We are Stories

Stories. As a species, we have consistently demonstrated a love for stories. They bring us reflection, resonance, and comfort. Stories are time machines and highways to tomorrow but also, they are -or can be- the cement that binds the disparate parts of today.

More than simple entertainment, stories represent our hopes, fears, passions but perhaps above all, a way to understand our existential questions. Most of our answers or theoretical musings in stories come from a historical context; where we were may provide a point of view to understand where we are.

Ironically, our answers to vexing questions are part of a subject that isn’t popular. History. Many of us go green in the face when some rare person waxes poetic about the joys and virtues of history. What do you suppose is behind this almost universal apathy toward something possessing so much value?

Could history lack – of all things – relevance? Are the volumes of addressable history just dry as dust, duller than a bland recitation of facts and figures? Are the uncounted significant events in Human history just too remote in time to be meaningful to the average person alive today?

If the above is so, how does historical “stuff” figure so prominently in stories? A person wiser than I once told me any fact or condition of a historical nature must be absolutely relevant to the person trying to absorb it. To be otherwise a historical fact becomes nothing but a desiccated footnote in a book they will never read.

How then to relate history so that it becomes alive with relevance? Clearly, textbooks in school are not the answer and likely the chief reason for the great snore in history class. Perhaps history must not only be relevant but resonate personally, perhaps answer questions and solve problems before it is perceived as generally useful if not valuable.

There must be a human connection beyond the academic and esoteric lecture or the ponderous book. We can’t speak at length about the engineering marvel of Hadrian’s Wall in Northern England without anchoring the story in the lives of the Romans who lived there. When we speak of the garbage pits filled with worn-out socks and then find letters home asking for more socks, we put a most human context on the story of Hadrian’s Wall.

What soldier hasn’t known a period where his clothes had become worn and the weather wicked? This then is the linchpin between dry academic recitation and a contemporary human: meaningful impactful history that makes sense to modern daily life.

History applied in stories can resonate with our lives by giving knowledge that makes today better. There is much in the past of use in the present, but it’s up to all of us to relate it to the present. Know any good stories?

An Escape to Reality

I’m an inveterate fan of hard science fiction. An exceptional science fiction story is underpinned by theoretical if not practical science. A slavish hanging-on to incontrovertible fact isn’t necessary; however, an appreciation of what is scientifically unlikely can only aid the development of a believable yarn.

The purpose of a good science fiction story can be to show us the potential of a future reality. Hard science fiction can take us closer to reality, an aspirational reality, a better place to be than today. It’s essentially the difference between Star Trek and Star Wars.

This article is not about the virtues of Star Trek over Star Wars. Yet there is a lesson about how we approach the future through science over fantasy. The reality of the future is science; fantasy is the province of dreams.

I look to hard science fiction as not only the stuff of a good story but a path to a believable optimistic future reality. In the end, science – whether in story or present day life- is the only starship that will get us to the reality of tomorrow.

The Beginning of this Particular End

Today we are “achieving” a daily infection rate of 125,000 per day across the USA. Much of this is due to the persistent belief that the vaccines or even the process of regular vaccinations in general are unnecessary or even a politically driven agenda with a nefarious objective. It’s an exceptionally tired refrain at this point that shouldn’t be contending with the Olympic Mons size pile of scientific data; naturally, though, it is.

Human stubbornness being what it is, this particular cultural conundrum will work itself out, no doubt to the utter detriment of the hidebound Americans clinging to the lies, mistruths, ignorance, and, yes, the willful manipulation of self-serving individuals and groups. Given that, perhaps it’s time I end the COVID focus of this diary.

The pendulum of my attention is reaching its maximum arc (regardless of the state of COVID). My usually wandering intellect is finally managing to cast off the torpor of this wholly unnecessary pandemic. I start to feel free again; free to think, and peruse, and wonder.

So, enough of COVID. I’m going to put it away and look forward to what life offers in the years left to me. What these last 18 months and more have cost is just no longer worth lamenting.

L’hermitage COVID – A COVID 19 Diary 12.16.2021

Well, it has been a “few months” since my last entry. Since then COVID has become a way of life, a curse, and a tiresome companion. In a way, nothing to write about anymore.

But writing is a mechanism to process life or at least for me it is. And it doesn’t have to be witty or even droll. But it has to move your mind along from the unfinished to the finished or the process, the natural progression, of inspiration, vision, and creation will not occur, at least for me.

So here I am. Pushing forward my tiny stream of inspiration. I look forward to a time beyond delta, omicron and any other damn thing.

What we Choose to Believe L’HERMITAGE COVIDE – A Covid 19 Diary – 8.16.2020

August and COVID is raging unabated in the US. In my estimation this is due to two facets of the contemporary American psyche: a willingness to believe what we choose in the face of contravening science and the undisciplined nature of a society jealous of its hedonistic privilege.

I can understand the hedonism. Get too much of something good and it becomes not just a staple of life, but also a building block of a perceived sense of what happiness is. Take away our bars, beaches and restaurants and it seems-to the average American-as if someone is trying to strip us of our identity. Our very right to congregate in a social setting is under attack and we will preserve our rights! Compared to what Americans died to preserve and protect over the last several hundred years, its an embarrassing counterpoint to see the right to party become a quintessential foundation stone of what it is to be an American.

Much more difficult for me to process, however, is the bald face denial of proven scientific principals. How can a person or persons stand in front of others and announce that the preponderance of proven science is wrong and that, now, 2 + 2 = 5? If the future progress of our society is to be based on a foundation of confirmation bias we will spiral toward an uncertain place amidst the other nations of the world. Is the perception that so many Americans are willing to believe what they choose as opposed to what is demonstrably true representative of a cognitive slide in the average American?

Where is normal? Where is that increasingly more illusive place where America maintains its position among leading nations? When will we stop being willingly misled by foreign powers,

What is Normal? L’HERMITAGE COVIDE – A Covid 19 Diary – 8.4.2020

“Normal is an illusion…What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly” – Morticia Addams

August and COVID is raging unabated in the US. In my estimation this is due to two facets of the contemporary American psyche: a willingness to believe what we choose in the face of contravening science and the undisciplined nature of a society jealous of its hedonistic privilege.

I can understand the hedonism. Get too much of something good and it becomes not just a staple of life, but also a building block of a perceived sense of what happiness is. Take away our bars, beaches and restaurants and it seems-to the average American-as if someone is trying to strip us of our identity. Our very right to congregate in a social setting is under attack and we will preserve our rights! Compared to what Americans died to preserve and protect over the last several hundred years, its an embarrassing counterpoint to see the right to party become a quintessential foundation stone of what it is to be an American.

Much more difficult for me to process, however, is the bald face denial of proven scientific principals. How can a person or persons stand in front of others and announce that the preponderance of proven science is wrong and that, now, 2 + 2 = 5? If the future progress of our society is to be based on a foundation of confirmation bias we will spiral toward an uncertain place amidst the other nations of the world. Is the perception that so many Americans are willing to believe what they choose as opposed to what is demonstrably true representative of a cognitive slide in the average American?

Where is normal? Where is that increasingly more illusive place where America maintains its position among leading nations? When will we stop being willingly misled by self-serving “news” outlets, foreign powers, partisan political interest groups and aspiring and existing leaders who have demonstrated both their inability to lead a nation and to separate their self interest from the good of the nation?

What if this is the next normal?

L’HERMITAGE COVIDE – A Covid 19 Diary 05.20.2020

I suspect that this will be my last COVID post; not that we are free and clear. I fully expect we will rush back to normal only to sustain a national, if not world, relapse in Autumn. However, I think I have learned to deal with the strain of the event and can do this isolation again if I have to. If it wasn’t for this other challenge I am trying to navigate at the same time, it would be easier still.

So, its with guarded optimism I look forward to the country, nay, the world getting back to a staged progress toward whatever will become the new normal. We all have things to do, both of lesser and greater import, that I wish wholeheartedly for everyone to just get on with.

Nevertheless, I believe we must walk boldly but wisely into the unknown that may yet be COVID to come. If we think as we rush head-long, perhaps we can avoid the mother-of-all relapses that would, frankly, shrivel the soul of those who are just barely hanging on even now. Whether we be introvert or extrovert, lets have our wits about us so the next bout of isolation is less brutal, both in duration and intensity.

For now, its time for me to get on with my blog; to dream, to plan and most of all, to head for that day when I can step outside and hug the sun.

L’HERMITAGE COVIDE – A Covid 19 Diary 04.25.2020

Spending week after week in isolation away from family and loved ones is, I would imagine, hard on anyone who values those connections. I can assure everyone it is hard on me and I will make a bee-line to see them once we are through the charge of this latest crisis.

Yet, the lessons I am learning about myself are not the obvious relationships to family and friends. What I am learning is that some of the most important relationships are those that are uncomplicated, nearly transactional and are the social binders of everyday life. I miss waving daily to the neighbor I know nothing about except that I see her every morning and that, surprisingly, I miss seeing her. There are many more instances such as these, your favorite bank teller, the owner of the corner grocer who has a smile for everyone and the denizens of your gym who, on the whole, you don’t know anything about but that they, like you, belong there.

This has been the most surprising conclusion for one whom, since childhood, has believed that to “need” these connections is a weakness.

I think what this actually is is a residual defense mechanism from my youth. Growing up a child of ADHD and a student of the special education program, I naturally insulated myself from those that might harm me and those who didn’t see me at all. Isolation and insulation was a way of life for the first 20 years of life. It was armor. And it was shed only ever so slowly as maturity provided new tools to navigate the social universe. But I always saw my ability to sustain any isolation as virtue.

After 4 weeks(?) of isolation and working from home I think I can throw off that nonsense…finally. Human beings are complex and their social interactions, reactions and interpretations are complicated. But that having been said, we are meant to be social, to interact, to form short and long term relationships. These interactions are key to good health, no less than exercise and nutrition.

This is the lesson I will take with me into the future.

L’HERMITAGE COVIDE – A Covid 19 Diary 04.24.2020

I have a difficult time accepting that the country is as polarized during the COVID 19 crisis as it is during any other point in our contemporary period.

In light of the universal hardship the country, if not the planet, is going through, I would think the average American would be more unified in the face of disease and death.

But what seems to be happening in the midst of potential recovery is a form of division solidifying around the basic orientation of the American liberal and conservative mind sets.

In an overly generalized example, liberals and progressives in this country seem more willing to comply with a central authority (dismissing for the time being the absurdity of Trump administration) than do their Republican counterparts.

Many of the more conservative states are reopening services today that more states feel are premature and dangerous. Predictably, the states deciding to reactivate elements of their economy are traditionally oriented toward the “state’s rights” philosophy. In a nutshell, they feel they are the best authority to judge what is best for them, not a central federal government.

In my opinion, this is a short sighted decision because what an individual state decides is in its best interest during this crisis will not necessarily be the same for its neighbor states. Further, any mistakes in gauging what is “best” will most assuredly have a negative effect on the rest of the country during this crisis.

Polarization is not the exception, its the new normal; even during a life and death crisis. Its enough to make one question his birthright.

L’HERMITAGE COVIDE – A Covid 19 Diary 04.17.2020

I am lucky. In this enforced confinement, I have shelter, food, employment and, thanks to any gods that be, none of my loved ones have succumb to Covid 19.

This is an inescapable blessing of which I remind myself everyday. And yet my grumbling and discontent at being restricted in place and movement belie my apparent gratitude.

I think self-focused Americans do not well tolerate confinement and impingement of their liberty. We seem to need daily reminders why we are depriving ourselves. Americans who are not entirely convinced that social distancing, mask wearing and hyper-cleanliness is needed, will hopefully not lose someone to drive home the point of it all. One would think the daily death toll would be enough to recommend the most stringent of precautions.

Still, its been my experience that the “wont happen to me” mentality is alive and well, not limited to the underdeveloped prefrontal cortex of teens. The experience of others-namely those who are dying in droves-will have little effect to demonstrate to the fortunate and self-concerned that this crisis is real.

I can only hope that the lives already collected will lead to some wisdom in the end, that we all need to take this crisis seriously and thereby mitigate the loss of yet more souls.