Friday, April 21, 2017

The curse of living in interesting times

I don’t remember the first time anyone said it to me or, really, if anyone ever did say it to me or if I’m just imagining it. But I’m always startled whenever I hear it said with the such sunny affirmation.

“May you live during interesting times.”

Its origins are obscure. One debunked theory is it isn’t a well-wish at all, but is actually an ancient Chinese curse. Fake news from a synthetic fortune cookie.

Sounds about right.

I’ve never once heard it said like a curse. Want to hear a curse?

“May the fleas of a 1,000 camels infest your crotch.”

Now, that’s a curse.

This “live during interesting times” always sounds like it’s meant to be a positive, 
like something you say before you down the shots of Bacardi 151.


Wishing that someone live in interesting times is like wishing expectant parents an interesting delivery room experience.

The situation is already plenty interesting.

North Korean missiles, Syrian chemical warfare, Arkansas executions, Aaron Hernandez hangs himself, MOAB, Sarah/Ted/Kid yucking it up in the Oval Office, Russian bombers cruising Alaska, WWIII scenarios being discussed by mainstream rationals.

Billy Joel says he didn’t start the fire?

Who did?

Gotta be somebody to blame.

“We Didn’t Start The Fire” in 4 minutes and 51 snappy seconds chronicles a tumultuous four-decade epoch from 1949-89.

Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnny Ray … Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, Dacron … Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician sex, JFK blown away

What else do I have to say?
We’re getting the current events equivalent between each commercial break on our 24/7 news channels.

Not that long ago, I’d enjoy spending about an hour each day reading the morning papers and then be pretty much done consuming news the rest of the day. I’m not sure what I watched when I was free to watch TV, but I can probably guarantee some of it included reruns of things like “Green Acres.”

Now I have to fight the urge to either listen to cable TV news on the car radio or watch cable news on TV. 

There’s just so much going on and I want to keep up with who from somewhere godforsaken around the world or from just around the block is getting blown to smithereens.

Maybe I’m subconsciously watching in the hopes the news will give me a head’s up for when I’m due to duck, sort of like a weather forecast but with terror warnings instead of high and low pressure systems.

I yearn to be bored.

I long to turn on CNN and hear Wolf Blitzer say, “Well, there’s no news today so for the next week or so we’re just going to point the camera at this lava light.”

I fear we’re addicting ourselves to our anxieties.

We check our phones like lab rats conditioned to get sugar cube rewards with each bell tap. We update our Facebook status and set the bar high for that week’s SNL host.

We’re frazzled.

The religious-minded among us say we need to be born again to find true peace.

I’ll settle for being bored again.

I wish I could bank some boredom and make a withdrawal whenever the world gets too crazy.

Yes, there ought to be a boredom bank. Make your deposit and watch your principle grow with the only kind of interest that interests me.

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