The Midnight Hunter Musings, ruminations and wild rants about life from the Midnight Hunter.

April 26, 2010


Filed under: Uncategorized — me @ 12:08 pm

Waiting is something I do impatiently. Really impatiently! Ever since my colonoscopy about a week ago I’ve been waiting for my body to recover. Well, OK, I’ve also been prodding and cajoling and testing my body to see if it’s recovered yet. Problem is, all the prodding, cajoling and testing just seems to make my body less recovered and me more impatient. All of which has been a recipe for the “disaster” of the past couple of days, when I’ve been feeling decades older than I should and rather more frustrated and depressed than impatient.

So this morning I decided to break the vicious cycle and stay home and do nothing. The problem is, I don’t do “nothing” very well, especially when I’m at home surrounded by a billion things that need cleaned, fixed, dusted, tidied, or paid attention too. By nature I’m a doer, I just don’t manage well doing nothing. But what I need to remember is that healing and resting are not the same a doing “nothing”. They are, in fact, important things that need doing. Just ones that I don’t do particularly well. Case in point, even while I kept telling myself I should do nothing today, I still dusted those bookshelves in the kitchen that had gotten totally gross from neglect.

But herein lies the problem. I’ve got a body that, due to chronic illness and various special needs (like regular cancer screening), and that needs to be rested and healed far more than I seem to be mentally ready to accept. Thus that challenge for me is to find ways to keep my brain satisfied with a modicum of activity while giving my body time off here and there to heal and recover. Writing, such as I’m doing now is one outlet, but not a perfect one because it still takes a certain amount of physical energy (along with bad posture since I haven’t figured out a way to do this lying down). Watching movies or bad TV are other ways, but I usually lose interest pretty quickly.

One book I’ve been reading, The Pain Survival Guide, talks a lot about pacing. It stresses the importance of balancing work and rest, of breaking activities into short segments interspersed with rest and so forth. Sometimes I get it. Sometimes I don’t, as in last Saturday, the first day I felt really energetic since my procedure, so I did as much as I could, probably dooming me to a day of exhaustion and pain on Sunday. (The sudden change in the weather probably didn’t help much either on Sunday.)

Coping with chronic illness (psoriatic arthritis and migraines in my case) result in a constant struggle between wants and needs. I want to do so much, I need to rest more. I want my pain, exhaustion and fatigue to go away. I need to be patient. I want to control the circumstances of my disease. I need to let go. Falling into bad habits, ruts, patterns of behavior that exacerbate the struggle is easy to do. Finding ways out much harder. But I’m still trying.



April 21, 2010

Freedom is Like That

Filed under: Uncategorized — me @ 8:45 pm

Recovering from my colonoscopy yesterday I watched the movie Latter Days, which was recommended to me by my friend Brian. I was pleasantly surprised. I had expected a movie much more shallow than what this film turned out to be. It is basically a gay romantic comedy featuring an LA party boy and a Mormon missionary. It was well done, not nearly as one-dimensional as I expected after reading the blurb on Netflix.

Soon after the movie, I began thinking about the Mormon missionary custom and the Amish Rumspringa, which pastor Jeff Edwards wrote about in his play, The Great Confirmation Play. The Mormons have this tradition of sending young men, between the ages of 19 and 25 to places far away from home, often overseas, to go door to door proselytizing. The Mormon missionaries spend this entire time in pairs with another member of the faith, always under the watchful eye of their “missionary companion”. They are prohibited from dating or having any relations with women. After two years of full-time missionary work, the young men return home and marry, usually within the faith, and settle down. The Rumspringa is a custom in some Amish communities where young men, between 16 and 18 years old, are encouraged or allowed to go out into the “English” community and experience a bit of life outside the strict restrictions of their religious order. Some use this opportunity to immerse themselves in drugs, alcohol and sex, but the vast majority return at the end of this period to be baptized into the faith of their birth and marry within the community. It’s an interesting juxtaposition.

Both of these faiths spring from the American utopian tradition. American history and the American landscape are covered with examples of utopian communities and sects, among them the Shaker Communities of New England, New Harmony in Indiana, the Chautauqua Movement and the hundreds of hippies communes that sprung up in the 1960s. Many of these communities engaged in communal living, alternate familial and sexual norms such as polygamy, polyandry or free love, abolishment of private property or other extreme forms of socialism. Most also collapsed through a combination of outside pressure and internal dissension, some such as the Branch Davidians (Waco), The People’s Temple (Jonestown) and The MOVE Organization (Philadelphia) did so quite spectacularly. But the Amish (founded 1693) and the Mormons (founded 1830) have outlasted many utopian sects, but have retained many of their utopian characteristics, including a tendency to remain separate from the wider society, and both practice a form of shunning, where members who stray from the norms dictated by their religion are cut off from the community and their families.

In the movie Latter Days, the young Mormon missionary experiences this fate, but in the process finds a new “family” who sees him as a whole, healthy gay man. His biological family simply disappears from the picture, literally and figuratively. It reminds me of a visit my friend Bill and I made to the Raptor Rehabilitation Center in Sitka, Alaska. In the center we had the opportunity to see Bald Eagles and a Snowy Owl and to hear how the center works with injured birds to heal them and return them to the wild. The guide at the center explained how the birds, when set free, show no appreciation for all the hard work that goes into their care and rehabilitation. They simply fly away. Later that day we happened on a team at a local college campus preparing an eagle for release. The bird was chased back and forth across a field while held on a leash that was secured to a wire that ran a hundred yards or so along the ground. The bird had been doing this for several weeks and was now ready to be released. When the leash was finally removed and the bird chased once again across the field it instinctively started to come back to earth, but much beyond the length of the leash it had been attached to. It then began to test to see how much “run” it had.  Soon it realized there was no leash it wheeled around and soared back across the field. I watched as the immense bird shrank to a tiny black dot and disappeared into the horizon.



April 5, 2010

Cutting Down the Last Tree on the Island

Filed under: Uncategorized — me @ 9:13 pm

I’ve had a few different ideas for a post running through my head for a while now, so let’s see if I can pull them together into something coherent. No promises, I’m afraid.

First, about a week ago I attended a lovely concert by the New Jersey Symphony.  At least I thought it was lovely, Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky, two composers from my favorite musical tradition. Unfortunately, the concert was marred by some very inconsiderate behavior on the part of my fellow concert goers. The Rachmaninov Piano Concerto number 3 went fine and the audience seemed to love it. But after intermission, when the Tchaikovsky Symphony number 4 began, the misbehavior started. First, the Tchaikovsky starts out with a very loud fanfare, then suddenly stops and goes silent for a few seconds. During this period of “silence” I could hear a woman several rows behind me yacking away.  Then as the piece progressed one person got up and left the theater.  A few minutes later another couple got up and walked out.  This continued pretty much every few minutes throughout the remainder of the concert.

Now the NJSO may not exactly be the New York Philharmonic or the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, but neither are they the Fergus County High School band. They are a professional orchestra with a good reputation and they were performing quite well. The Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4 is also not some avant garde piece that compels blue-haired classical-music lovers to shriek and reach for their earplugs. I can only assume that those who chose to leave the concert did so because they were concerned about missing their reservations at Sebastian’s Steak House or had planes to catch or some such thing. All in all, I found their behavior rude, inconsiderate to not only the orchestra, but their fellow patrons as well.

And that brings me to my second thread. I’ve been reading the book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond. I’m only part way into the book, and will probably comment on it further in future blog posts. But I was taken by a series of passages in the first part of the book. Mr. Diamond speaks at length about Montana, his adopted part-time home state, listing the various economic and ecological challenges facing the state and its inhabitants.  Then he quotes at length stories by four of his “neighbors”, describing their own thoughts and feelings about these challenges. What struck me was the way all four neighbors statements were entirely self centered. It was not about the community, the county, my neighbors and me, their statements were all completely about themselves and how the community was or wasn’t providing for what they needed. The most other directed of all the statements was from a dairy farmer who managed to include his family in the picture, the rest were completely self absorbed.

I haven’t read far enough into Diamond’s book to see if such self absorption is one of the traits he attributes to failing societies, but I would tend to believe it is. As I’ve written before, I see the failure of United States citizens to see even other citizens as “us” as one of the reasons New Orleans suffered so terribly after Katrina. But when I see a significant number of patrons of the symphony, people who presumably live nearby and share some of the values, treating the orchestra and their “fellow patrons” with such disrespect, I find it easy to imagine them as Easter Island natives, chopping down the last tree on the island because it suited their needs at the time, paying no mind to the devastation it would bring to not only their fellow islanders, but eventually to themselves as well.

What makes people treat others with such disrespect? I suppose if I knew the answer to that I could be rich or famous or powerful, or all three. I do know that when I was in Haiti, the thing that impressed me most was the way people were so appreciative of everything that was given to them or done for them. And I know that some places I’ve visited in Canada, Japan and Europe I have not seen the degree of self-absorption and disregard for others that I’ve experienced here. I’ve been profoundly embarrassed by the behavior of American service men and women in Japan that I’ve witnessed. At times I’ve been tempted to believe that wealth and comfort breed contempt, but I doubt that it is as simple as that. Something in the American experience makes us exceptionally prone to this behavior.  I suspect it is the same thing that makes most Americans severely allergic to “socialism” in any form.  And I suspect it will eventually be the country’s undoing.

Until the revolution, yours,


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