So I have a lot of weirdo time on my hands. No, not weirdos in my hands… just a lot of ‘hurry up and wait’ time. When I’m running around this maladjusted traffic jam of a hot city, I have time to listen to NPR and even though it’s terribly obvious that Diane Rehm is freaking older than dirt and hard to listen to, when you get used to the drag on her questions, you find out that she is actually pretty damn sharp, awfully clever, and quick witted (if not quick lipped). And while considering the very serious and real problems of the world that Rehm daily invites us to ponder, I have come to a few conclusions. There are just some communities where the mean people congregate. I, unfortunately, live in one of those places. The reason that communities like the one in which I currently reside is so freaking full of hostility is that the people who live here have no sense of community. I meet lots of people who claim to want community and yet act on very short-sighted and self-centered impulses. And since there is so little of any actual communal filial sentiment to be felt on the wind, it is nearly impossible to overcome that nasty selfishness or long-view blindness. Even if you actually arrived here with some semblance of decency and love… it will be the surest source of your downfall. You see, using your turn signals here, to… you know, generously caution your fellow comrades on the road, is actually a signifyer to everyone around here that you are, in fact, a – chump. And after 6 years of living here, I am still the idiot who religiously (as in, that is the only ritualistic thing I do besides drink coffee) use my turn signals. I guess I stubbornly refuse to learn that the other drivers on the courseway will use the information against me; to speed up, or slow down just enough to squeeze me out of the lane or just full on cut into my lane before I’ve actually left it. A recent acquaintance said he purchased his very large amerciana truck just to be bigger than the other cars on the road. He has two small children and does not in any way ‘work the land’ so as to need such a monstrosity of a vehicle. He doesn’t even like to go camping or anything that might require hauling a load of any kind, he just wants to be bigger than the other drivers on the road. In a place where public transportation is a bit of a joke and much driving is a necessity because of the urban sprawl, this seems like a hugely selfish and wasteful approach to dealing with life in the big city.
Which brings me back to my predictions.
I think this won’t last. Just like the real estate bubble that buoyed a failed capital system, this bubble of meanness cannot last. It will pop. Unfortunately, there will be a lot of casualties before things get better. But I predict that parents will take up the act of parenting again. Likely it will come as a result of the failed career paths and a need to live with children who are somewhat enjoyable to be around, because there will be less work available and more home time as a result. Additionally, the materialistic tendencies look vulgar right about now, especially when some of our friends are on the brink of losing housing and livelihood. So I think people will learn how to garden again because canned veggies are very expensive… and who needs to pay “organic” prices when it is easy to grow the same in one’s own backyard with all that non-working time on our hands. The fairytale and green of Oz certainly was attractive when Dorothy was there, but she returned to the comfort of hearth and home when she learned that the glow and glamour at Emerald City was all smoke and mirrors, parlor tricks. It’s about time we started building “serenity bubbles” around our communities. My friend is a stern protector of her “serenity bubble,” not a place to “check out” of the very real troubles of the day, but rather a safe place to be in order to deal with the ugly parts of life. For the last 20 years our society has been forgoing the maintenance of our collective serenity bubble in order to bask in the shiny new of goods, goods, and more new things. So I also imagine that a return, like Dorothy to Kansas, will take place. And just like the need for a good savings account is a lesson that we are acutely aware of right now, the short sighted need to be bigger on the road will fade away along with the painful memory of this recession.
Though I really don’t want anyone to be hurt, I think a little pain is not a bad learning lesson in the school of life. It would be a good thing to figure out how to raise children who are polite, live in a neighborhood of generosity and goodwill, and to drive down the street without imminent fear of onslaught. Our collective travel to the Oz-like economic and social irresponsibility needs to come to an end because in reality, wearing ruby slippers on the farm will hurt your feet. Yet we don’t need to be “farmers,” as those are all condos now anyway… maybe we could just see our selves as something more simple – like builders of serenity bubbles.