Saturday, April 6, 2013

Great moments in diversion

Ever go through one of those spells where you just can't muster up enough energy to think passionately about anything?

Ever find yourself focusing too much on the trivial things that -- in the big picture -- just don't seem to make much of a difference?

Welcome to my world.

Kim Jong Un of North Korea (I had to google North Korea just to get the name right) is threatening to blow up the world. There were shockingly pessimistic jobless figures for March at a time when a lot of people in my profession feel we could be joining the ranks. Gridlock lives .. not only in Washington but in my home state of Massachusetts, where the heavily Democratic house and senate stand poised to oppose Gov. Deval Patrick's tax initiatives (about which I have decidedly mixed feelings). I own two pieces of property (well half own one of them), and keeping track of every little detail of both can be a pretty time-consuming chore.

Yet ...

The Red Sox won three out of four to open the season and that preoccupies my time.

What has me up at night is not whether I've dotted every I and crossed every T over the tax situation, or whether I've positioned myself to transition smoothly when the time comes. It's whether John Lackey can come back and be at least a shell of what he was when the Red Sox signed him before the 2010 season.

If someone in either North Korea, China, or the U.S. gets nervous and presses the wrong button, there may not be a June ... this year or ever. Yet I still walk the floors wondering whether David Ortiz will be back in the lineup by June ... or by anytime.

The MBTA -- a lifeline to myself and a lot of other people when it comes to commuting -- is in trouble. It has a debt that's approaching our own national shortfall. To close it, fares will have to rise astronomically, and that could curtail a lot of recreational commuting on my part (I love just hopping on the T and exploring different parts of Boston), not to mention necessary transportation too.

Yet ... what's going to happen to the Patriots without Wes Welker and Danny Woodhead? They were Tom Brady's two main third-down weapons, and they both walked out of town.

 I'm approaching 60, and while I've resigned myself that my health is as much my own responsibility as it is fate's, I have a long way to go before I could ever pronounce myself fit. I work at it, yet sometimes it seems I'm losing the battle. At different times, the knees hurt, the feet hurt, the back hurts ... and despite my attention to diet and exercise, there are still far too many pounds on this body. I know I can do better. And I know even more that I should.

But I wish the Celtics could get Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in the lineup at the same time ... or how about at all? Last night, neither played and they Celtics lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers. At home. The Cleveland Cavaliers!!!!

It's bad enough they lost Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger. But why can't Pierce and Garnett be healthy?

If the people who lead this country don't all get lobotomies real soon and emerge from them with a mind to sit down and listen to opposing points of view -- and to emerge with common ground from which to work -- there's going to be a nasty revolution (maybe even in my lifetime), the results of which I'm sure I'm not going to like. Already, there's a petition to make Christianity the official religion of South Carolina (this so they can re-institute prayer in public schools and post the Ten Commandments in the courthouse). Never mind that the people who came up with this proposal don't see the irony of blatantly violating the very spirit of the First Amendment while arguing that a poorly-written clause in the Second Amendment prohibits any sensible discussion about guns.

Some congressman (I don't know from where) has proposed a constitutional amendment so that Barack Obama can have a third term. Conservatives are practically soiling themselves over it. I guess they forget they control the House, so we all have a better chance of seeing God than seeing this proposal emerge from oblivion. This doesn't even get into the reason the two-term limit was adopted after Franklin Roosevelt's death.

There's a tension in this country from one end to the other, and the less optimistic among us can't help but fear that the whole thing's just going to blow over some trivial issues like, say, the president tossing off a casual remark about the pleasant-looking attorney general from California. This isn't the way the system was set up to work, and if you're not fearful of what could happen if things continue in this direction, you should be.

But should Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins retire? I think he should. Four concussions in five years is is enough for anybody. He seems like too good a guy, and I worry that long-term ramifications of all these concussions is going to compromise his quality of life as he gets older. I can't get Junior Seau out of my mind.

What makes this even worse is that he's probably the best all-around forward on the Bruins, and his loss would be staggering.

And even though the country is in political turmoil -- so much so that you can't even appoint a dog-catcher anymore without a tumultuous congressional hearing -- I worry more about Bergeron.

All right, then. Why? Why the constant effort to retreat from worrying about the important things in our lives only to be taken up by things in which we either have no hand or no important stake?

I guess there's no easy answer. If there was, and I could find it, I'd be rich. I'd have so many clients I'd have to turn them away ... and I'd be picking my annual destination vacations with no thought of budgetary limits.

But isn't it the truth? Don't we just get all wrapped up in minutia? There are really important things going on, both in our lives and in the world. But all of it comes to a screeching halt so we can obsess over "Dancing with the Stars," or some reality show that is so far from being real it's laughable.

If I had to venture a guess, I'd say that the stickier the issue is, the less willing we are to confront it. We keep putting it on the back burner. We know that whatever decision is ultimately made it's going to impact someone close to us negatively, so we put it out of our minds.

On a more national scale, I think many of us secretly want this gridlock, because we know that in order to resolve some of the monumental challenges facing us, the solutions are going to come at a cost ... either directly through our wallets or in our quest for a better, more comfortable life. I'm just optimistic enough to think that the majority of us are not dumb ... and that we know enough about arithmetic to know understand simple economics. What we don't know is how adversely the solutions to some of these problems are going end up affecting us, so rather than seek them, we hide in the illusion that doing nothing is better. Doing nothing might affect someone, but it might not affect us.

And to fill the vacuum, we devote all our attention to whether we want Tiger Woods to win the Master's next weekend, or whether we want to see him hit off the squash by a Phil Mickelson drive and knocked into next Tuesday (for the record, I'm rooting for him; just one more in an endless second acts that this country is all-too-willing to give people; see Lewis, Ray, Baltimore Ravens).

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