Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Slogging Through Quicksand

I have a nightmare that reoccurs rather frequently; I'm running as fast as I can from something or someone, but making very little forward progress. It's as if my limbs are made of concrete or I'm running in something thick, like quicksand. I never find out what happens to me when whatever it is that's after me catches up.

There are days when I feel like I'm slogging through quicksand. Everything is passing me by. Life's problems just cannot be outrun on days like that and the old "fight or flight" instinct that's hotwired inside my genetic structure is pretty much limited to the "fight" option, as flight has been eliminated. My dream is probably my subconscious' way of dealing with the frustration of days when I can't run away from the problems that face me.

Our society seems to run on pressure. Europeans look at us like we're crazy, while many of their countries have legislated vacations for their people. Sure, we're more productive than they are in terms of industry and business and we're busy policing the world from bad guys, but are we happier? We're becoming a county of short attention spans and an addiction to quick fixes and adrenalin rushes in everything from entertainment to religion, but the frustration of trying to keep ahead of the next guy, the next disaster or the next family crisis keeps us unfulfilled.

Supposedly big disasters cause us to "reexamine" our lives and priorties. There was a lot of talk about concentrating on what was "important" after 9/11 and we'll probably hear a lot of it in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I'm not dismissing that idea, since Socrates said that the unexamined life wasn't worth living, but we Americans rarely look beyond the surface of issues anymore, choosing rather to polish over the readily viewed imperfections in our society and in our personal lives. When someone calls on us to do so, as did Jimmy Carter with his so-called "Malaise" address to the county, still reeling from Watergate, Nixon's resignation and the aftermath of Vietnam, he was lambasted by many on the Right as a defeatist, leading to Reagan's election and a "New Dawn" in America. All Ronnie did, as far as I could ever tell, was run up a big deficit and tell us that we were the greatest country on earth; he never really addressed the core problems that Carter was trying to get us to see.

Oh well, that's the American Way. Shoot the messenger and ask questions later.

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