"El Loco Rises"
created by
Michael McCaffery

Updated November 28, 2022

Santa Fe

Thoughts

or

Unsettling Thoughts

It seems that the more I devolve into what the medical community calls “dementia,” that seem to have more and more thoughts and many more questions about the experience.  And so it seemed  - as always and as is my custom - to be a good time to write about my experience for clarity and posterity.

Of course, I have done this earlier on various websites, mostly for my own “sanity” (a thoroughly misunderstood concept from the standpoint of the demented one), and have found that writing about it has about the same effect as the various medications I am taking, which is:  Nothing particularly discernable, but likely useful in some way.   Of course, I have no “control” situation, so I do not know how I would be were I not demented, so the Reader begins to see the problem, yet at this point, it is increasingly unimportant to me, as are many other things that now often demand by time and energy.

I will, however, volunteer the insight, as I have written elsewhere, that life and the various issues, problems, tribulations, and vicissitudes seem to be diminishing in importance, alone with an increase in the malady, resulting in a new space of wonder within me at how simple life can actually be, providing it is not encumbered by what passes for thinking in fertile, active, and imaginative brains (said, of course, with all due humility).

I will parenthetically acknowledge that I write horrendously long sentences, for which I apologize, but when I am on a roll, I hate to stop as I might lose my train of thought.   Feel free to grab another cup of coffee as I write out what is in my mind, to the extent possible.

And so I hereby launch yet another fusillade of thoughts on being almost 80 years old with a withering brain, increasingly un-used and possibly mis-used brain cells, and a new lease on what we call “life.”  Be prepared for wit, whimsy, wistfulness, and wonder, along with copious quantities of “why” followed as usual by “why not?”

Further, I am creating this with Google Docs, rather than MS Word, and it is a huge shift for me, since I have been using Microsoft products since before Bill Gates was born (it seems), and shifting to some foreign text writer created by millenials is difficult for almost 80-year- old traditionalist (with a few stunning exceptions here and there).  However, I found my new brain unable to download into my old remaining brain the new skills involved with Google Docs in anything other than the simple plain text, so here we all are, back once again safely ensconced in the everlasting comfort of MS Word.

And not only that, I am attempting to launch a career as an acrylic landscape painting artist, and have procured the appropriate materials from the local high-end craft store, within the Walmart supercenter (very cheap, too).   I did not have the requisite beret and goatee to be permitted to shop in the high-end local “artist” store in downtown Santa Fe, nor do I have the liquid net worth to do so.

I have had limited success so far, and have broken through my self-imposed ceiling and have now produced a small landscape painting that looks more like the photos I am using for inspiration (taken outside our home) rather than a muddy-like swath of brownish liquid on a white 8” by 10” canvas surface.  I hope to improve considerably, and likely will give Hunter Biden stiff competition, except for the part about his connections to the art world, not to mention the political and chemical ones.  I will post photos within this document should I gather up enough courage.  Since I know not where this might lead, nor do you, the Reader, let us now begin.

The stunning art work will be coming soon, once our internet connection is repaired; it has only been three days now, so it should not be much longer.  Coincidentally, as I was writing this, along came a breaking news flash and update:   It will take about another week to get our internet back up again, per Liz.   She is handling all the financial matters now, doing a superb job, and is engaged in a battle royal with Century Link, and I assume her name is now legend, based on my interpretation of her verbal interactions with them.

For example, she has told them that we will not pay for the time the internet is down, which is some sort of victory, I suppose, so Century Link will not have our money and we continue to have no internet.  I would rather they have our money, and we have their internet, but I am for understandable reasons not permitted to negotiate directly, since all I use are four letter words usually, and I am not talking about “work” and “good.”

I would take over internet duties, but Century Link is the primary game in town, followed by NM Surf, a New Mexico internet provider, but we have little information on them other than “word of mouth.”  I’ll investigate them soon as I get an internet connection at some point in the future.

Did I mention that one of the skills I am rapidly developing is to have no expectation of anything happening quickly, so that one is not disappointed?  I am a slow learner, unfortunately, but I am slowly learning to go with the flow.  

Which leads me into the next part of the agonizing truth, which is that almost everything I do involves the internet in some way.  This is quite a stunning realization, since I am basically illiterate now without spell check, trying to use big and impressive words, and my rants and raves are not able to be read by others, and my dog does not understand anyway as he has other priorities.  I have finally come face to face with the Gates Of Hell, and I find that I do not like this forlorn and very unfriendly place.

I am also afraid to use short sentences since an internet connection can somehow discern a pause, and take that opportunity to discontinue the connection in favor of someone more politically connected, or at least has the correct political, social, and cultural attitude.  And so I have come face-to-face (again) with the unpleasant fact of a deeply meaningless and empty life, devoid of anything brought forth via pixels, and the bottomless chasm into which I peer is fearsome.  It is sort of like it likely was a hundred years ago, which is the business model we love, respect, and avidly use here in New Mexico, and I do mean that kindly.

And so, all I can do is rant and rave to my laptop, which is not connected to sentient civilization at this point, and only on a good day at other times.   I would be missing news of all the murder, mayhem, and mischievous shenanigans going on elsewhere.  That could possibly be good news, but then what would I do for entertainment?

I lived for about a year and a half in Sicily in the late sixties (last century), and the power and water were shut off each afternoon for economic reasons for several hours in Catania, one of the largest cities in this Italian Mediterranean paradise (according to the tour books).  It was always siesta time anyway (faithfully observed by all, even civil servants), and so I am used to malfunction, misfunction, and dysfunction. 

While there I Sicily, I was a Civil Engineer Corps naval officer assigned to public works duty at the naval air facility at Sigonella (known as NAF Sigonella) about 20 miles west of Catania, where we had our own massive generator so we could continue to launch and land planes to play serious footsy with Russian submarines during the Cold War.  As an added afterthought, and a good one, the generator was also used to keep the ice frozen for the three clubs on the base that served as watering holes for the Navy personnel (almost always after duty hours, of course).

The primary mission of the naval base was to track Russian submarines, and the massive generator also provided power to generate ice cubes for when the sailors and airmen were off duty.  Some mistakenly thought that to be the primary mission.  The second mission, as Assistant Public Works Officer, was actually my primary duty, and since I had a dog or two in that fight, I made darned sure the generator worked, and the ice was plentifully available, or else.  The power for the generator was also used to maintain, land, fly, and takeoff he airplanes assigned to the base, as long as the ice cube supply was sufficient and the Russkies were behaving themselves. 

Since I do not know where this might further lead (nor do you, the Reader), let us begin, or at least change the subject.

I shall consult with the muse and report back when the mission is accomplished.  Dismissed!

 

     "Easter" seems like an appropriate title for an essay on spirituality, religion, and ethics, which for me are all wrapped into one delicious topic for this or any season.

 

     As always, I have little to say that has not been said far better and more understandably elsewhere, but having little to say - for me at least - does not very often translate into nothing to say.

 

     Most of my long term very good friends are Catholic, and this is a very special day for them, and of course for all believers in the divinity of Jesus Christ.   I was raised that way, and my parents insisted I go to church every Sunday (although they never did) because it “was good for me.”   I can see the value in that, as the teachings of the bible have universal application, and growing up in the deep South (not only Kentucky, but also Alabama) enabled me to sample various off-shoots of what Jesus Christ, both the actual person and the subsequent myth, reportedly did and said.   I was well coached in this, and it informed my life as I was growing up, and provided some standards of conduct which were invaluable to me, especially when I actually occasionally conformed to those standards.

Some of my most memorable moments came when in the presence of a very dynamic, persuasive, and highly theatrical preacher who was extolling the horrors of hell-fire and damnation, in a way that would put Elmer Gantry (as portrayed by Burt Lancaster in the movie "Elmer Gantry" from 1960) to shame.   It was meant to gain attention, get the point across easily, and was terrifying yet titillating all at the same time.  When the movie was released, I was ushering in the best theater in Louisville, Kentucky, right after high school, at fifty cents an hour, right before entering college, and I was able to see that movie at least fifty times.   I knew every line of dialogue, each nuance, and was forever enthralled and changed.  Of course, the book and movie made him into a con-man, and naturally there was the requisite redemption at the end, but it stands to this day in my memory as a life-changing experience for me.

 

     I was easily caught up in that era in the rules and regulations about how to conduct one’s self, and this likely kept me (mostly, but not always) out of “trouble,” whatever that was and is.   It was a good if inflexible model which I sorely needed.  As I have grown older, I have put aside my sophomoric inherent aversion to the rules, regulations, processes, demands, and entreaties contained in religion (and not-so-surprisingly in other areas, also), and have seen how important a standard of conduct was - and is - to allow a society to thrive and grow and provide a template or standard for interaction with other living beings, of all sorts, kinds, shapes, sizes, colors, and all the other myriad ways we want to measure our differences.

 

     I also know that no belief system is not without its faults (sometimes we look only for the fault, notwithstanding the overall message of love, peace, tolerance, and acceptance, if available and discernable).  We do this within the context of the tolerance of the observer, and one can find fault with many good and useful things in the world, should one be looking for and open to them.   I discovered that finding fault was easy for me, and living by the precepts of what I read and thought useful was a tad more difficult.

 

     As we grow from children to adults, I believe we incorporate - or discard - those beliefs and attitudes and ways of interacting with others into our lives, and this allows a somewhat common shared belief of the Zeitgeist of our own perception of the world we inhabit.   Out of those common shared beliefs come standards of conduct that allow civilizations to live peacefully and cooperatively together (which is the stated or alleged goal, at least much of the time), depending on the amount of tolerance we ourselves have toward “the others” who may not share our beliefs and teachings.  I submit that this is the one of the necessary keys to actualizing the concept of civilization, which is a work slowly in progress.

 

     The longer I live, the more I see the importance of tolerance and acceptance in being able to live a full, useful, joyous, and meaningful life.   I know this because I am not “there” yet, having my old judgements and opinions and myths and inherent contradictions and absurdities still with me, always there to be re-examined and hopefully left behind, so as to more easily proceed into "the light."  I move along that tenuous path constantly, if a bit irregularly, and I have learned the hard way the great power of forgiveness, especially for one’s own Self.

 

     And it is especially so today, Easter, and I still struggle a bit with meeting my own standards for love and tolerance, and all that “good” stuff, but I am far more forgiving of myself (and strangely, forgiving also of others as a seeming result of that) than I used to be, for which I am grateful.  It makes live lighter, easier, more fun, more pleasant, and allows others to find their own path as they see fit.   

 

     Letting go of my “judgment” is one of the most difficult exercises I have encountered, and it must be renewed daily to be effective - at least for me.  To my great surprise, it was not too long ago that I realized that it is far easier to forgive others than to forgive myself, perhaps because I mistakenly set myself apart from others as having “higher” standards.  I now see this error clearly, yet still have some difficulty with implementing it.  

 

     As my time here in Santa Fe begins the final chapter, I am finding great comfort in the Spanish phrase “vaya con dios” which sums it all up neatly and crisply.

May it be so with you, also.

 

Michael McCaffery

“El Loco”

Santa Fe NM

(To Be Continued – Possibly and Maybe)