A Forest of Thoughts

There is so much on my mind right now that I can’t seem to zero in on a particular subject. And I just did yoga, which is supposed to center me. Which it did, while I was staring up into the waving branches of a Southern California black walnut tree. I was meditating on sacrificing, on bringing things to the altar, as per the sermon I listened to yesterday. In my tradition we have altar prayer during worship wherein we approach the altar (in front of the pulpit) and pray for people. In addition, we are to leave things there. It’s a parallel of the Old Testament practice of bringing animal sacrifices to the priest in repentance for misdeeds and the like. It’s a nice thing to do, and I was doing that under the walnut tree this morning.

But then I went to Von’s — California’s Stop ‘n’ Shop. And it’s just really hard to stay centered in a grocery store. At any time, but even more so now because, well, COVID. I’m trying to avoid people (even more than usual) and I don’t know about you but I find it quite hard to see with my mask on. It cuts off my peripheral (or lateral?) vision. Anyway, I did find the lactose free cottage cheese I like, so that was a win.

I’m actually worried — which I don’t do much — about all the news reports on the national election polls. I feel like I’m in some kind of repeat of 2016, but I’m the only one who knows it already happened! Remember 2016? Polls? Hillary Clinton? The presidential election results? Folks stayed home because the polls “said” Clinton was going to win. Yes, she did win the popular vote, but seeing as how that’s not the way our electoral system works it seems like a pretty irrelevant thing to say. Like pointing out that one tennis player actually won more points than her victorious opponent. Don’t matter. The opponent is the one lifting the trophy. So yeah, I’m worried that people are going to get complacent(er) and not vote. Or vote for a third party — which we totally need, but the subject must remain moot for now. (But just wait until after the election. There are a lot of organizations out there with big plans to remind us that we have choices).

Now worry doesn’t have to equal anxiety. My friend in Atlanta and I were talking about this via Webex the other night. Because to worry something is literally to turn it over and over. To ruminate intellectually, maybe. We all know about worry beads and worry stones, right? So when I use the word worry here, I think I really mean that I’m mad as hell at the media for perpetuating their mistakes of 2016. Everyone from The Los Angeles Times to National Public Radio is guilty. These stats are saturating the ears of our citizens and that’s dangerous. A pundit recently said something like: polls tell us what people ate for breakfast, what they might eat for lunch, but definitely not what’s for dinner. So we have to make sure we elect the dinner of our choice!

Another thing on my mind is that I have a virtual conference this week, and I find that super depressing. Granted, there are all sorts of creative technical initiatives that the organization is employing in order to convene us folks, but it just feels like I’m in a giant game of Sims, the Academic Version — and I don’t want to play. Somebody tweeted that they missed the bad coffee and crowded receptions and even the read-straight-from-the paper-presentations of live conferences. And the laughing, and the drinking, and the thinking as a physical collective. Sigh. I need to embrace this moment, to compromise my expectations — as I’ve written about in the past. Easier written than done, apparently.

Anyway this blog is more affective than usual and I appreciate your indulgence. As I said, my mind is full. Maybe I’ll just go out to my sandy yard for a while, lie down on one of the plank benches, and stare at a lemon tree. It worked once, maybe it’ll work again.

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