I wasn’t born a doomer, nor a social critic. The path was long and imperial, albeit dotted with few indulgences, as least by “civilized” standards.
I was born in a small town. I was taught to fear Jesus in another small town, the backwoods logging burg where I misspent my youth. It was the 1960s and the country was in the midst of its cultural revolution. I didn’t know much about the revolution — tiny, insular towns weren’t globalized back in the days of my youth, and I was a kid interested in hunting, fishing, and baseball.
Fast forward to the glory days of high school, where I was a decent athlete, excellent student (that is, a product and proponent of empire), and all-around smartass. I spent a summer in the deep South, where I discovered African Americans and therefore blatant racism (we ignorantly and indiscriminately hated all people of color where I grew up, but the primary “other” was native Americans because there were very few other non-Caucasians around).
Off to college, then, with a pocket full of dreams. Sadly, I was too late for either the cultural revolution or the sexual revolution. By my sophomore year in college, it was “morning in America” and we were governed by an actor whose best roles revealed him as cowboy and father of a chimp. He ripped the solar panels off the White House, rolled back the level playing field for non-fossil energy sources, laughed off the notion of conservation, and promoted globalization at all costs. I’m not pleased to hear it’s morning in America all over again. Like most Americans, I ignored the whole mess the first time around by attempting to become a silver-tongued devil in this best of all possible worlds, looking for a lover who wouldn’t drive me crazy while chasing women and basketball. Although I failed with most of those pursuits, I learned a bit about catastrophes and the power of nature by herding wildfires during the summer months and witnessing remarkable natural phenomena: I know exactly where I was when I experienced ambient temperature of -52 F, and also when Mt. St. Helens blew her top.
On to graduate school on the plains of western Texas, where I learned more about fire ecology and finally got a little culture. Yes, you read that correctly: I was so lacking in culture that the Texas panhandle provided a decent start. Throughout the whole grad-school experience, I was growing older but not up. By all accounts, I was impressive, young and aggressive, saving the world on my own. Nearly five years later, Ph.D. in hand, happiness was Lubbock, Texas in my rear-view mirror. By this time, I could imagine there’s no heaven — it’s easy if you try.
On the road again, this time back to the South to study theoretical ecology and conservation biology and learn more about racism. Staying on the nose-to-the-grindstone track, keeping the blinders on while developing a budding career, I made another stop in Texas before landing in Tucson, Arizona, where they built a bunch of ugly boxes. Jesus, people bought ’em.We were among the buyers and, for us, it was paradise.
Somewhere along the way, I started thinking about the whole rotten, stinking offal we’ve created. I noticed the search for the truth is conducted with a wink and a nod. The latest spin on the shit we’re in began to eke into my consciousness, and I started weaving my own version of it. Through serious study (for the first time, for me) and brain-taxing thought (which didn’t take much, given how little I’d used the atrophying gray matter), I decided to speak truth to power regardless of the cost to my so-called career. At this point, I’ll keep fighting authority, knowing authority will always win. At this point, I’m the same old trouble they’ve been having for years.
If I were to pick a theme song, John Mellencamp’s Authority Song would be the one. At some point, not so far away, nature becomes the ultimate authority. And that’s when I’ll stop fighting authority. At that point, I’ll need a new theme song. Got any ideas?
Finally, nearly 50 years into this life, I love the now, and the here. When it all comes tumbling down, we’ll all be living close to nature. Personally, I look forward to living in the world. And perhaps I’ll be able to charm the small crowd of neighbors, making them dance till they all fall down.
Looking for silly self-indulgence? You’ve come to the right blog.