as we like to call it, happens just because we love something and that it is essential that we don’t particularly care what others think or what the right answers are supposed to be. Not being ‘right by the book’ in many subjects is important, since there are so many ways of interpreting what we think we know. Isn’t that what Philosophy teaches us? Perhaps not caring about being right, about not toeing anyone’s line, is vital for real learning, real understanding.
January, as you probably know, is named after Janus the Roman god of doorways, and hence the entrance to the year. Janus is usually depicted as a god with two faces, one looking forwards and one looking backwards – considering the new but unable to stop considering the old. That’s roughly the way I feel after four years of the ‘president’ and most of a year of Covid.
It seems I’m not alone in having my attention caught by the past. A tiny minority of Republicans in the House and Senate are still trying to overturn the election results. It’s not that they actually believe they can do it, it’s just that those eyeing the next election want to curry favor with the former ‘president’s’ more lunatic supporters, and think that by acting like him they’ll scoop those votes for next time around. That’s another kind of two-faced January behavior.
Reports of a chaotic and bungled roll out of the Covid vaccine seem to suggest that this White House can’t do anything right, yet again. Let us remember that. Let us remember it as the current ‘president’ being unable and unwilling to do anything at all to help the citizens of this nation. I’m almost relieved that his callousness is revealing itself so obviously.
Of the things left unconsidered over the past four years climate change would be one of the most important. A deep pit of skepticism, doubt and ignorance has been excavated beneath our feet, as alternative facts have caused many of us to doubt all facts that don’t fit our prejudices. Now is the time to keep insisting on the importance of our environment. Eventually even the deniers will change their tune.
New Year’s Eve this year (perhaps every year) is a time to reassess what the last twelve months has been. I like to think that this ghastly year has been full of positive things, if we care to look. I’ve learned that we need to run around in circles less, that people we love are the only items that’re worth caring about, and that we all need to be kind, to look out for our neighbors. It’s been a year (for me) when all those restless ego desires for getting ahead and getting things done have finally revealed themselves as hollow. And at the forefront of this has been a ‘president’ who is all about himself, his fragile ego and what it requires to make him feel less like an abandoned baby. Yes, this year has been, for me, about watching the way the ego can run out of control.
For others the year has been cruel. And to me this conveyed that we need to be kind to all members of our world, always, as often as possible, and that we can start right now.
In the midst of winter there are bright berries on the trees, telling us that a Spring time of growth awaits. It’s never about the tree; it’s always about the growth. Happy New Year.
The urge to clear things out, to get rid of stuff, has been strong today. Perhaps it’s because we’re all fed up with 2020, eager to get rid of this ‘president’ , desperate to be able to do more than we’re currently restricted from doing. Whatever it is, the charity shops are the beneficiaries – and since I have a couple of places that I like that actually repurpose things, or sell them at very nominal prices to those who need them, I feel good about what I’m doing. I’m not just helping to top up some landfill somewhere, at least as far as I know.
I suspect we all have too much stuff. Perhaps it’s time to pass some of it on.
I’ve a tale to tell. This year, again, the turkey was done much later than anticipated. I couldn’t understand it. It went into the oven on time. The National Turkey Federation had supplied a time scale for the turkey weight, and so I couldn’t go wrong, could I? Pushing a meat thermometer into a still-not-cooked turkey showed us that something was not quite right. But what? The oven was almost new, and not a cheap one, either.
So the next day, as a pie was being reheated, I thad an idea. I dug into the kitchen drawer and pulled out a separate oven thermometer. It was an old model that clipped onto the racks and had the stains of years of use. I compared the reading with the one on the fancy-dancy digital read out of the oven. Over 30 degrees difference. The oven claimed to be pushing 375 when it was barely producing 340. But this was a new oven! How could this be? And yet – it was.
Trusting technology to do whatever it is it claims to do is not always realistic. Blindly believing whatever it is the latest source tells us may not always be the best option.
A full moon this evening, sailing through a clear sky, reminded me that things take the time they take, that change is never instantaneous, and that reorienting our world will take time. It’ll take more than us noticing that the Natural world is under threat; or that the poor need help; or that a few Republicans joined with Democrats to over-ride the ‘president’s’ veto of a bill.
Things don’t turn around overnight. But they do turn around. If we work at them.
The former ‘president’ has refused to sign the Covid relief bill that would have saved millions from near destitution. He behaves, yet again, as a petulant thug who is determined to hurt the vulnerable. Why? Because to him the poor are not worth his regard, and anyway, they probably wouldn’t vote for him, would they? It’s class warfare, really. He wants to make so many problems that the incoming administration will be struggling right from the get-go, and he doesn’t care who gets hurt.
The two things Americans most fear – skyrocketing medical bills and unemployment from circumstances beyond their control – have come together this year. The ‘president’ did absolutely nothing about either. Now he’s repeating the same trick.
Boxing Day (today), was spent tidying up, browsing on leftovers, and reading my Christmas presents – in this case Barack Obama’s “A Promised Land”. Not ‘THE promised land’ notice, something that’s given us, because it’s up to us to fulfill the promise this land, our land, holds. Brilliant, intimate, and exactly what we need after the previous four nightmare years. Here’s a book that reminds us that it’s perfectly natural to have a vision for a better United States, and why we need to make that happen. It is the perfect way to inspire us all, weary as we may feel.
I always seem to get exactly what I want and need for Christmas (Thank you, family, thank you.)
Christmas: and all that is included when one has four excited grandchildren visiting. I know there was turkey involved, and plenty of delicious vegetables, and a lot of wrapping paper. Oh, and laughter and squeals of delight and fun and love. The rest is a bit of a blur. But I shan’t ever forget the feeling.