I have not been blogging much lately and I’m sure it is because of a lingering “writer’s block” that I’ve suffered for three decades plus, a malady that prevented me from ever finishing my history thesis back in the 80’s. But, also, I know that I often “shut down” when under great stress such as now, with a pending move to another state when I’m too old to do something so foolish! But it is interesting that my “shut down” comes in the form of stopping blogging when I know, that clinically speaking, a “shut down” often comes in a more dramatic form of “vegetative depression” in which one can’t even get out of the bed in the morning. This form of depression is merely a visceral statement to God that, “Hey! This is too much. I quit.” It is also true that there are times when the “shut down” takes a more drastic, fatal step and a person will tell God, “Hey, I want outa here! Beam me on up. There is nothing here for me.” Or as Hamlet put it when beset by his tragic melancholy, “O God! God! How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable, seem to me all the uses of this world. Things rank and gross in nature possess it merely.” To paraphrase an earlier thought of his, he was saying “Why put up with all of this when I could ‘my quietus make with a bare bodkin’”?
Now, I’m amazed that I’ve never been THAT shut down! Sure, I go on strike against life…and its responsibilities…from time to time, but I appear to be blessed with Hope, that deep-seated knowledge that “this too shall pass.” And, very relevant to that is the knowledge that I, too, “shall pass” and that puts everything in perspective. And, rather than let that knowledge of my finitude overwhelm and crush me, I seem to have the Grace to get off my backside…most of the time…and continue to “chop wood, carry water.” And I take comfort that some of my “chopping wood, carrying water” will make the world a little better for those that I leave behind. But I must confess that my “chopping wood, carrying water” is not “up to snuff” as much as I’d like it to be. But I’m making progress at times!
And I think as a culture, and even as a species, we need this grasp of our finitude, this understanding that collectively “I, too, shall pass” and that it is important to leave our world a better place for our children, especially for those most recent “crops” that have come along. On this note, I’m made to think of the Atlanta Braves baseball team’s recent decision to raze its 17 year old stadium to build a new “modern” stadium with more of the “bells and whistles” of those built in recent years. Turner Field, its present stadium, cost 209 million dollars in 1997 to build and in 2017 it will be razed as a new 672 million dollar facility that will be constructed. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we lived in a world where the city fathers who are making this decision would suddenly have a change of heart and say, “Hey, we can continue to ‘slum along’ in this present stadium and instead invest this 672 million into education for our children?” Why not? Turner Field is still beautiful, a true work of art. I know. I’ve been there! But this decision is illustrative of values decisions which are made routinely made in our culture and in our world. We spend our money on things that have no lasting value whereas money invested in our citizenry…especially our children…would be to invest in something of lasting value.
And, this issue always make me think of my favorite Shakespearean sonnet where he lamented our tendency to emphasize the trivial and let the essential go unattended:
Poor soul, the centre of my sinful earth,
Thralled to these rebel powers that thee array
Why dost thou pine within and suffer dearth,
Painting thy outward walls so costly gay?
Why so large cost, having so short a lease,
Dost thou upon thy fading mansion spend?
Shall worms, inheritors of this excess,
Eat up thy charge? Is this thy body’s end?
Then soul, live thou upon thy servant’s loss,
And let that pine to aggravate thy store;
Buy terms divine in selling hours of dross;
Within be fed, without be rich no more:
So shall thou feed on Death, that feeds on men,
And Death once dead, there’s no more dying then.