I was on the front porch when you drove by and I waved and it’s a truth: small troubles speak and great troubles are silent.
My current small troubles are a daily flood of junk email --- ads for apocalypse survival kits, free loans, cheap insurance, hernia creams, travel discounts, an app that tells you if your dog is happy --- a steady stream of garbage. In small print, barely readable at the bottom is “If you wish to unsubscribe, click here,” so I click there yet the stuff keeps coming in, a plague of electronic vermin.
Meanwhile the great trouble is the bruised state of our democracy as it reaps the results of political policies that ruined public education, undermines families, and now rebels against law, civility, and families.
So, I’m taking a political vacation.
A person needs time to think his own thoughts and enjoy the wonders of a normal day, therefore I’m skimming over political foibles in the news for a short while. It’s wonderful, like finding an open bag of chocolate chip cookies on the counter and you walk right by without reaching for one, you get on with your life.
At the moment our home looks like the government storage house in the last scene of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” because we’ve moved from a sprawling three-level house to a smaller townhouse. This has brought us face to face with materialism, condemned by the Bible. We have already thrown away loads of material yet somehow, we still have a great deal of stuff (1) we don’t need, (2) we have no emotional attachment to, and (3) we need to rid ourselves of fast.
My problem, though tolerated by my wife, is the compulsive purchase of books and music.
Shelves and shelves of complete works, heavy tomes, classics of all literary ages, sets of Bible commentaries, three shelves of famous authors, turrets of CD’s featuring folk, rock and roll, and big bands since 1940. I have enough books and music to occupy my waking hours until I am 527 years old. I bought them all myself, box by Amazon box, and am now loading them into a truck.
I had thought the decluttering of library and office would be painful but instead it is oddly exhilarating. I love feeling my life’s pretentions lighten up as I drop a long-running impersonation of an educated intellectual man and return to my roots --- another elderly country peasant who loves his home on a chilly winter evening and a warm supper with his gentle wife across the table, share some gossip, and then cut out the lights and slip under the covers together. I do not take my Bible commentaries to bed --- I’d rather hold on to her.
Tomorrow, the decluttering must be completed.
My wife has spent the last several weeks unpacking while I arranged transfers of our utilities, phone and TV service, garbage collection, etc. Over a year ago I was a public administrator striving to make a difference in this city, I made decisions, and now I am a village peasant lifting boxes for my wife. I like it.
I lie in bed with her now and turn out the light. First, sleep, and tomorrow finish the big job.
I imagine myself back to 1964 helping my father harness our old mule, Blue, for work in the tobacco fields. My father is smiling, I pull on the reins, the harness jingles, and old Blue turns toward rolling open green fields, and then there is nothing more.
Readers can write to Joe at Joehud@hotmail.com and Facebook (View from the Hudson). He is author of “Big Decisions are Best Made with Hot Dogs”.