I have minor annoyances, irritations, full-on depressive-rage-inducing triggers, and everything in between. And yet I keep trying. And yet I keep patiently waiting. And yet I bother to foster hope in my heart. It’s a consequence of my faith in God. That’s right, I blame him for this stupidity. But at least I’m not this bad:
It’s the last minute and thirty eight seconds. Jesus, I wish I had that much hope. A prayer, not blasphemy, mum, really.
Mitzi Gaynor, and Rodgers and Hammerstein, bless their hearts, try hard in their world of impending armageddon, post-depression depression, racism, war, poverty, to cast a warm, home-appreciating, loving, hopeful spin on it all. Including the whip-poor-will, a bird whose song was a death omen to the Native Americans. Not dramatic, like a Norse Valkyrie, flying in to take the souls of the valiant fallen to Valhalla, but almost teasing.
I’ve listened to the whip-poor-will, and honestly, I don’t know if it’s a song of hope or impending doom. They’re nocturnal and they eat bugs, so that’s always a good thing. Bats do too. I say, let them eat all the flying, nocturnal, infernal things. Mosquitoes. Moths. Flies. Beetles. So maybe it’s a good thing to hear a whip-poor-will. They’re hungry and they don’t eat souls, they eat the damned bugs. Maybe Mitzi wasn’t wrong.
I am certain the same shit that happens to me happens to everyone. Bug bites. Thistles in the yard. Weeds and thistles in the garden. Bruises. Traffic. Bullshit politics at work. Not having enough money to do shit you have to do. We all have to improvise and play the games. But that’s exactly the kind of minor annoyance, the kind of irritation that builds up. And then the triggers hit- death, destruction, helpless chaos, poverty, broken tooth decay, war, racism, and being called fucking “privileged.” The house falling apart when you don’t have enough money to fix the rotten boards on the outside of the house that are rotting because the construction asshats didn’t build it right. Plumbing. Flooring. Carpeting. Or being told, of my situation, “it’s not that bad.” Or being told, “you’re not good enough and nothing you do will ever be enough.”
The answer to all of this is money. I want the answer to be “yes.” If I was so fucking privileged, I’d be able to answer that shit, so shut the fuck up, because by saying I’m privileged and the reason I can’t imagine I’m privileged is because I’m an oblivious racist, makes you an oblivious racist. I try hard not to break laws and try hard not to draw attention to myself and I try hard not to offend, piss off, or threaten people in authority who have fucking guns, and if you feel threatened by cops maybe you should act like me.
If I really were privileged I wouldn’t be driving an old rusty car that needs new tires and a tune up and a few sensors that are tripping my check engine light and an oil change and better seals because there’s water in the floorboards and I didn’t drive through any deep water in the recent rainstorm or leave my windows down. If I really were privileged I’d make more money than whichever people of whatever race get hired as newbies, instead of them starting out with more than I earn after 10 years at the company.
And yet, despite all these triggers, I get up and go in to work every day when I’m not scheduled off, I still do the dishes and laundry and other chores despite my kids making excuses – “I have homework!” “I have an after-school activity.” “I’m tired.” Or the ever popular “I don’t want to.” In their defense, when the kids realize I’m about to lose my shit, they do what I asked, and they’ve been pretty good for the last couple of days without me or Mrs M having to bitch too much. Despite all these triggers I’m not paralyzed or deciding to tell life, and people, and my boss and my company and my family and my church and the world to go fuck themselves. I still have hope. It’s God’s fault. Because I think if I didn’t believe there must be something better after this shit hole, I’d surrender.
I fail all the damn time, at the simplest little shitty things. But I go on. Sure, occasionally there are little emotional breakdowns. Sure, there are occasionally screaming fits, and even occasionally rage directed at God because I don’t have the strength to deal with the shit he’s allowing to come into my life. There’s a verse I was taught some time ago that goes “A righteous man falls seven times.” Yeah, well, I’m not particularly righteous, and I know the rest of that verse. The whole thing goes, “though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.” And in the context it’s about telling people not to steal shit that isn’t theirs.
I like verse 19 and 20 a whole lot better than 15 and 16. “Do not fret because of evildoers or be envious of the wicked, for the evildoer has no future hope, and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out.” The problem there is, even if I’m “good,” and not a “wicked” “evildoer,” I’m headed for the same fate for this present life. King Solomon collected or wrote these proverbs. His dad King David wrote a lot of the psalms. David’s music director and co-composer Asaph, confessed in writing that he watched the shit people not only got away with but got rich doing, and it caused him to almost give up on doing what was right (Psalm 73). Later the prophet Jeremiah (the weeping prophet?) wrote to ask God why. So if I take any comfort it’s that I know people are doing the same shit they did three fucking thousand years ago and God is still making a way for people like me to just barely get through. Sure, I’d love the abundance of John 10:10. But abundance to me might mean something different than abundance to God. I wish I could figure this shit out.
I fail, I get up. It doesn’t mean I’m “righteous,” it means I’m stubborn. It doesn’t mean I swell with hope, it means I haven’t given up all hope yet.
I bought milk yesterday, saving a dollar because of the brand at the store I picked. It’s all milk, right? Wrong. Young Ms. M was equipped with a super-taster, or so she alleges. She won’t drink that one. Not to mention, the plastic jug has a leak somewhere. Fail. Fail. Fail. Fuck. But it’s only three dollars wasted. Except, instead of being nice and buying milk I could have bought a lottery ticket and might have won $151 million. Then she can go to the fucking dairy herself and pick out her own fucking cow. I’m not sure if she was offended by the hole in the jug or by the fact I confessed the milk I bought was cheaper than its’ next door neighbor in the same damned refrigerated case. I tried to save a little money and ended up just throwing it away. Fail. It was a trigger because I seem to have the innate ability to disappoint everyone no matter how hard I try.
So I’m triggered right now, and I really don’t want to do anything, but life calls and I fucking have to fucking answer it. I’m going to go answer something right now. If you draw any encouragement from me being so stubborn, I hope that it is to NOT give up yourselves.
The whip-poor-will is good, and people misjudge it. Except Mitzi. And maybe I’m good and those closest to me misjudge me. Including me. I would like to think I’m good enough, that is to say, adequate. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m actually “good.” Because I know the real me that you don’t. But I sure would like to either have the hope of a Mitzi song, or a few hundred million dollars, or more preferably, both.
After I answer the tasks that I have to handle, if I remember to, I’m going to buy a ticket if I can scrape up a buck or two. Wish me luck. Or pray, because I still believe God’s the one who picks the winner, and maybe I’ll have thrown away not just the money I wasted on the milk but an extra dollar on top of it, but maybe He’ll pick me.
Cynical optimism, I think that’s what it is. It certainly isn’t cockeyed. Because I start out thinking I have a chance, but I balance it with the knowledge that I may also have just took out a one dollar bill and lit a match to it. Meh. I’ll go back to work on Monday and try that shit again.
Not happy. Not hopeless. Somewhere in between. Hope sits in there with me, and although I wish it were a better companion, I could think of worse ones.