Same old, same old

It would be preposterous of me to suggest that each day isn’t very much a repeat of another.  I suppose that were not untrue even years ago before the sterilizing advent of face masks, social distancing and the global pandemic. Certainly what for me has materially altered as the mere consequence of aging is an evaporation of the commercial vernacular, that mixture of employment and capitalism. The payoff is freedom from obligation at the expense of occupation. Currently my agenda – which is seriously lacking in social exchange – is little more than the predominantly solitary and lonely ambitions of sleeping, breakfast, bicycling, driving, writing, reading, Netflix and photography. The list has the appearance at least of moderate activity and productivity but I have to admit it is unvarying. Like my cycling the scope of achievement of it and the other amusements is distinctly amateur and hobby-like.

In spite of these demarcations today was extraordinarily pleasant. Nor was I compensating for the lack of atmospheric results. Okay, part of my unparalleled joy is the prediction of Donald Trump’s defeat for a 2nd term election in November.

“This election is looking more like a Democratic tsunami than simply a Blue wave,” wrote The Cook Political Report’s Amy Walter on Wednesday. “Republican strategists we’ve spoken with this week think Trump is close to the point of no return. A couple of others wondered if Trump had reached his ‘Katrina’ moment: a permanent loss of trust and faith of the majority of voters.”

Backing up that prediction, The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan campaign tip sheet, moved a series of states in Biden’s direction: Wisconsin and Pennsylvania moved from “Toss Up” to “Lean Democrat” and Georgia was moved from “Lean Republican” to “Toss Up.”

Those moves — as well as a few others in Maine and Nebraska congressional districts — bring Biden to 279 electoral votes in Cook’s tabulation, nine more than he needs to be elected president.

But again, it’s more than just that Trump looks like a major underdog for the White House. It’s that his numbers are now in an area where he could cost Republicans the Senate and a number of House seats.

More important than Trump’s transience however was the general – maybe native – feeling of accomplishment and complacency. No doubt it is an accident of birth that I have been gifted with overall contentment. I realize this is not an entirely unfounded conclusion arising from what might be called the serendipity of my existence; that is, I’ve been unquestionably lucky (for having suffered two unpredicted heart surgeries if nothing else).  But there are people who complain no matter what their circumstance. I have never been one to do so.  My perception of life is that we’re all unwitting actors on its transfiguring stage. Some are more blessed than others; but no one is spared the commonality of misfortune.

It is only occasionally that I spend time re-thinking my past – other than for strictly historical purposes such as recalling where I was at a certain age.  Otherwise life is an incomparable experience and one from which its foremost secrets are discoverable only by chance and passive absorption (neither of which is by design). Today when reading the obituary of Rev. Jeffrey Lyman DeWitt King (d. May 20, 2020) I was reminded of the drama and mercurial nature of life. It interests me that someone as dynamic as Rev. King was I know governed by the same necessities, curiosities, hopes and disappointments as the rest of us. It is a blunt reminder that wishing for the life of another is both pointless and dangerous; at best it is a crap shoot. Making the next step – that is, settling to embrace the present with open arms and a degree of gusto – is clearly not for the pusillanimous. It amounts almost to an inductive leap to imagine that whatever awaits at fortuity’s doorstep is very much tailored for oneself personally. It is this cosmetic reasoning which stimulates its combined elements.

Looking back on the past there were nonetheless incidents which resound more of stupidity and defeat than otherwise. Indeed there are those whom I have encountered who spend more time fighting chance than adapting to its treasures. By definition these people are regrettably doomed to dissatisfaction and complaint. Given its customary persuasion it is usually a characteristic from which there is little hope of escape.

We are regularly reminded that wintering southward this year is off the table. Only today the news from CNN and MSNBC is that the corona virus in the United States of America is far from disappearing. The most recent speculation is that the months of November, December and January will mark another upswing of the contamination. Practicing what I preach I have tranquillized my erstwhile venturous inclination and accommodated instead what is before my eyes.  There is no question that traipsing about one’s backyard highways and byways is a calming rendition. This afternoon I nosed into the hinterland of Renfrew County and cavorted briefly with Billy Virgin and Mark Enright, proprietors of Neat Café in the Village of Burnstown on the Madawaska River.

We have enjoyed similar enthusiasm by frequenting the golf club in the Village of Appleton. Perhaps the attraction is nothing more than convenience and familiarity – features which are forever popular especially among the elderly. But it would require a very clever Clarence Darrow to convince me otherwise. Reality though unpredictable seldom proves to be merely a guessing game; there is some connection between fact and conclusion.

Called a “sophisticated country lawyer”, Darrow’s wit and eloquence made him one of the most prominent attorneys and civil libertarians in the nation. He defended high-profile clients in many famous trials of the early 20th century, including teenage thrill killers Leopold and Loeb for murdering 14-year-old Robert “Bobby” Franks (1924); teacher John T. Scopes in the Scopes “Monkey” Trial (1925), in which he opposed statesman and orator William Jennings Bryan; and Ossian Sweet in a racially-charged self-defence case (1926).


Your Honor knows that in this very court crimes of violence have increased growing out of the war. Not necessarily by those who fought but by those that learned that blood was cheap, and human life was cheap, and if the State could take it lightly why not the boy? There are causes for this terrible crime. There are causes as I have said for everything that happens in the world. War is a part of it; education is a part of it; birth is a part of it; money is a part of it—all these conspired to compass the destruction of these two poor boys.

Clarence Darrow, addressing the Court in Leopold and Loeb