© 2022, the Institute for Applied Common Sense
Six hours ago, I returned to my temporary home of Carlsbad, California, fresh from a productive day dealing with my 3 week transition. I had become a resident of the Golden State, once again. When I woke up at 4:30 am, Pacific, I was consumed with the notion of cyberterrorism, prompted by Putin's desire to accomplish "something," although elusive it may have been from my personal perspective. (I will not comment on our former President's emotional support). Despite the relative youth of the day, I found myself shelling out cash for VPN software (free being deemed inadequate), and sharing my internet concerns with many a friend, and a thousand or so strangers.
As the day wore on, despite an absence of CNN input, I became increasingly concerned about the future of humanity. As the day wore further on, I realized that I had transformed myself into an itinerant preacher, proselytizing far and wide about how we citizens might collectively seek a better future for all. I must have struck a chord since, much to my surprise (and perhaps dismay), roughly 99% of people who I engaged took the time to listen.
Of course, the more prudent side of this tradition - based Negro suggested I exercise care to avoid being labelled paranoid, over reactive, out of sync with the prevailing mood, or what was perhaps, trending. I managed to get home on the last bus, using a new route, at 9:38 pm (having inattentively missed the preceding 3). I soon found myself 1/4 of a mile from the vast Pacific, while waves beat peacefully against the shore. I breathed a sigh of relief. Although the shore itself was hauntingly quiet, I heard youngsters partying at the local bars, having a good time, perhaps as they should have been. As I walked the remaining 3/4 of a mile to my temporary home, I thought how this time it might be different, and how the giant moats called oceans, just might not be enough to protect us.
I crossed the street to my old reliable haunt (which I had not visited during my 14 years back in North Carolina), the local 7 – 11. It was my place of refuge following the Northridge earthquake of 1994, at 4:30:55 am. I remembered how I was thrown out of my bed onto the floor, stepped on my glasses trying to stand up, and that lights disappeared all over Southern California. I spent 37 minutes perusing bottles of red wine (which I had not consumed in the preceding 18 months), cost be damned. I grabbed some bacon jerky strips (which I had never previously consumed), before approaching the clerk, who exhibited a strained smile, wondering whether I was Michael Brown and this was Ferguson, Missouri.
And this I said, without the least bit of hesitation, and no introduction or segue following the usual transactional conversation: "I'm 70 years of age, and will soon turn 71 in a few months, and this s _ _ _ is serious. THIS is the most unsettling time of my entire life after having endured a 3 – ½ day Amtrak journey across the country just three weeks ago, today." I suggested that we all might consider discontinuing doing business as usual, and start getting prepared.
He looked at me with a responsive demeanor and degree of seriousness which suggested that he knew exactly what I was talking about, and implicitly appreciated that I had not even opened the bottle of wine. Any smile or even grimace, which he might have possibly entertained, suddenly disappeared.
As I exited my refuge, which had comforted me during many an earthquake during my 30 years in Los Angeles, I wondered, "How many other people are as afraid on a basic, visceral level as I am?" I'm frigging scared. You can call me a weakling if you want. I prefer honesty and being a realist.
And then I recalled one of the most comforting conversations I ever had with my Father, a World War II veteran, D - Day plus 6, and a great man, and not just because he was my Father. Prior to that time, I could not ever recall him discussing his experiences in the war. He called me a few hours later during that morning, and said that everything was going to be alright. He imagined that the earthquake was similar to when he was in London, when Hitler was tossing V - 1 rockets (not even close to those of the Francis Scott Key variety) across the Channel. He said the percussive nature of the bombs made the buildings shake in a way that he had never envisioned. Although he was terrified, he said that he got through it, and that I would also.
Here's hoping that my Dad is right this time around, although he is no longer with us....