Isn’t it odd how some of what parents, friends and former lovers say to us slips away: becomes almost invisible, silent… yet some seeps deep into our souls and never lets us go.
I don’t have an eidetic memory, but when it comes to long term memory: close. And, as with all Inspection columns, there are political, social even religious points to be made here. Hold on. I’ll get there.
My father once said to me, “Everyone I know is going away,” long before he died. So I don’t have the excuse for that phrase being embedded into my soul I do when he said, “You know, I won’t be here forever,” the year before he died. I understood what he said less then than I do now.
Today I drove by an old girlfriend’s house, or tried to. I have no interest in rekindling anything of a relationship that was verbally abusive, manipulative and spiteful for no damn reason. But the older I get the more I seek to confirm my roots: where I’ve been, what I remember, how I got to where I am today. In part because it reminds me of how much I have and how much I’ve lost. But the house is gone. The scraggly forest across the road is gone. The drive in theater we went to frequently is gone. The bar where she watched me play week after week is gone. It’s as if none of that ever happened: it just lives on in my mind now.
Another old girlfriend: my first, died a few weeks ago from a continuous battle with diabetes: something my body has kept attempting to fool with over the years, and helped kill my father. I had lost track of her, but her death filled me with the same feeling the missing house did, or the fact my old elementary school is but a ghost now, or my mother’s twin headstone grave has but one name on it.
There comes a time when you realize where you grew up, where you went to school or college has changed so much it’s almost foreign to you. Everyone has either passed on or left for who knows where. It’s an almost bottomless, empty, lonely and haunted feeling, at best.
For those yet to know: as you flow into your 50s and 60s your time just seems to be passing by: and to be honest, it kind of is, right?
I believe this may explain a lot of the right’s thinking these days. For example, one of this summer’s movies: God is Not Dead. When is the last time you heard preachers, or teens, or the baby boomers use that 60-ish old chestnut? When I argue with righties on debate sites they often seem genuinely puzzled, even baffled, when I tell them I don’t smoke pot, I used to hunt and still own guns, I’m not much of a fan of either gun registration or banning much of anything, I feel boycotts are usually counter productive and, oh, I was once a William F. Buckley conservative who also worked for Goldwater and Nixon.
I’m sure many don’t believe. I don’t fit into their narrow minded, rigid, stereotypes that have since passed on, that have changed. They’re still fighting what they believe to be dragons that are not even windmills anymore.
Not that the left is totally innocent of this.
But how many massive strikes have you seen, or much true union feisty-iness, rather than getting what they can out of bad offers? Unions have lessened in influence, almost geometrically over the years: yet cons argue as if it’s still the 60s and 70s and there are massive walkouts everywhere. Some argue as if they’re responsible for damn near every economic problem we have, when they were never quite the dragons imagined and now are hardly windmills.
How does this tie in with my empty, “everyone (or “thing”) I know is going away?”
I think many conservatives have yet to face the reality that the world they once knew is changing, even going away. That’s why you get the plethora of rude, insensitive, even dangerous rants, like Limbaugh’s recent “‘No’ means ‘yes,'” comments.
I think many of the older folks on the right are afraid to face that empty, bottomless, pit you sense when you get the feeling what you know is going away. This explains why they rage against gays, immigrants, children and women despite their own autopsy telling them this is what’s killing their party, their movement.
I know most of what I knew isn’t coming back, and that’s OK. But please allow me a little sad mixed with nostalgia, OK?
But I’m not sure they do. That’s why their beating their heads against the same old wall with comments and actions that seem so dated and even insane sometimes.
There’s a word for that…
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
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