I spent my entire adult life (the prime years) often dwelling, but also denying, that I was going to die one day. Duh, an over-simplification. When those thoughts pushed their way into my wandering psyche, the sensation of choking fear always overwhelmed me for a few minutes. I‘d make a hasty escape, take a few moments and a deep breath--- banality was my shield.
These days as I approach the threshold of the Valley of Finality I find that the panicked expectations have given way to comfortable inevitability. It’s coming. Don’t know when. Don’t care a lot anymore. And until I hear the knocking on the door I lounge in God’s countenance.
Emotional ups and downs have leveled off. An air of pleasurable acceptance envelopes my day. Blood pressure is down. The intricacies of living, far less complicated.
For decades I loved to laugh then lost that inclination for a few years prior to last spring’s heart surgery. Almost everything contained some humor. It felt as good as sex and was much easier to get. I’ve gotten that back with a new twist. It is now easy to recognize how absurd some things are that people (myself included) say and do! Often now, my cheer is spontaneous and jumps out of my mouth before and after the words. People must think I’m the village idiot. . . . . or maybe, savant ?
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Last week I was elected to the Town Commission of Inglis, Florida. I ran because I care about pending issues and events that will change the town - - - hopefully for the better!
Inglis is a Gulf coast community of about 1,200 people. Registered voters number just above 900 and the vote total was just above 250 (off year election). I was the top vote getter by a slim margin which was a surprise as I was the new kid on the block and the other three candidates were incumbents or repeaters. I could not explain that at first and neither could the local political wonks I shared a celebratory, post-election, dinner with. After some retrospective review I think I’ve come up with the answer.
On Election Day, most of the candidates strung out behind the invisible boundary between the entrance to the polling place and the camp-presence of hopefuls.
Candidates and supporters stood next to the road in front of Town Hall. Each faction waving signs and candidates waving at passing traffic. Most of the passersby didn’t wave back if a man was driving. As the day wore on, many cars, and the faces within, became more familiar but still, most didn’t wave back. The majority appeared to be from Yankeetown at the end of the road, west of us. You could assume they had no vested interest in the Inglis election, or they weren’t interested in getting chummy with political types.
After a few hours of the highway version of “hail and farewell”, I was taken by the frequency the same people passed, going and coming. This was noteworthy because the nearest business/shopping hubs, Dunnellon to the East and Crystal River to the South, are eleven miles away. It does help explain why the corner gas/eatery/staples/ and beer convenience store does a land office trade. It also throws some light on probably why two out of three of the national “Dollar Stores” have outlets in a town of 1,200 residents.
Back to the subject at hand; during the last hours of the voting day, one thing about this traffic watching – waving exercise got my attention. I was wearing what I wear most days; a fishing shirt, jeans, a denim jacket and a camouflaged hat. Some men drivers, who waved at me, often before I waved to them, wore camouflage, too. The majority drove earlier model trucks or cars, just like my 1998 Toyota Tacoma with 322,000 miles.
This spontaneous recognition happened so often, it had to be much more than co-incidence.
So now, I have the explanation for the larger favorable vote total. I have a constituency that I was unaware of!
I learned one other fact about politics this day. You must pay close attention to the opposition. If you devote enough scrutiny to their actions you will discover some valuable insight.
One woman, who attends every town council meeting and has the demeanor of someone with a migraine headache, spent a good part of the day doing the things the rest of us were doing - - waving signs and hands (their own). Around five o’clock this person began taking pictures of the opposing candidates. She moved swiftly down the street towards my truck and took several pictures of the Mayor and a lady candidate parked next to me. She couldn’t take my picture because I had walked by her group and crossed the street to visit with a sign waving supporter of "our" faction.
When she noticed my relocation and confabing she started snapping pictures of us. We in turn waved back at the camera and smiled, of course, because there was always a chance that she might send these pics to the “Letters to the Editor”, or the television stations up in Gainesville.
A half an hour later, “Little Miss Sunshine” packed up her lawn chair, sippy cup, and camera and got into her pick-up with the pretend dual exhaust. Her camera batteries must have gone dead.
As she pulled onto the highway we waved happily at her, just as we had been doing to all the recognized motorists who passed our stations. As she passed us it was apparent she still had that migraine and when she got about 50 feet down the road she gave us the finger – disguising the motion in the reflection of the truck’s side mirror. Had I not been paying attention I would have missed this subtle gesture and had she been paying attention she would have seen herself giving herself the bird.
I, of course, was compelled to acknowledge her finger with one of my own. But, since we aren’t friends I didn’t want to give her the wrong impression. This was not surprising behavior that you’d expect from a sixteen year old. However, I thought she looked forty years older ! Which goes to show that actions and reality are sometimes light years apart.
I’m also glad that the picture taking and departing gesture didn’t escalate. I’m thinkin’ that maybe next time I’ll discover the secret handshake. I’m carrying latex gloves now, in anticipation of that event.
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Every day should start and end with a laugh. A prayer or two would be apropos, also. Otherwise an extended uhmmmmmmmmm at sunset might make you feel a little better.
One of my favorite bloggers is Harrison Scott Key whose work appears in my favorite literary magazine The Oxford American.
Ever been a parent or thinking seriously about trying to be one? You’ll love this post: http://www.oxfordamerican.org/articles/2012/oct/28/family-issue/
Enuff Said ??