Hello and good morning to everyone reading this, even if you’re reading it in the afternoon, or the evening, or at night, or if you’re fundamentally not a morning person and so you never see mornings as “good” no matter what anyone says. Don’t feel bad about that, if it is the case for you. Even Gandalf expressed his skepticism about the greeting “Good morning,” as we see almost at the very beginning of The Hobbit.
Most greetings are bizarre things, or at least many of them are. I particularly dislike greetings that involve questions, because I have lost my former hard-earned skill, such as it was, at treating them as the vacuous, ritualistic bird-calls that they are.
If, on a Monday morning, someone asks, “How was your weekend?” I can’t simply reply with a ritual, “It was great,” and then ask about theirs, whether I care about their weekend or not. I actually have to stop and think about the question*. Often, I’m sorry to say, I can only shrug and quote Bart Simpson, saying, “Meh.” This is me trying to avoid being too negative. But, of course, humans—or at least Americans—don’t want to hear that sort of thing. I don’t quite know why.
Similarly, some people will ask the rather grammatically suspect question, “How are you doing?” usually with some dropped consonants or strange contractions. My first instinct, which I almost always resist, is to respond with, “How am I doing what?” Instead, I tend just to go for the puzzled look followed by a shrug and, again, “Meh.”
The foreshortened version of the earlier question is “How are you?” It is if anything more bizarre. It sounds like the beginning of a deep, philosophical discussion, related perhaps to the old “Why is there something rather than nothing?” How am I? Does that mean “How is it that I exist?” which seems to be what it means if you take it at face value?
It’s an interesting thing—to me, at least—to think about the same question but changing “How” to various other words such as who, what, where, and when. The first three make straightforward sense, the last one is an intriguing question calling to my mind the notion that, in GR, there is no time that passes, merely an extra dimension to reality.
They are all better questions and make more sense than the “how” one. Then, of course, we could take our cue from the improvised, hilarious line given by Drax in Avengers: Infinity War, and ask, “Why are you?”
Okay, let’s move on to other matters besides my steadily atrophying skill at dealing with small talk in anything but a literal (and annoyed) way.
Today is the final valid day for my current bus pass. These passes are really quite good if you ride the bus more than a few times a week in Broward County. Unlike the Tri Rail, which charges full price for each calendar month—even if you buy the pass in the last week of that month—the bus passes start ticking (so to speak) only when you first use them, and they expire a minute before midnight thirty-one days later. That’s it. Straightforward. So if you buy a bus pass and “sit on it” for months, you still have 31 days of use once you first use it.
I like it. It’s a good system.
That being said, I think that after this evening, when I use this pass for the last available time, I’m not going get a new one. Instead, if I can summon the courage, I’m simply going to walk to and from the train station every day. That’s slightly under five miles in each direction. If I can pull that off, counting the walk from and to the station up at work, I’ll be walking eleven or twelve miles a day.
I really ought to be able to do that. Endurance is not an issue. I just have problems with still-healing blisters. But I can’t coddle myself with respect to those. My blisters are all that’s holding me back, and they are annoying, but I have to push through to the other side of that barrier, because I have a task before me that I want to accomplish.
It won’t be a particularly useful task for anyone but me, and there will no doubt be those who will think it’s not good for me either, but that isn’t really my concern. I want to try. As I always say, I don’t want to inconvenience people I care about, so I’m thinking of something that hopefully will minimize “me-related” problems for them, though adjustments will likely need to be made at some level.
At least the number of people close to me personally and physically is small—it’s zero if you’re looking at the combination of the two attributes. Also, at least my idea shouldn’t be messy or locally problematic. That’s one advantage, at least. Or is it two?
I feel that I have to do something though. I don’t think I can endure much longer with nothing meaningful in my life in any serious way. My foundations (metaphorically speaking) are crumbling; you can see the cracks widening if you know where to look, and when they give—I keep trying not to let it give as long as I can—the failure will probably be abrupt and messy and will cause trouble for the neighbors, so to speak. I’d really like to minimize that if I can. I cause other people enough unpleasantness just by existing; I’d rather not make it worse.
Of course, I’d rather do good for other people, especially the ones I care about. I’d rather try to relieve suffering and cause joy, or at least to entertain. I like to make people smile if I can, but I’m not good at it, and I don’t smile very well myself anymore.
I used to practice smiling in the mirror all the time, to try to get it right, but I’ve kind of stopped bothering with that anymore. My smiles are usually façades and charades, at least in recent years.
Anyway, my bus will be here soon. I’ll try to keep you all posted, and I’ll probably write something tomorrow again, whether you like it or not. Have a good day, if you can, but you don’t have to have a good morning if you don’t feel like it, no matter what I said at the beginning of the post.
*Lately I’ve considered simply replying, “It was about sixty hours long”, but I always forget to do that when the time comes.