ON THE AVENUES: On patience, grieving, puzzles and a necessary sabbatical.


How poor are they that have not patience!
What wound did ever heal but by degrees?
Thou know’st we work by wit, and not by witchcraft;
And wit depends on dilatory time.

— Iago, in William Shakespeare’s Othello

I seldom pay attention to inspirational platitudes, seeing as the vast majority are rubbish, but if there’s any single one I can embrace, it’s this: “Be patient and trust the process.”

Recently when I confided this sentiment on social media, some readers interpreted “the process” as something tainted by the political, and an evil to which I was surrendering: Roger, the process is a nasty tyrannical burden emanating from the communist/fascist enemy, with “we the people” as pathetic victims, and so of course we must resist!

(Note the proper use of an exclamation mark.)


This is not my intent.

To me “the process” summarizes time-honored best practices as they pertain to who we are and what we do in our daily lives. It’s a Zen phenomenon, at least for me. Our lives are short, and they won’t get any longer by coming and going in a heated rush. Develop your process and trust it. Avoid sugar highs and shortcuts; rather, build for what lasts.

In turn, this leads to a second useful tactic: “Stop dumbing down; start smartening up.”

Obviously plenty of people have become rich and famous by trading in low common denominators, and to such a pervasive extent that blithering idiocy 24-7-365 is the norm in L’America.

However, because intelligence has been rendered a battered and under-valued attribute, it is precisely the one I’m delighted to espouse, both as a perennial contrarian and from the common sense perspective that best practices and lasting values cannot be accrued from the short-term whims of pure escapist dipshittedness.

There is one more: “Don’t just do something — stand there.”

Yes, it is undeniable that occasions regularly arise when fast, direct action is needed. However when short attention spans borne of spasmodic, kaleidoscopic knee-jerking become institutionalized, the steady progress of the long haul falls victim to ephemeral expedients, which usually aren’t necessary and too often are plainly harmful.

There’s a kicker to all this, of course. One must be in a position to have sufficient opportunities for self-improvement, which the hypocritical American robber baron capitalist system regularly denies significant portions of the populace. Without equality of opportunity, my musings are null and void, and I know it.

What’s more, even in the best possible scenario, the individual must possess the self-confidence to excel, which usually requires the steady reinforcement of patience and fortitude if the goal is to ensure lasting achievement.

Speaking only for myself, as a white male afforded every conceivable opportunity, self-confidence still can be sorely lacking. What I do possess of it was gained over a long period of time by incremental steps, always seeking to smarten up, generally refusing to dumb down, playing those contrarian percentages, carving out niches, developing a better work ethic, and embracing the art of the obtuse.

But hey — whatever works for you. I’m just the village iconoclast. In fact, the missus says my best and worst qualities are exactly the same: patience, stubbornness and an enduring refusal to tolerate fools.

There is nowhere to hide when your wife is a social worker, and surely her analysis is correct.

All this being said, my 2020 is going to be about important decisions; not the overcooked folderol of the presidential election, but whether I’m willing to concede defeat here in Nawbany and admit I’m licked — and no, this has nothing whatever to do with politics.

Contrary to legend, which of course I’ve written and cultivated myself, it actually is possible for me on widely scattered occasions to acknowledge mistakes, cut bait and shift supply lines ever so cautiously, although only after I’ve played every last card and exhausted all avenues of potential redress.

Here’s the problem: What do you do when nothing can be done?

That’s the question, and if I had an easy answer, I’d inform you and start pursuing it. I’m disappointed and frustrated, and it’s going to take a clear and orderly process to deal with these emotions.

Allow me to vigorously stress that anger or bitterness isn’t any part of it, just an ongoing inability to compel the pieces of various puzzles to fit into place. I can see the pieces, and fathom the broad contours, but I can’t get them together. Can these puzzles ever be completed to my satisfaction? That’s another good question without a glib response.

If I’m to be completely honest, my mood during the past two weeks already has provided ample clues to the source of the friction, because my subconscious evidently decided unilaterally that year’s end in 2019 was the ideal time for me to indulge in some serious grieving on the general theme of endings — not in the sense of deaths, illnesses, breakups or any other real-world crises, but the “just learn to deal with it” decommissioning of ideas, expectations, hopes and dreams resting inside my own damn head.

These modalities likely won’t come to pass. They have proven obsolete or impossible, and as such must be contextualized, filed away and put to rest. If I’m to finish grieving, this is exactly what must happen. Verily, it will be tough to accept realities I’ve fought so long and hard to change, but largely failed to wrestle to the ground.

Perhaps I’m making progress with acceptance, because as 2020 dawns, there is considerable optimism.

In an unrelated note …

For a very long time I’ve been threatening to alter my terms of engagement and involvement with local affairs. Admittedly, these previous resolutions have been miserable failures. As with the fictional mobster Michael Corleone, just when I think I’m out, they pull me back in.

More accurately, I willfully pull myself back in, but not this time.

After 15 years, it’s time for a real sabbatical, at least six months to start and then with various options for renewal. True, I’ll never cease commenting entirely about the Chronicles of New Gahania, primarily because I’m far too opinionated to achieve total abstinence — and besides, you’re entitled to my opinion.

However, taking into consideration the incredible diversity of the world beyond the city limits of this small burg, there are other ways to use creative time at my disposal than continue out-performing the News and Tribune on a pro bono basis.

Let’s be blunt. As currently constituted the newspaper isn’t going to improve, not ever. New Albany’s incumbent ruling class luminaries and prevailing social elites aren’t going to become more open and inclusive, either. The newspaper’s ownership would have to change, the politicians be voted out, and the self-anointed beautiful people compelled to ingest a few doses of long overdue humility.

It’s never completely hopeless, but the immediate future looks challenging, and as I’ve noted oft times before, a new generation must step forward and relegate the likes of me to smaller, supporting, character-driven roles.

In fact they are. As I write, they’re stepping up. Accordingly I’m eager to do what I can to help them, and hope yet to someday giddily toast their success in achieving what I could not.

In the meantime, for me 2020 will be dedicated to scraping barnacles from the hull in preparation for my next (and in all actuarial likelihood, final) quarter-century on Planet Earth. This means catching up on long-deferred projects, taming several paperwork jungles, and earning a few dollars more with my writing.

Accordingly, the NA Confidential blog is being scaled back. Writing for pay as I’m doing now takes time, and the blogging quota will fall to two posts per day, down from four in 2017. If a news item takes more than 20 minutes to write and format, it won’t be posted. I’ll be riffing off the rising generation of dissidents, and doing longer-form commentary less often. I no longer have 25 hours a week to devote to research.

I won’t be attending many meetings apart from the first city council soiree in January. I need to witness those 1st and 5th district council seats, with fresh new faces seated in them, in order to revive my waning interest in residing here.

Those of us working and living downtown have a year to prepare for the existential micro-crisis of a lifetime, namely Sherman Minton bridge repairs. Pardon the scatology, but we’ll have to get our shit together — and I’m not convinced we’ll manage.

However as I move into the final reel, it is absolutely clear to me that those persons best placed to make it through the coming madness will be ones who exercise patience, trust their processes, reject dumbing down, embrace smartening up, and avoid doing something rash, all because they have the foresight to stand there and think about it before pushing any buttons.

Good luck to you all, and let me know if you need anything. I’ll happily consult for a beer or two, and this column isn’t going anywhere. You’re going to rock this. See you in July.

Recent columns:

December 26: ON THE AVENUES: Four more years? Heaven help us all, but there are five reasons to be optimistic.

December 21: ON THE AVENUES HOLIDAY SPECIAL: Truth, lies, music, and a trick of the Christmas tale (2019 Remix).

December 19: ON THE AVENUES: These parents oppose their children’s exposure to the PURE Initiative as part of the NA-FC Schools curriculum. Here’s why.

December 12: ON THE AVENUES: He who fights and runs away will live to fight another day.