The dawn tomorrow is a hoped-for event, not a promise, not a guarantee. For some it will not come again. But that is what life is for, to be lived. You must find the value in living and wallow in it while it is yours, and you must measure it not by the world’s measuring stick, but your own.
Looking at it mathematically with only the cold hard facts, my life has come to very little. After teaching for parts of four decades, I was forced by ill health to retire from the job I loved. As it will in this country where profits for corporations are more important than people’s lives, my personal fortune, that horde of wealth that is allotted for public servants like teachers, was absorbed by the health care and pharmaceutical industry, and health insurers managed to get away with paying out less than I put in through premiums for a lifetime. After having to pay for the removal of the pool, and after having to go into bankruptcy because Bank of America decided to sue me instead of help in my debt resolution, I really have nothing left. And if we can’t pay the property taxes that keep going up because the State is continually reducing funds to public schools, we may eventually lose the house. Broke and homeless. But they cannot take away my precious things. It simply isn’t possible.
I saw a woman and her two kids getting breakfast at QT this morning. The kids, a boy and a girl, were both wearing jackets and pajama pants. They were both cute, and happy, and speaking Korean to each other. And I realized after smiling at them with my goofy old coot grin, that I am not prejudiced in any way when it comes to other people. They were Asian. I notice details. But that was an afterthought. It really wouldn’t have mattered if they were black, white, purple, brown, or yellow. (Though I have to admit I might’ve been slightly more fascinated by purple.) Not being prejudiced is a precious thing. It comes from a lifetime of working with kids of all kinds, and learning to love them while you’re trying to teach them to also have no prejudices.
And, of course, I still have my family. I was a professional when it came to talking to kids, so I applied those professional skills to my own family as well. I actually talk to my kids, and know them pretty well. They have learned to draw and paint and tell stories from me, and may one day be better at it than I am. They are musical and play instruments… and, hey! Maybe we could form a family band! All of those are also precious things. Let’s see Bank of America try to take those things away from me.
And it may have occurred to you by this point why I am thinking about precious things and using pictures of my sister’s favorite TV show from the 70’s. We just lost a singer and actor from that show whose music meant a lot to my family once, and always will.
And he was not a lot older than me. And his life was not easy either. But he lived with music in his heart and artistry in his soul. David, you will be missed. But your precious things still benefit us. And some of us will probably be seeing you again soon to thank you yet again.
Writing and Netflix
Like many writers, I have a plethora of weird voices in my head, constantly criticizing me, making jokes out of me doing ordinary things like brushing my teeth with the old brush my daughter used to scrub mud off her sneakers, characters who have actually come to life in my head and are constantly telling me stories about themselves… Good golly! Maybe many writers don’t hear these voices and I am simply nearly insane.
But, this is to be expected. I am a Baby Boomer. A child of the ’50s. So, I was raised by the black-and-white television. “I Love Lucy“, “My Three Sons“, and “The Munsters” taught me morals and an ability to laugh at myself. I learned about History, Politics, and the World from Walter Cronkite, the ultimate neutral news commentator. I also learned a lot about story-telling from old movies on Saturday afternoon. Television gave me empathy, knowledge of the world, and a boost to my imagination that I wouldn’t have had if I had been a child a generation earlier. Of course, I know it would also have been very different if I had been an internet child like my own children are. There is presently such a flood of free facts available that our information-soaked little brains are often drowning.
So, why am I talking about television today?
This coming week is a week spent alone. I was left behind with the dog as the rest of my family took a trip to Florida. It was my own choice. I am not capable of sitting in a car for long enough to make the car trip from North Texas to Central Florida. And I did not want to keep them from going. Days of good health are long ago and fading from memory.
So, I am left behind with time to write and time to watch whatever I want to on Netflix.
And this is useful because… well, I am a child of good television. I can work on my two WIP projects at once with Netflix series and movies in between word-munching sessions. I can be totally immersed in the writing act. I can write naked anywhere in the house (with the windows closed) without hearing complaints or distress from my non-nudist wife and my embarrassed-by-their-parents kids. It is almost as good as being well enough to go with them.
And Netflix (as well as, soon I hope, Disney Plus) affords me a chance to select exactly what I want to watch in ways that television on three networks, the way it used to be, could not provide. It is a chance to time-travel, to explore, to reach new levels of laughter and understanding… as well as tears. And I can watch TV too.
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Filed under autobiography, being alone, commentary, humor, novel plans, TV as literature