Thursday, October 15, 2015

I just returned from a trip to Orlando. Most of my time was spent at a convention, but Susanne and I did take one day to go to Sea World. Susanne wanted to see the penguins and I was curious about what might have changed since my last visit about forty years ago.
One of the differences which became obvious fairly quickly was that we were a lot older than most of the visitors. Not many folks in their sixties or seventies. What’s with that?

Since I still felt about twelve inside, however, it didn’t slow me down…much. However, as I stood in line to do the roller coaster water slide, I started to understand. The entire time I waited in line I was besieged by the warnings trying to scare away old people. We were informed that people with heart problems, high blood pressure, fainting issues, headaches, diabetic coma problems and about seventeen other potential health problems should not do the ride. It was worse than hearing the side effects for all the prescription drugs they try to sell us on TV. It turned out to be a mild type of roller coaster and I seemed to survive okay. I think that all the warnings were the scariest part.

They were right about getting wet, however. I realized I was probably in trouble when even the kids were suddenly pulling out ponchos once we got into the cars. As I emerged soaking wet in a tee shirt, Susanne pointed out that the Antarctica exhibit was right next door. Still in my twelve year old mind set, I said let’s go. I realized my mistake when we got inside and the guides were wearing ski parkas. I lasted about ninety seconds in the sub-freezing penquin exhibit, and then waited in the sunshine outside while Susanne spent another ten minutes developing a close friendship with the guide and the little stars of the show.

The rest of the park was about as expected and didn’t seem too different from my last trip there. There were dolphin and seal shows, and sharks and small whales, and lots and lots and lots of walking. I was starting to figure out why the grandparents were all sitting by the pool at the hotel. We made it for about five hours and then collapsed for the rest of the day and night.

In reality I had a few worn parts by the end of the day and also, after spending part of the day in a very cold, wet tee shirt, I had to concede that my twelve year old mind was preventing me from reaching that “age of wisdom” that is supposed to be one of the benefits of getting older.

The following poem Spare Parts (Daydreams, Snap Screen Press, 2004) pretty much says it all.

Glenn K. Currie

                       Spare Parts

                                                Part of me,
                                                            Is getting old.
                                                Hesitant steps,
                                                            Which once were bold.
                                                My body’s strength,
                                                            Starting to soften,
                                                Repair bills coming,
                                                            Much too often.
                                                Part of me,
                                                            Is still a child.
                                                A playful mind,
                                                            Easily beguiled.
                                                But youthful players,
                                                            Now pass me by,
                                                An aging fa├žade,
                                                            Draws empty eyes.

                                                Part of me,
                                                            Is out of sight,
                                                Yesterday’s dreams,
                                                            Lost in the night.
                                                All the things,
                                                            That might have been,
                                                Hidden now,
                                                            By what I am.

                                                Part of me,
                                                            Is still a fool,
                                                A circling pilot,
                                                            Losing fuel.
                                                Trying to be,
                                                            What I’m not,
                                                Wasting the parts,
                                                            That I’ve still got.

                                                And part of me,
                                                            Has learned a lot,
                                                Hard-earned lessons,
                                                            Painfully taught.
                                                Things accomplished,
                                                            Things still to do,
                                                An age of wisdom,
                                                            Would be something new.

Friday, October 2, 2015

The western world seems like an old man who has lost his balance. The collective nations have “fallen and they can’t get up”.

These countries are being overwhelmed with violence. Their children are dying in mass shootings in schools and colleges, buildings are being blown up, riots in the street are becoming more common and there seems to be a general loss of faith in our “law and order” societies.

Through all of this, our leadership is hiding behind the curtains, frozen in indecision while the Earth keeps spinning.

The Middle East, teeming with oil and homeless emigrants, is such a confused and hopeless place that we now have countless different factions in Syria, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, and Yemen fighting three and four-sided wars. Further complicating things is that Russia, the western nations and Turkey are sometimes supporting or undercutting two or three of these sides at the same time, which leaves everyone dancing around each other, blowing people up but trying not to blow anyone up among the major nations that have joined the fray. It is total chaos.

We skate along the fringe of some major catastrophe as we wallow in indecision on the thin ice of world confrontation. It’s like watching a bunch of firemen argue about who has jurisdiction over a fire while the city burns. In the meantime, we are running out of cities. The only things we are not running out of are the aforementioned oil and the supply of emigrants who are desperate to get anywhere that isn’t there.

We need to find some leaders somewhere in this world who can put all these quarreling children in a “time out”. So far all we seem to have are incompetent, immature teenagers who want to flex their muscles or science nerds who have decided to hide in the band room.

The world is a frigging mess and our leaders are pretending that everything is wonderful.

Our sub-conscious selves know this isn’t true. If you look at our literature, films, television and video games, you will see that the common subject matter is the “walking dead”, the end of the world, mass murderers, horror stories and superheroes who save us all with special powers within three seconds of a nuclear explosion.

We have become a world of pretenders with neither the will nor the leadership to accomplish more. We have become the stupid people in the ad who hide behind the chain saws to avoid the crazed killer.

The truth is we are standing on the “ocean’s edge, staring out across the sea. Hoping to find a pilot wise, and a ship to carry me”.

I wrote The Journey (In the Cat’s Eye, Snap Screen Press, 2009) a few years ago to talk about the individual journey we each travel through life. But it also applies to the trip we share as our world travels its own “journey”. Unfortunately, “the winds of chance” aren’t blowing too favorably for any of us right now.

Glenn K. Currie

                           The Journey

When first the waves washed over me,
I knew not what they’d bring,
I floated free in quiet rest,
‘Til the world came rushing in.

I awoke to drum beats calling me,
The same that ruled my heart,
And the youthful soul that marched therein,
Followed an unmarked chart.

Each step required another choice,
Offering different ways,
Decision trees flowed endlessly,
A spider’s web of grays.

Soon I came to the ocean’s edge,
Staring out across the sea,
Hoping to find a pilot wise,
And a ship to carry me.

But no one knew what lay across,
There was no where or when,
Even the stars could only say,
Where I had already been.

The truth I found, was I alone
Must bridge the start and end,
Writing my life on grains of sand,
The winds of chance my pen.