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  • Rodney Drought

Mind Over Matters

"What's the ugliest part of your body? Some say it's your nose, some say it's your toes, I think it's your mind, I think it's your mind" - Frank Zappa



I made an attempt at a blog two days after the Capital Building was ransacked by morons. The blog was going to be about how the human brain really hasn't developed as well as we think it has. I wanted to bring up carefully considered points of how we still are of a tribal mindset and are wary of anything and anyone outside our comfort zone. I was also going to mention a book I read written in 1968 that dealt with the history of the world viewed through the pillars of religion, economy, politics. The book explained there was nothing new under the sun, all forms of society and philosophy have been around forever and that no matter what we do or think, we are forever recycling through all that was thought and done before. No matter what God we believe (or don't believe in), what form of government, what economic structure, no matter how great a society becomes, all eventually crumble and are replaced for a new/old wave that will be destined to fail itself.


However, it was too depressing and quite frankly too complicated for my ugly brain to put together and so like any society, it died despite its best intentions.


Then I saw Biden's inauguration speech and I watched the orange sloth monster waving goodbye. I was able to muster a little hope. It did not last long for I remembered another thing about the human brain that has changed little since we were battling saber toothed tigers. For the most part, we are still stuck in survival mode and think only of the present. The day after the inauguration the seventy-four million people who were conned into thinking trump was a good president, did not go away or have a change of heart. They were not going to wake from a spell and be cool like the wicked witch's guard after Dorothy melted her with a bucket of water. The next day all the division and discord remained and most likely will be around for a long time. Our minds are hard wired for instant gratification. We hunt and gather just for today because we still think that tiger will sneak into our cave at night and drag us away.


Our minds are a hot mess of misinformation and tattered pieces of truth which we cobble together into what we think is reality. They are further infected by a tweet storm world where people too easily believe what they hear or see on social media, opinion based "news" shows or whatever versus the actual truth. Say what you will about the wonders of the information age, our brains definitely have not developed to the point where we know how to take in all the garbage and pick out the wheat from the chaff. I think of a story I read about one of the first moving pictures shown in theaters. People sat in a theater and saw for the first time a film of a locomotive lumbering toward the camera which gave the impression to the audience it was lumbering toward them. It caused many to run screaming out of the theater. *


I feel the entire world is suffering from the effects and the delusions of the internet, social media, 24/7 news cycles. Our minds simply are not equipped to take and assimilate all that crap and when I say crap, I truly mean it. Why must anyone watch or listen to some pompous boob spew their own slanted opinion of the world? We must understand it is not pure news. It is news perverted into a sick sort of entertainment. The world must be portrayed into a 24/7 train wreck so that we cannot look away. This is the way they get gobs of money from sponsors. Ever wonder why there is not equal time for good news on broadcasts? It doesn't sell. We watch, listen, recoil just like the first movie goers over a hundred years ago. We are running from the same locomotive.


Bombarded with news, bombarded with lies, bombarded with all the horrors crammed in this place we created with messy, cavemen (and women!) minds, will there ever be the day when we catch up and get a handle on our frailties?


I think not.


But it serves no purpose to despair and here is why:


When I was working in the magical world of pest control I had an elderly couple as clients in Phoenix, Arizona. They lived in a small but tidy block home that was a common structure for the area back in the 60's. The first time I serviced them they let me in with broad, welcoming smiles. Husband and wife, withered, bent over, shuffling and limping, they proudly showed me their home before I sprayed. They had a slight German accent. They were named Rothstein. On their forearms partially obscured by wrinkles, bruises and generally weathered skin were tattooed numbers. They were a lovely couple, the kind you hate to leave after working on their home, the kind you want to sit down with and have tea and conversation.


They readily shared they were holocaust survivors. In their hallway stretched dozens of black and white framed photos of friends and family, almost all dead, many went to concentration camps and never came back. Showing these pictures to me, they smiled sweetly, a trace of their joviality lessoned, they spoke reverently of loved ones gone.


The thing that struck me about the Rothsteins was how funny they were. They constantly joked, almost childishly at just about anything that was brought up. They were very happy even after what they went through and nearing the end of their own lives, they embraced joy and vitality.


I only went to their home three times before I left the company that serviced them but I still think about the Rothteins. They were an inspiration and a lesson. No matter how messy and destructive we humans are there will always be people whose spirit can not be destroyed, people like the Rothsteins who know exactly how misinformed people can turn evil but refuse to let their own spirit be crushed. Their strength and triumph was to remain loving, happy and welcoming.


America might be dying, the world as we know it has forever changed but the best people, the survivors are the ones that can light the way especially if we realize that all the noise of Twitterland, is merely a lumbering locomotive that isn't really there.





* After writing about the locomotive scaring people in an early moving picture, I discovered that it was apparently an urban myth that still has legs but I left this "fake news" in the blog to demonstrate how long lies or misinformation can last. It also made for a better blog!

As my favorite creative writing teacher once said, "don't let truth get in the way of good writing," and therein lies the core of our problem; we want a good story, no matter what.

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