Have you ever wondered why things have changed so much but everything seems to remain the same? I got caught up in this line of thinking during my daily morning read of iGoogle, which feeds me CNN, BBC, MyRepublica and all the rest. The news of the death of Davy Jones (of The Monkees fame) aged 66 hit me harder than my morning espresso. But then another headline easily distracted me; this comes from Nature, the International Weekly Journal of Science: Super-sized fleas adapted to feed off dinosaurs. Holy cow, my attention still bounces off the walls just as it did back in high school, some 40 years ago. I just have more places to bounce than I ever did before…
But the idea that fleas adapted over the millennia to feed from more easy-to-pierce skins (mammals vs. T-rex) also reminded me of the human condition. As a species, we have adapted to suck the lower-hanging fruit over time as well. Just in my lifespan, I´ve adapted— using technology—to find an easier way to do things—like read the morning paper—and to spend less energy on the mundane, finding more efficient ways to fire up whatever brain chemicals that it takes to produce pleasure. Unfortunately, humans also seem to feed in order to produce pain as well, which brings me to the topic of nuclear disarmament… whoops—another bounce!
As a kid, I was trained to hide under my school desk in the event of a nuclear disaster and then literally kiss my ass goodbye. We had fallout shelters with glowing signs and loud air-raid sirens used during fallout drills. Now we have newspapers and jihadist terrorists that essentially do the same thing, only without the loud horn and signboards. We live in fear, fear of flying or of flying things hitting our office building, fear of technology being used to invade our private lives, and then there is that fear of insects biting us as we sleep in a hotel room. And of course there is perhaps that greatest fear of all, the fear of never waking up again, regardless of the bugs.
But dharmic teachings tell us not to fear, but to instead prepare for death, which I always thought was sound (if not morbid) advice. However, this topic (imminent death and preparations thereof) is sure to be a party stopper, and not one that attracts a larger readership in a newspaper, so I better bounce again before I begin to lose you…
Student Shoots Other Students in Ohio, reads the next headline... another Columbine happened this week, where a shooting spree in an Ohio high school cafeteria claimed the lives of three more youngsters, bringing the total recorded shootings in schools around the world to over 50 incidents in the past seven years alone. The issue of gun control will arise once more after the Ohio deaths, but quickly fade from the ever-shortening media cycle that we have these days. Still, it’s one of my fears, ever since being a student teacher at Columbine back in the ’80s and a postal worker in the ’70s: the fear of being shot to death at work. (No wonder I’ve retired early.)
It´s those little fears that add up, don´t they? The fear of hiking in the woods and getting sawed up by Mexican drug smugglers or psychotic inbreeds… the fear of eating something that will give you cancer or the fear of a face-eating virus finding their way into your morning egg and toast… the fear of a bomb blast from a suicide bomber, or one just left idly in a car.
Even in a poor, obscure little country, we are not immune to senseless death.
Our own quiet Nation had one of those just this week—reminding us that living in a poor, and some might say, obscure little country in the middle of nowhere, that we are not immune to instant, senseless death and dismemberment. Even if weapons of mass destruction where never found in Iraq, they are really everywhere we go, as our species seems to have WMDs inherently built in. Unfortunately, we humans have not yet evolved on the same evolutionary scale as the mosquito, which has learned how to suck blood from its host without giving pain (at least not until after it’s done and left).
“California sunlight, sweet Calcutta rain
Honolulu starbright—the song remains the same.”
– Led Zeppelin (1973)
Humans seem to continue to make the same silly (and often deadly mistakes) over and over and over again. By contrast, my dog Krypto reminds me of this everyday. Canines rarely, if ever, make the same mistake twice. Once Krypto has stuck his huge nose into a flame, he never does again. He never sniffs motorbike pipes, and in fact, he is wary of most things human-made. Yet we, as the superior beings atop the brain-chain, continually step into the metaphorical fire almost everyday, repeating over and over the mistakes of our past, even though we have one of the most advanced recorded histories of any being that has lived on this earth. So surely, this history must register somewhere…
But right now, after reading the news and reporting back to you, there is a really bad and blaring band right outside my window, signifying that yet another spring wedding season is upon us, and with that will come new births and new life and perhaps even new ideas for repairing the human condition, within which everything so far has remained the same.
Herojig is quirky kinda expat, now retired and living happily with Nepali family and dog, in a community where mistakes are mostly noted, and rarely repeated