Real World 1
Adam’s curse: not death, but labor, the rudeness of the alarm, the digits glowing heartlessly: 5:55 AM. Henry David Thoreau you ain’t:
We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn*, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep.
Walden, Chapter 2
No, you’re of this ilk:
Little is to be expected of the day, if it can be called a day, to which we are not awakened by our Genius, but by the mechanical nudgings of some servitor [buzz or ring or melliferous radio voice]. That man who does not believe each day contains an earlier, more sacred, and auroral hour than he has yet profaned, has despaired life, and is pursuing a descending and darkening way.
You’re, let’s say, a resource teacher for severely mentally disabled students in Mississippi or South Carolina. Cutbacks mean you’re working 1.25 jobs, that your free periods are long gone, that you’re lucky if you manage 20 minutes for lunch. Although mandated by federal law, meetings concerning disabled children’s IEPs are virtually impossible to coordinate. Having the required individuals free at the same time – classroom teachers, speech therapists, school psychologists, and principals – is like trying to solve a Rubik’s cube while riding a roller coaster. They – whoever they are (the top 1%? K-Street lobbyists? Smiling State legislators? The voters? All /none /a combination of the above?) – whoever they are literally expect you somehow to do the impossible.
No, for you, the dawn doesn’t “awaken infinite expectations.”
Ronald Reagan’s Body Lies A Mouldering in the Grave
Somehow the nation has elected a sociopath as president who once supported choice and wrote checks to Democratic candidates but who know seems hellbent on accelerating global warning. Despite the historical lessons that trickle down economics doesn’t work and deregulation can cause financial meltdowns a la 2008, he is gutting environmental regulations and, aided and abetted by Republicans in Congress, has passed a tax cut for the 1% that has created a gargantuan budget deficit.
Despite the Romanesque Super Bowl Halftime extravaganzas, we don’t have enough money to repair aging bridges, to hire fireman, much less to provide healthcare for our children.
The Real World 2
Meanwhile, back in Mississippi or South Carolina in a public school that possesses all the aesthetic warmth of a juvenile detention center, emails sprout in your in-box like the heads of a hydra – each expecting a prompt reply, each unanswered one burrowing into your brain like parasites, calcifying the neurons, overloading the circuitry, shutting it down – only to snap you awake at 3:41 A.M!
Where Have You Gone, Franz Kafka, a Lonely World . . .
Given the material richness of the USA, why are so many people so dissatisfied with contemporary American life?
Wordsworth posits one answer:
THE world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
We live in a world where increasingly our time is devoured by abstractions – meetings that go nowhere, data demanding input, those hydra-headed emails, texts from acquaintances that we glance at and ignore.
A sordid boon indeed.
Of course, Franz Kafka’s Gregor Samsa is the archetype of the harried worker, so caught up in the intricacies of his meaningless job that the first thing he thinks of when he discovers that he has been transformed into a giant insect is that it will be almost impossible to negotiate the public transportation that takes him to his office. He, that “gigantic vermin,” should be this year’s top-selling Halloween costume.
Real World 3
Leave School at 4:10 . . . pick up Abigail from DayCare . . . run in Publix to pick up supper . . . grab bills from the mailbox . . . get Abigail started on her homework . . . cycle through the voicemails . . . empty the dishwasher . . . think for a second about your ex . . . start supper . . . glance at Wolf Blizter’s head flickering on the screen . . . say grace . . . start the bath water . . . read Abigail a bedtime story . . . put off paying the bills . .
Sleep, that knitteth up the raveled sleep of care . . .
I WAKE and feel the fell of dark, not day.
What hours, O what black hoürs we have spent
This night! what sights you, heart, saw; ways you went!
And more must, in yet longer light’s delay.
With witness I speak this. But where I say
Hours I mean years, mean life. And my lament
Is cries countless, cries like dead letters sent
To dearest him that lives alas! away.
I am gall, I am heartburn. God’s most deep decree
Bitter would have me taste: my taste was me;
Bones built in me, flesh filled, blood brimmed the curse.
Selfyeast of spirit a dull dough sours. I see
The lost are like this, and their scourge to be
As I am mine, their sweating selves; but worse.
Gerard Manley Hopkins
[cue magical laughter]