It is 2021, I am in New Mexico, this is a Jasper Johns map, and today is Saturday.

Twenty twenty-one is almost done and dusted—an odd expression that I like, and was sure I knew its meaning. Turns out I was only partly right; it does mean something finished, but google tells me “The expression is mostly used in British English in informal contexts to mean to successfully complete something. Hmmm? How would one be certain 2021 was completed successfully at any level? Well, on a personal level, being alive at the end of it might be a sign. Also, having a still-healthy family, friendship, work, a home, and lots of good books would be considered making it through the year successfully. Elon and Jeff and the boys made a few billion, or was that trillion, bucks in 2021, so hopefully they consider that successful enough for now.

However, moving beyond me and my trillionaire friends, how’s the world as this more-terrifying-than-2020 year winds down? In 2020 we mostly worried about the virus, but at least we had an election that allowed us to end on an uppish note. This year. There. Is. No. Good. News.

But keep reading anyway. There’s a happy ending with pictures.

That was the cheerful map of my country above. This is Johns’ version of the mood of the country right now.

As you know, I like words a lot. This morning, in preparation for post #1 of a year-end blogging flurry, I looked up despondence (spell of low spirits), angst (a feeling of deep anxiety or dread, typically an unfocused one about the human condition or the state of the world in general), dystopian (relating to or denoting an imagined state or society where there is great suffering or injustice), just to be sure I used them correctly as I share my year-end take on the state-of-the-world—not to be mentioned again until the next coup (attempt?).

I am despondent anytime I allow my thoughts to roam about outside of my immediate world, and I awake almost every morning in a state of mid-level angst. Even though my immediate circumstances include me among the dwindling number of the world’s fortunate, the fact that the future is increasingly dystopian definitely puts a damper on feelings like hopefulness, joy, peace, and safety. Last sentence about this: You may have noticed there was an attempted coup in the U.S. a year ago, and the desire for the real thing seems to be solidifying; in fact, the entire world seems swept up in a orgy of greed, racism, and violence with enough “leaders” of the dictator ilk to encourage it in too many places; the global 1% and the politicians they’ve bought are absolutely incapable of doing anything meaningful about the environment—as we continue killing the earth for pleasure and profit; and, last, but not least, have you noticed the masses of humanity on the move, seeking refuge from the death and destruction of tyrants, drugs, climate change, starvation? I think dystopian’s the right word, don’t you?

Meanwhile life goes on…and right here, right now, in my world, it’s good.

Here we are at the North Fourth Art Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico where life feels worthwhile, normal, and busy enough. We have Cardboard Playhouse in the theater so the building’s lively and noisy with excited young performers. One studio is occupied by a Quarantine Theater working meeting, and another classroom has a casual grouping of artists doing their own Saturday afternoon art thing. It’s nice. Makes me a little ashamed of my almost constant sadness. And no, I’m not clinically depressed, but it’s a depressing world right now, so just how joyful should I be! But, you know, it’s not with me always. Mostly I stay busy, read, have a couple of murder or British baking series at the ready for moments of pleasant non-pondering.

Wore my China shirt to work today to remind myself I went to far places and intend to do so again. My old body and broken world be damned. Maybe.

2 Comments on “WHERE TO BEGIN?

  1. The world is in quite a mess…or so it would seem. After all, the internet tells us all day long about the awful things happening. I think they happened just as often before internet, but the news of it travel more slowly then. Bad news always travels fast…the good, not so quickly. We get so caught up in the events we can not change…we should try to get caught up in the things that we can. North 4th seems to be about change for the better…great!

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