Love/Love

love:love
Just another morning. Brighter than most. No hint of last night’s calamity in this morning’s serenity. The magpies arrived to see if they’d trained me yet, rejecting the pumpkin seeds I’d left on the deck railing. I quickly replaced them with stale bread broken into bird bite sized pieces. Yes, they have trained me, I agree, but I entrain to entertain Rose The Skittish Spinster Cat, who seems to enjoy the first thing in the morning bird visits. She barks at them but it’s feigned alarm. No harm done and I dispose of the stale crusts.

A shadow hangs over the place, though. The BBC chattered half the night. NPR took over just before dawn. The unimaginable settling into another disquieting new normal. I must listen to the news to somehow infuse the unwanted recent history into the body of my acknowledged story. It’s inescapable now. Denial slinks back into her shadow, not selected for this team either. Once ingested, though, the shocking taste seems to disappear. The bitter flavor lingers longer than the sweet, but both flee the palate more quickly than the long anticipation enticed it. I’m soon enough hungry again.

I suppose I’m supposed to have become more cynical now, to be more diligently setting aside my childish, hopeful notions; become defensive and warier, but I do not want to. Twice burned, finally cautious? Another night passed. Another thief departing. Another indignity visited upon us all. The morning news explains that there is no evidence of any heightened threat level this morning. There was no evidence of one yesterday afternoon in Paris, either. Night thieves never send ahead requests for an audience. They, or ones like them, will certainly return. Nothing dissuades their kind. Kill the father and the son shows up. Kill the son and the mother avenges. Kill the mother and her brother and cousin will decide to even the score.

This seems a bogus competition. If we could make time run backwards, we might once again achieve the only perfect score ever registered, zero to zero; or as the tennis people translate it, love/love. Beyond that modest beginning, every lower-order passion prevails and not even winning really settles anything. Let the resulting grudges judge resolution. Beat me and I will not be capable of respecting your prowess. If I beat you, I gain justification for more deeply understanding just how unworthy you’ve become to receive my deepest respect. We seem engaged in a race for ever greater negative space, undermining everyone involved in the process.

The local Listserv has a resident troll. This week. he received a warning shot across his bow. Either he’s just as clueless as his intolerant postings disclose or he’s faking it. I suspect that he’s not faking anything. He seems to be the sort of man who really should stay away from his keyboard after that second bottle of wine. Maybe his mother degraded him in his youth. I don’t know. He proclaims that honesty is the best policy. Always. “Believe me,” he insists, “I know!” He clearly knows for himself but seems to not know for anyone else. This puts him in a difficult position because in this small culture, nobody judges anyone based upon what they know for them self. He has the right to say anything he wants, but a greater responsibility not to.

We live civilly in restraint, passions banked, much unsaid. It seems to me that there’s always someone who doesn’t get the responsibility memo. These people crack the sidewalk everyone else needs to use. They seem an intrusion into our treasured serenity. What do we do? Some throw back better than they receive. Others demean, probably echoing the experience they received from the troll’s prior response. The troll does not understand. I’m convinced that he will not understand, either. Most of us just stay as far away as we can from this irrationality generator, hoping he’ll wander away on his own. He might get barred from the group, an injustice from his perspective, sweet salvation from ours.

I could, I tell myself, get to know this guy, maybe even influence the emergence of some social conscience, but I’m planning on being out of town next week. Scheduling’s difficult. The deadly inconvenience prevents me from even attempting from saving this wayward soul. Who made me the judge of civil engagement, anyway? Who made him the likely criminal suspect? I will probably take him up on his offer of a cup of coffee, though I don’t drink coffee and could care less about his genuine antique Italian espresso machine. I wonder what’s ticking inside him. I wonder what kicks up inside me when he starts ticking so offensively.

We are none of us very natively compatible. There is no norm. We peck at each other, seeking order to satisfy ourselves. A genuine fool’s mission. Engagement under these conditions seems to diverge from any average. Tougher underbellies sometimes help, but then there’s an act so outrageous, so previously unthinkable, that no armor deflects the sword. The attacker dies in the assault leaving me nobody to wreak vengeance upon. The cycle perpetuates itself, or seems to.

Who among us ever first sees that they might be the pattern-breaker? Am I ever that curiously anointed one? Do I want to go speak with the troll or talk to the surviving representative of the outrageous opposition? Do I just eye-for-an-eye, hoping the other guy, not me, will go blind in the battle? Where lies the edge of awful accommodation? Where lies the beginning of a trending difference tomorrow? I don’t know the answer to anything.

I know this morning, rising with promise, not a cloud in the sky, blizzard warning still two full days away. My stale bread’s gone, gobbled up by wild birds clever enough to tame me. I will never be able to tame them in return. The beauty of every dawn drags that perfect score up over the Eastern horizon: Love/Love. I’ll have to wait until the end of the day to learn how this day degrades or improves this perfect beginning.

©2015 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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