Wednesday, April 09, 2008


I've been thinking a lot lately about what life is all about. It's kind of corny, but for me it has really boiled down to what Val Kilmer said at the end of Tombstone, and I'm paraphrasing a little: "There is no point to life, Wyatt, there is only life. So go out and live it."

When we were kids, didn't we always think there was some goal to achieve, like our life was a story that just had to have a happy ending? It was always about the future. Some day I'll be rich and drive a Ferrari (I'm too tall for one of those by the way, ditto for the Lambourghini).

I hate to say it, but now my only goal is to pave the way for my children to follow the same dreams, and hopefully make them come true. It's not that I've given up on my own dreams, but I don't feel them as passionately as I did before. It could be the lithium...

(I'm joking about the lithium by the way.)

That might seem defeatist, but it makes me happy to release myself from those lofty expectations. My dad always had his head in the future, promising that someday we would own a ranch and raise horses and grow fields of corn. I suppose we came close when we bought a farm back in the eighties. We had no money, but that never stopped dad. Let's just say he found a way to subsidize our little experiment in life, and all told, I wouldn't take it back for the world. Dad was crooked, and I would never in a million years emulate his style, but he had brass ones, and there were some good times in between the depressions.

Now I have my own kids, and thinking about their future and what a responsible parent could do to make it the best it can be is what moves me anymore. Yesterday I was working and Emmett came in and poked me in the neck with Chopsticks. Later he gave me a Black Spiderman tatoo. Then he told me a story. And like so many times when the kids, so animated and beautiful, go into their tales, I don't hear what they are saying. I'm mesmerized by their faces. Emmett brought me back to my high school reunion when I attempted to talk with Dennis, the king of our graduating class. Dennis was on my football team, and I saw him in the bar where I was playing pool. The winner of the Handsome Harry contest for our school, Craig, interrupted our conversation to tell Dennis a joke. His hat was on backwards and he still looked as young to me as in '83. His face was alight, so eager to please Dennis. Just like my son before me.

I still bear the weight of that night, when I realized after ten post-high-school-years, I was still that awkward kid, invisible to the royal elite. But now I am Dennis to the three most important people in my world. The least I can do is shed the past and pave for the future.

I'm certainly trying.

And what makes me such a special dad. One simple thing: I never grew up. And everyone knows it. Three days ago, Jackson wrote the word "poop" in invisible ink and his spy-pad, the writing only visible under a black light. His pen has such a light where the eraser would normally be, and as I walked in I saw the word just before he clicked it off and put on his guilty/innocent face.

"Did I just see the word poop!"

"How did you know?!"

"I saw it."

"But how did you read it so fast?"

"It's what I call a sight-word. The kind that is instantly recognizable. It's not like I had to go," I wore a dopey face and pursed my lips, "puh... oooooooo... puh..." I pondered the phoenetic sounds then said with more confidence, "Puh oooo puh. Hey, wait a minute, that's poop!"

He was still laughing when I put him to bed.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Shell Game

I'm reading an absolutely frightening book called The Shell Game. It's a political thriller forecasting the inevitable conclusion of modern events. Its detractors will label the author as a liberal loon, a radical and conspiracy theorist. But nobody could justifiably call his work under-researched.

My friend Eric had me read a book a while back regarding Peak Oil. I don't remember the title exactly, but I'm sure it is still on my shelf. It really freaked me out. Badly. For a while I told all my friends about it, the implications of just a shortage of oil. Forget about the taps going dry. It only takes for oil to cost more in oil to retrieve to cause the dominos to fall, a situation that could possibly already exist.

My friends would smile and nod and ask patronizingly, "How long do we have?"

The fact is that we, as Americans, have no clue what's really going on in Washington, even those that do listen to NPR. We can debate whether or not whistle-blowers are telling the truth or not, if the Patriot Act really is necessary or is just an intentional and aggressive erosion of our rights. We take sides by choosing Democrat or Republican, as if either choice will make a difference. There isn't a politician out there that has a chance of getting his or her party nomination, much less elected to the presidency, who will do what is necessary to put our people in a position to survive the end of cheap energy. We think we live in a democracy, that grand a beautiful illusion, but we do not. We are ruled by money—a shitload of money.

Those of you that have known me know that I have been a Bush supporter. That has officially come to an end. Will I vote for Obama or Hillary? Not on your life. Not unless there is no other choice. I will "waste" my vote on an independent candidate that sings the right song. In my opinion, if the right candidate did ascend to the presidency, he or she would be murdered within a year. Like I said, money rules, and money kills. I just hope that our hero will be carrying a grenade, pin pulled. We need a champion. To quote The Shell Game:

The brakes are shot and civilization is being diverted, instructed to gaze in the rearview mirror as we drive ourselves off a cliff, only you're too busy micro-managing your life to see what's happening.

What would you do to survive if there was no more food at the grocery stores? Or if water no longer poured from your faucet?

And if you think that isn't possible, consider that it is oil that creates the fertilizers that coax the soil into producing agricultural products at unsustainable rates. The population has grown in proportion to that capacity. Without oil, food production drops, and with it so too the population. It's that simple. Add to that the conundrum of our global economy. We used to be an agrarian society, but now we import most of the food we eat. Our farm lands are being paved over. So if food can no longer be imported, then where is it going to come from? Answer: nowhere.

I know most readers have developed distaste for what I am saying. That's ok. I get it. But I have kids to take care of, and turning away from inconvenient truths is no way of going about it. I don't have a plan yet. But it's developing.