Discontinuity Notice: Future now postponed indefinitely
Like a favorite store that has closed its doors, or a tasty treat you can no longer find, you wake up one morning and realize that the brand called America has been discontinued.
Philosophies are suddenly irrelevant. Signposts that have guided your life have inexplicably been moved. Even that lucky old Sun who has nothing to do but roll around Heaven all day now dawns at a different angle. Its out-of-place shadows defy comprehension, and chill the back of your neck.
As life erodes from weeks into days and hours into minutes, we yearn for familiar annoyances that have gone missing. Once we lived in a house we always complained about. Now that it's gone we miss its sweet shortcomings, the odd clank of the furnace, the rattle of its shingles in the wind. How we loved to gripe about the neighbor's dog! That damn dog.
No more. All gone. The mundane markers by which we kept our balance are missing, and we teeter on the edge of a chasm with no bottom. As more money buys less every day.
The politicians say one thing; the people say another. The politicians are not believed; the people are not heard.
Who is the thief of our future? we wonder. How did this burglary occur?
Look no further than our own expectations. How could we have possibly believed that we didn't have to pay attention to the forces on which the foundation of our lives were based? People we trusted took care of all that, systems long in place assured our security, so our memorized actions could routinely recur.
Yet almost no one ever did pay attention, locked in as we were to the pursuit of illusions, foolish desires for acceptance, or games that reminded us of nothing so we didn't have to actually think.
Those who did pay attention were ridiculed as foolish, out of style in a world dithered by distractions, its inhabitants consistently oblivious to the darkening handwriting on the wall.
Those who know hunger look up at us from their places in the gutter and chide, "See? I told you so." The clerk at the county office simply says, "You have to pay now or we'll take it!" Outside in the cold drizzle, we realize, it has been taken.
Protestations that we should have been warned echo in the empty parking spaces of repossessed cars, in the memory of notices we ignored, taxes we couldn't pay, or appointments we postponed.
As we pretend that life is still right on schedule we ignore the jeering proclamation that our future has been postponed indefinitely. And we confront the searing notion of what that means.
This is all familiar territory to me, but it doesn't make it feel any better. Friends can't help because they face the same things. Strangers buy more ammo to prepare for desperate legions of the dispossessed scratching on our windows, screeching from starvation.
Where once people sought your favor, they now pass by you in hasty but suppressed unease, hurrying home to deadbolt their doors. They've already forgotten they knew you. It must have been somebody else, they reason. "Besides, I never liked him anyway," they whisper to themselves in the gloaming twilight.
Through the wired plate glass of the gizmo store, the smiling face on the tube explains the need for higher taxes, as you claw your pocket for enough coins for the nearest and cheapest burger, and you think . . .
America as a melting pot? The pot has melted.
Brave orators counsel complex strategies for reversal of misfortune. All have a certain slant to their scams that their patrons require. As they do to all street preachers, people rush by, pretending to have important appointments they are late for, classes to attend, or courses to teach.
But in the hour of silence in a house grown cold, you remember that every promise every politician has ever made has never been kept, as you fondle unopened envelopes that no strategy will assuage.
This, they say, is where prayer comes in handy. Pray away your hunger, brother! This is the effectiveness of religion. In your addled state of FDA-approved nutritional deficiency, you cogitate the possibility and calculate the profit potential of starting a new business called the Prayer Diet. As you grit your teeth, your stomach growls approvingly.
But whether you're on the outside looking in at the well-stuffed turkey on the well-appointed table, or on the inside looking out at the wide-eyed panic of the hungry faces looking in, the feeling is exactly the same.
Fed or not fed, we're all in the same sinking boat.
It is impossible to think of tomorrow, because the future has been postponed indefinitely.
Primping and pimping, the powerful puppets recruit new robots to take our places.
You want a plan? There are plenty of plans. And none of them work.
"You offer no solutions," the addled listener complains. "Tell me yours," I wheeze in reply.
The store has gone out of business. Somewhere someone is singing. But not here, in the silent street where the cold wind blows cellophane and sand into little tornadoes.
John Kaminski is a writer who lives on the Gulf Coast of Florida, constantly trying to figure out why we are destroying ourselves, and pinpointing a corrupt belief system as the engine of our demise. Solely dependent on contributions from readers, please support his work by mail: 250 N. McCall Rd. #2, Englewood FL 34223 USA.