It is 6:52 AM on Sunday November 15th, 2020. It finally feels like the fall in Pacifica. Here on the coast we don’t have the type of foliage that change to beautiful reds, oranges and yellows signifying the arrival of Autumn. No, we have short scrub brush, Monterey pines and Eucalyptus trees. Our weather also only changes slightly instead of going from a hot summer to a very cold winter and all the gradual fluctuations as the transition happens over the months of September through January. For Pacifica, the only change we really experience is a slight drop in temperature and the arrival of rain.
We had our first rain two days ago and the last I remember getting rain was perhaps back in January. It also wasn’t what one would normally think of as raid with big drops coming down from the sky with a noticeable splash as it hits the pavement. No, it was more like the sky was sputtering a very heavy mist which gradually makes everything wet and is blown here and there by a heavy offshore wind. Oh how I miss the approach of an actual thunderstorm of the kind we’d get in Ohio in the summertime. You see nothing but huge black clouds on the horizon which seemed appropriate for the end of the world as described in religious texts. I would think of “The Nothing” from the movie The Never Ending Story” as the it was portrayed by the same type of storm clouds. The temperature would suddenly drop 5 – 10 degrees and then suddenly there was the onslaught of heavy drops of rain shooting down so fast that they would pelt you and leave everyone scurrying for cover.
No, the rain we often get is nothing like that. Unlike a good summer storm which makes people suddenly sprint for cover our rain only encourages a quickening of the pace. Furthermore, here on the coast it is rarely a 100% surety we will have rain. The forecasts are just OK in that if they predict at least a 60% chance of rain a few days in advance we’ll most likely have some precipitation. However, it is all too common that predicted rain always dries up and fails to materialize. It less often but we can actually get rain quite suddenly that wasn’t really predicted.
In any case, the arrival of rain is more than welcome, especially since California has just had the worst fire season in its recorded history. The air was so bad we had to all gather in one room with the air purifier on maximum for weeks at a time. In fact, we left the state for a while fleeing like refugees to Ohio for two weeks.
With the holidays approaching, it is also nice for the weather to actually feel like the holidays from my childhood. The weather around Thanksgiving is supposed to be cool, winter should be cold with snow on the ground. But not here in Pacifica. It will still be 60 degrees and sunny just like always except for when rain clouds decide to blown quickly on through.
Like most events in 2020, this Thanksgiving is going to be quite different due to COVID-19. The infection rate is rapidly increasing at a breathtaking (pun intended) rate due to the absolute and total failure of the Trump Administration to handle it properly. Instead of encouraging people to wear masks they encourage them not to! They want to fire the nations top disease expert! For my descendants reading this in history books wondering how Trump supporters could be so stupid, I tell you I don’t have the answer either and I know many of these people in person. My only thought is that movements come and go and are very hard to predict. I will say that the major cause of this one is people’s inability to synthesize and process all the information coming at them from technology. Technology has rapidly improved, human beings have not. The dumb ones are especially vulnerable and this is easily seen through the window of Facebook. The students with the worst grades in high school are the ones most likely to completely fall for a con-man like Trump. They just don’t have the mental capacity to discern fact from fiction, both fed to them in a mix from their preferred propaganda outlet. It starts out with a position on various issues which is perfectly fine but it has morphed into a cult like following where they have begun worshiping Trump. Most people need to be led, they need to be told what to believe and Trump knows how to do that very effectively. The virus gone by Easter, or it will suddenly disappear? They believe it even though they are thrown out of work and may have a dead relative or acquaintance. Still they follow and believe everything the President says. This is exactly what cults do.
All that aside, I am looking forward to Thanksgiving. I love the memories of holidays past, it was always a time of such joy and happiness that I want to recreate for my own kids. I do have to say that I practice some cognitive dissonance when it comes to Thanksgiving though because that story of the Pilgrims sitting down happily with the Native Americans is complete fiction. Instead of a happy story it quickly turns into genocide and is very depressing. This realization also fits perfectly in with our political situation. Thanks to Trump we now have white hate groups screaming that their cultural heritage is being diminished. The whites were always on top, always did great things and no criticism is ever allowed. But the truth is that the white man almost completely erased an entire people off the face of North America. Most people will read the fact and then move along without really considering this. But imagine if they could look into the past and see just one raid of a Native American village, while white men on horses slaughtered not only men but women and children as well. This should drive any human being to tears and great sadness. Unfortunately this is the age of Trump and even though seeing outright murder would hurt the hearts of even his most ardent supporters it is plain to see that it may not do so for much longer. The good ones will turn away from all the hate but his most ardent supporters will continue on the path to evil, when perhaps even murder of those unlike them in image or believe is perfectly justified. It could happen here.
For me, the genocide of Native Americans has affected me deeply. My passion is history, language and really trying to ‘feel’ that history, not just read about a bunch of facts. And here we are in the USA celebrating a “Thankful” day when it is really one of mass murder. So that cognitive dissonance? Well, I like to remember holidays past and present feeling the joy of everyone getting together and being happy. I love the American holidays, they are wonderful. But again, the pretext is to celebrate a story of fiction. You point this out to Trump supporters and just like evil cult members, they get very angry. They don’t practice cognitive dissonance; in their minds they moved to fantasy land long ago and any intrusion of facts are met with outright hostility. So although I still enjoy Thanksgiving immensely I know what occurred and it does affect me very much. So I decided to start contributing to the Native Americans. I received a simple postcard for a Native American college fund and contributed. Well that opened the floodgates to all kinds of Native American charities and so I have a number of options of where to send my contributions. Nothing can right the absolute atrocity of the past but given my intimacy with the past this is something that I need to do. I’m one who in the quiet of a sunset or sunrise will listen for long gone voices on the wind hoping they will whisper something to me. I believe the past, present and future is an illusion, all bound up in ways I cannot understand and only by quieting the mind can I have any hope of hearing the messages.
Changing the subject there are two other things I’d like to write about in this post.
The first is about my morning thought. I find that the best thoughts come to me either in meditation and just after waking up as the last remnants of my dream disappear and I lay there in bed. Now I often write about my thought patterns, or mindset and how I find it amazing that through my own writing I can remember a previous way of thinking. This is very hard to do, and if I were to compare it to computers it is like Windows 10 suddenly glitching only for an instant back to Windows XP then immediately back to Windows 10. My current mindset is Windows 10, but I have fond memories of the way I used to think (used to be!) My thought this morning was around the joy or desire to do some sort of activity. In my childhood I would think I wanted to play with my GI-Joes and that desire would suddenly make me very happy and this elevated happiness would be sustained as I played with my toys. Well, at 43 that doesn’t occur anymore. I am presented with a number of options today but they are all presented as any number of plain slices of bread and I am to chose one. I could: workout, read my book, play a video game, use VR, watch a movie, do yardwork, go to the beach, take a hike etc. Not one option gets me excited. Just like the slices of bread I could choose, all options are bland. And so in recent years it may take me a moment to decide as my mind strives to find an option which will release that elusive joy. The joy never comes and so it is just a matter of picking an activity as none will make me happier than the other. Joy as a motivator has been replaced by a feeling of accomplishment. If I feel as though I’ve accomplished something then perhaps I can get a slight trickle of that feeling of joy and so accomplishing something becomes my motivator.
At 43 joy is dead but the holidays are able to revive it a little as life support would do a dying patient. At the start of Halloween my joy breathes and has opened its eyes which is appreciated even though it isn’t running around jumping up and down with great laughter as it did when I was a kid. Due to COVID this holiday season has a lot less magic to it but what I’m discovering is that through the “spell” of right mindset I can create magic just as powerful to make the holidays just as bright. We will miss the essential ingredient of gathering with many friends and wonderful parties but instead turn to a different ‘spell’ and increase its power by being joyful myself and finding other activities which create memories.
Time to change subject again and this is rather sad.
I’m at the age now where aside from three or four early exceptions death’s gaze is starting to look in our direction. There is a Facebook page for my high school and one of the albums is dedicated to those graduates who have passed away. I learned yesterday that Joe Estep passed away and it was a shock. We were good acquaintances and played on the same sports teams but other than that I didn’t know him well as he was also one grade below me. He was a very good looking kid and I’d say royalty as far as popularity goes. So I thought I’d write one of my memories about him and that was on our way back to school after a baseball game. We both had Cameros although his was the cooler IROC. We were somewhat racing, somewhat harassing each other buy cutting in front of each other or “brake checking.” This was all complete teenager stupidity and something no rational adult what ever do but as a teenager we were laughing and having a ball. I had just brake checked him when he threw a dip (smokeless tobacco) on my car! So then it was war and we did the same to him. The it wasn’t just a used dip but the entire spit cup! For those who weren’t friends such things would have made any driver very mad but we were on great terms and so it became a fun, story of the like you’d find written in a school yearbook.
After high school I never really thought about him again until he popped up on Facebook. It looked like he had a hard time after high school and eventually those hard times were too much to bear. So, I wish you peace Joe wherever you are and hope you find rest in finally being released from all your trials and hardships.