Here We Are

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How’s it going for you? I alternate between dumb optimism and informed panic. I think we’re in the grip of the Boomer Decline, where we project our innate feeling we don’t know what we’re doing onto the broader population of people we didn’t go to school with. The tolerances for such instability wrecking our emotional opinion of the world are small, and shrinking. I’m not here to decry the death of democracy, or the chance of the market imploding further, or any idea why people want to go to a theater to watch Tom Cruise hang on the side of a 787. I am here to convince you (and mostly myself) of our ability to stand up to the old way of doing things.

Remember newspapers? You could say they still exist, what with digital subscriptions to the Times, the Post, and the Journal. But what’s gone is the guiding sense of context, the small choices of what’s above and below the fold that add up to a rhythm we invest in to keep our basic shit together. Constant breaking news throws away that context, and no institution or Cronkite father figure is there to replace it. The biggest drop since 2006? What did you say then? If the market rallies, it’s the biggest one since when — they’re asking you to process the headline to derive insight, and you’re struggling to find someone smarter than you. It’s pathetic, and it’s our fault. We’re not doing the work of discovering the boat we’re all adrift in.

Writing is an important tool for talking to ourselves. We don’t think we’re worth listening to, borne of free love and strawberry skies. Yet it’s showtime and the audience awaits. Letting the words wash over us is vaguely soothing as we con ourselves into keeping going. Forget images, how about moods and harmonics float around us. Think the feedback distortion of the beginning of I Feel Fine. Sure that’s interesting, but the power of the rhythm section sculpted by the lead guitar figure that jumps out of it is the voice of the generation. We don’t have anything to apologize for, but what are we doing with it? The pulse is where it’s at.

Is there anybody going to listen to my story? You tell me. Something about the National Health? The controlled lurch of the band spoke to the yearning of our time. Resolution would have to wait. We really had no idea how good we had. I grew up with an older brother and sister, veterans of our father’s first marriage. During the pandemic, we have an afternoon family call, with them sitting there dispensing that soothing something that comes from being 7 or so years older. Being half siblings has no bearing, certainly not any diminishing of the power they represent along the concourse of humor, shared history, and especially the differences. Allies in some but not all the right ways.

Here in Substack we nurture our new families, the kind we fall into and choose to accept. Your mission, Jim, is to preserve the world order as it’s been handed down to you. Should you choose to accept this, you also accept the burden of believing in yourself. Not blindly, or aggressively, but righteously in only the way you can. Talk of democracy is cheap. It’s our time to stand up to the high hard fastball on the inside corner. If you can’t believe in yourself, believe in your parent’s vision of what to stand for. If you can’t elect the majority, take a page from the other guys and leverage the minority. Surely there’s something we can learn here, there, everywhere.

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