I’m in that love affair stage of a new research topic. I like learning new stuff, pulling together an ambitious outline, and then chunking it into manageable steps. I can spend hours just surfing through links on the computer. The topic is spinning away in my head as I go about my day, sucking up brain band width.
At some point, I’ll have the green light from editors and I can start making phone calls. Even that stage is fun. The horrible part is always assembling the mess into a coherent story, but we’re so far away from that stage that I’m not even worrying about it. I’m still in honeymoon land.
So, what’s going on in the world? We have pipe bombs, crazy vans, and a psychopath mowing down grandmas in a synagogue. Far right candidates win elections in Brazil and Italy. I’m not even sure what to write about all that. We live in a despicable world right now. We’re all characters in a Young Adult dystopian novel.
Why are we here? Shabby schools, social isolation, a weak safety net for the mentally ill, workforce transformations, the Internet? I’m not sure and I don’t think anyone knows. And out here, in the real world, I don’t see a lot of people who are terribly concerned. It’s amazing how quickly we’ve become numbed to random acts of violence and death. People are just too busy trying to get through work loads and family responsibilities. With my latest research obsession and an extended family dinner last night, I suppose I’m no different.
But perhaps that’s okay. We can cultivate goodness in our little spheres. We can make sure our kids finish their reading assignments, and that the oldies are given a proper Sunday dinner. Maybe the perfection of a spinach lasagna can provide some cosmic balance to the evil in the rest of the world. Maybe.
Sometimes it feels like I live in a split screen world with the horrors on cable TV on one screen and the day-to-day mundanities and pleasures of the real world on the other. All I can do is vote. And write. That I can do, too.