Thursday, November 04, 2004

"All dressed up and no-where to go..."

There’s a bit of wisdom people quote from time to time— I think from Matthew 6:34— that tells us not to fret overmuch about tomorrow’s troubles; today’s are enough to deal with.

I take it to mean there’s no profit in making yourself crazy over things you can’t change while you’re occupied with present emergencies.

This election is history. In the fullness of time people will digest events and gradually recognize that the universe is undeniably different from what they’ve been telling themselves.

Do we really want to waste the next month, week, day, or even two breaths worrying about what our recent opponents are saying to each other?


A lot of us on all sides have been held in thrall through this campaign, stunned by the atrocities of external enemies, and thunderstruck by the perversity of people we thought were allies. On one hand, I feel ready to get back to my life. On the other hand, I see my life can never again be exactly as it was, because the world is not as I thought it was.

There are people who plunge into tasks when called upon, and others who make promises they have no intention of fulfilling. Some of us learned in grade school that it drains far more energy wheedling and cajoling the latter to perform, than to go ahead and work with those who are willing.

Coalition of the Willing.

It isn’t really a heroic phrase, is it? But like Mark Twain said of Wagner’s music, “It’s a lot better than it sounds.” Would you rather have ten friends you can depend on or a hundred who have to be dragged along against their will? The answer helps figure how you spend your time and energy in your daily life, too. Good “touchstone.” I have some ideas for people to try regardless of your politics, some that have helped me from time to time.

Get out of the house. Out of the apartment. Out of your hovel. Quit assembling those explosive devices. Show up at the local office of your favorite political party, and volunteer to stuff envelopes, or lick stamps. Join a Mac User Group. Play music with an orchestra, or sing with a choir, or start learning to play banjo or harmonica at a local music shop. Serve meals at a homeless shelter. Rake the leaves one day for a neighbor who’s only got one lung. Volunteer at the Zoo, or the local animal shelter.

Go to the library and offer to shelve books. Visit the hospital and see if they need someone to read stories to kids. Visit a convalescent home and volunteer to play checkers or chat with the residents. Offer to teach a course (you must have SOME skill to share...) through your city recreation / parks department.

If you’re really brave, visit the jails, or the prisons, or cancer wards or intensive care unit at the hospital. Even if you’re not religious, you can connect with ministers and find a way to help distribute food, or paint houses, or babysit, or teach an adult to read, or just hold a dying person’s hand and provide a little companionship.

These are things you can do that transcend any petty bullshit bickering over politics. They will connect you to people you may learn to treasure, regardless of whether they agree with your politics. You may persuade and be persuaded. You will likely be changed, but likely in ways that satisfy. You don’t have to be a genius, or a scholar, or a magician, or a college graduate. You don’t have to have any special qualifications for a lot of activities that can make a big difference for other people.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

David -- I know that's you. Who else could it be? How are you? Where are you? The last time I ever spoke to you was in Sept. 2001, Sept. 8th or 9th. A whole lot has changed in the world since then. I miss having communication with you. My e-mail hasn't changed, it's If you see this, please drop me an e-line. Merry Christmas! Shannon

1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You say, don't stop blogging, but you have. Keep blogging!

This is Bill Sakovich writing you an e-mail from Saga, Japan. We were in the same class (such as it was) at FEK HS. I'd have written you a personal note, but can't find a means of contact. I'm at


7:15 PM  

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