Weekly Wonderings – February 15th, 2021

My area is covered in sleet and slick roads this morning, with freezing rain and snow rolling in this afternoon. I’ve been staying inside, not much different from my regular routine since COVID-19 began. My wife and I have been watching a lot and reading a lot. Before we get to my thoughts, here’s the Spotify playlist for the week.

Our dog, Clyde, is elderly and developed arthritis in his hips around a year ago. These last few days have been very hard on him, and you can see the pain as he tries to move around. We’ve followed all the vet’s instructions. He’s on Prednisone, takes CBD, has nutritional supplements. This weekend we carefully used a heating pad on him, bought some leg braces off Amazon with mixed results, and even got a raised tray for his food and water bowls. I’m not sure how much good any of it is doing. The pain was so bad for him yesterday morning he threw up his breakfast, but he managed to keep his dinner down.

Overnight my wife helped him get outside to go to the bathroom but had to carry him back inside. I woke up around 4:30 and watched over him; he tried to get up but stumbles and then leans around door frames and furniture. I think he’s disoriented, and he won’t drink water or really eat. I’ve taken an eyedropper and been putting a little water in his mouth at a time. I know what it’s like to be so dehydrated your brain is just a haze. If the roads weren’t iced over, we’d probably take him into the vet, but it’s just not safe to do so. It’s one of those situations where I don’t think he’s dying, but if we can’t get him to eat & drink, he could quickly start down that path. I think my wife and I are both in a headspace where we are ready; if he were to pass, we would be sad, but we know he’s lived a long time, and there’s not much else we can do.

The last twelve months would undoubtedly prove to be a hell of a punch in the gut if that were to happen. Losing our other dog Lily in August was a complete surprise and left us reeling. Coming up against our state’s inane decisions when it came to opening schools and refusing to enforce safety mandates was another. The larger national story playing out is more fuel to fire, making us feel disenchanted with the United States. We’re getting our passports renewed right now, and I’m praying by this time next year, we’ll be in Europe, hopefully permanently.

Encouraging me to pursue this solution has been Adam Curtis’s docu-series that just dropped, I Can’t Get You Out of My Head. He’s a wonderful British documentarian whose entire focus is on exploring modernity and its psychological effects on humanity. This six-part series just dropped Friday and is fantastic. We’re four episodes in, and you definitely cannot binge-watch this. Each entry is very heavy, and he weaves together many threads to underline his thesis. In this series, he’s been pivoting between the United States, U.K., Russia, and China with deviations along the way.

Curtis often uses the stories of individuals to talk about systemic problems. It’s clear he holds no fantasies about capitalism and neoliberalism, but he also has a critical eye for the Soviet Union and China’s proto-communist states. One of his continual refrains is that leaders often claim they are bringing about a new way but remain completely informed by old ways of thinking. That’s what happened in China, where the Revolution stalled out under Mao and simply transitioned into an authoritarian state under Deng Xiaoping, which continues to this day. Conspiracies are a big part of Curtis’s material, not supporting them, but looking at how viral they have been throughout human history and perpetuating fantasies that numb populations to the reality of their struggle. I highly recommend you watch this with proper pacing used because it can be overwhelming.

Curtis asks if humanity is emotionally willing to do what is necessary to change or we are so comfortable in the illusion that it’s impossible to pull us out of it. This led to a conversation with my wife about how annoyed I would get with work colleagues who would express how smart I was when I shared a complex thought or piece of trivia I knew. I do not see myself as smart, so I’ve tried to reconcile it with what they were seeing. I realized is that I am no more intelligent than them; instead, I actively choose to have empathy and listen to people the rest of my community marginalizes and ignores. I like to expand my understanding of history to understand the truth of my country of birth, learning the myths I was fed as a child are just that. I’ve had former colleagues express that they just don’t like to read or only read books that create echo chambers about their myopic view of Christianity. I appear smart because I choose to listen, and they could do this too if they wanted.

I also acknowledge not having children is a benefit to that pursuit. I have more free time I can choose to use how I please. For people with kids who work 40+ hours, it’s near impossible. As I said last week, most societies seem to push people into being generators of labor, proving useful if you are someone in power. It makes people too tired to pay attention, keep up with the news, read for pleasure & to be informed and ultimately sedated. I don’t know if there is a reasonable solution to this in my lifetime or at all. Like Curtis wonders, maybe we’re just stuck in this system until it burns up everything, and the most we can do is acknowledge that we’re trapped in here together.

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