Bobbing up and down in the middle of the San Diego Bay, clinging to the possessions we had frantically gathered after our kayaks had been blown away by an oblivious military helicopter, and without any rescue in sight, I looked at my son and said, "We should have just stayed home today."
Through his blueish lips and chattering teeth he said, almost indignantly, "What are you talking about? This is way more interesting!"
I laughed and tucked the humorous little life lesson in the back of my mind for future use, and I recall it quite often, as I'm especially prone to "interesting" turns of events (a car accident, a spill at the gym that earned me 14 staples in my head, and so on). I think, well, it's not an adventure if nothing bad happens, right?
But until today, it hadn't occurred to me that this might be a suitable philosophy for the grander scheme of life, the universe, and everything.
The recent catastrophic election of Trump, and the overwhelming deluge of all my worst fears about his presidency coming to fruition with a rapidity that has surprised even me, left me in such an emotional state that I actually sort of identified with the last three syndromes that Robert Reich outlines in his discussion about the Four Dangerous Signs of Passivity in the face of Trump Tyranny (though not to the point of passivity in my case).
At any rate, I have been trying on a lot of different reactionary philosophies without any of them fitting very well. From feeling like we should be rioting in the streets, "burn this motherfucker to the ground and start over," to feeling like I should shut down this blog, withdraw from my activist groups, and stop caring entirely, "what difference does any of it make anyway?"
But the philosophy I've finally arrived at is beautiful in its all-encompassing simplicity.
I had been listening to Machiavelli's "The Prince" in the hope of gleaning some political wisdom from a parallel time, and it occurred to me that it's not just parallel, but the same story over and over and over throughout modern history: the freedoms we gain and the republics we build are stolen out from under us by the rich and powerful with the tools of religion and war. And we keep going through the motions again and again like the movie Groundhog Day; to the point of comedy.
But my epiphany was this: why should I be any more angry about the dissolution of our own republic than about the War of the League of Cambrai? The events seem every bit as inevitable. Like reading a history book that has already been written. Like the Tralfamadorians in Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five explain, "All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I've said before, bugs in amber."
And of all the times to be alive, to be experiencing this play first hand... what better time than here and now?
There are no songs or novels or history chapters detailing the times of abundance of peace and freedom (none worth noting, anyway).
An unattributed quote on Facebook pointed out that when you were sitting in History class thinking about what you would have done if you were alive then; "You're alive now. Whatever you're doing is what you would have done."
What better role to play in history than to be a resistor of tyranny?
Because tyranny will fall.
And each and every one of us will die just the same.
So it goes.