Embracing the Comfort of Familiarity

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Here in Arizona, the birds seem to ignore the usual pattern of laying and hatching their young in the spring. While it is still the busiest of seasons for nesting, I recently noticed several fledglings preparing to leave the nest here in the “dry” heat of summer.

Or should I say, being encouraged, persuaded, and bribed to go? The fledglings themselves were a recalcitrant bunch.

What first drew my attention was a bit of an odd-looking sparrow. Hopping about on several branches, it first appeared to be shaped like a young duckling. Being in the middle of the desert, miles from any meaningful lake, river, or even a significant puddle, this, of course, drew my eye and surprised me.

Once it hopped into a more well illuminated area, I could see it was not a duckling but a young, Brown-crested flycatcher. He, or she, was holding fast the familiar area of the nest.

Nearby, two adults were trying to lure the youngster away with food. She was having none of it. Screeching for them to deliver the food as it had been done all her life.

She was comfortable with the familiar.

As are we all.

Despite the reality of life being a series of changes, of comings and goings, of beginnings and endings, we cling to that which is familiar and resist change.

As infants, we crave the embrace of our parents, taking solace in the comfort it brings. Then, there comes the time when our parents pick us up for the last time. This brings a mixed feeling of newfound independence and a bit of a sense of loss for what we thought would last forever.

All our lives we grow comfortable with our daily lives only to have some unknown element arrive that changes everything. Like the fledgling bird, we are pushed and prodded to leave the nest.

Our fear of the unknown competing against the excitement of new experiences.

Psychiatrist R. D Laing, who delved into existential philosophy, postulated there are three common fears shared by most humans,

Death, new people, and being alone with your thoughts.

Each of these are examples of new things happening.

Meeting new people can pose a challenge. Over time, experience teaches us that first impressions are as often wrong as they are right, thus the reticence of bringing new people into the fold. Yet, without meeting someone new, we’d never have friends and lovers, shared experiences, or memories, and that would be a greater loss.

Being alone with one’s thoughts I found particularly intriguing. As a writer, I spend a great deal of time living inside my head thinking about things to write. And it is often the experiences of new things or people that plant the seed for an idea or story.

Death, along with birth, the only two experiences shared by every human, is the most difficult to accept and is the ultimate change. No one knows with any certainty what lies after the experience. There are hopes, suppositions, and speculations, but little else.

I find it odd how something we cannot avoid no matter how hard we try causes so much anxiety in most people. All the time one spends worrying about, preparing for, or praying to augment what happens after you die is time wasted when you could devote it to living.

As I watched that young bird’s tentative, but hesitant, first “steps” into a life away from the nest, I couldn’t help but wonder if hanging on to things that comfort us is the cushion absorbing the shock of new things. Its grip is not so powerful as to prevent us from living life and the experiences that come with it.

We are the better for it.

JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.


Ennui will Destroy America

I checked the calendar today, twice, to make sure it really was the year 2020. Turns out, it is. No matter how hard that is to believe.

This is the most modern age in America so far. But despite all our technology, all our vast capabilities, all these attempts at either recovering or finding American greatness, we still cannot run an election. We fail at the most fundamental aspect of self-government; wherein the people determine the course of government.

This should happen without lengthy delays in counting votes, serious doubts over integrity, or an embarrassing level of non-participation.

We have little faith in our fellow Americans—seeing them all (or at least the ones who hold different beliefs or political philosophies) as willing to commit voter fraud—and we have no faith in our government. A government installed by VOTERS. We don’t trust the system and we see little benefit in making the effort to vote.

We are trapped between an irresistible force and an immovable object. Our own intransigence and inertia will be our demise.

A country that once challenged the greatest military power in the world on the sheer courage of our citizen-soldiers runs elections like a kindergarten class in North Korea.

A country that once put a man on the moon cannot guarantee every citizen the opportunity to vote and instill in them the obligation to exercise that right as a sacred duty.

We should be a country certain that the outcome of elections represents the will of the people. All the people.

But, alas, as the latest debacle out of Kentucky demonstrates, we may be a world leader in some things, yet we are barely competent in the most critical—supporting and fostering our Democracy.

Kentucky, in a preview of the coming national elections, reduced polling locations. One location covered almost 800,000 voters. This was ostensibly to manage exposure to COVID-19. It defies logic.  Wouldn’t MORE sites reduce numbers and the risk of exposure?  They also either failed to anticipate or exhibited just plain ‘ole stupidity in their plan for dealing with mail-in ballots.

I know the pressures on poll workers is enormous. They have to spend an entire DAY at the polls. Would it be too much to ask if we made them work, for the sake of argument, an entire week to increase opportunities for voting?  These elections only happen every two years. I would think one week of work and two years off, even if they have to add two extra days to prepare, isn’t an unreasonable request.

Perhaps working at polling sites should be akin to jury duty. Everybody required to participate. Now I know some of you are rolling your eyes. Jury duty! How awful a comparison. But jury duty, no matter how inconvenient, is the foundation of the justice system. As is staffing election operations to allow all to vote.

Perhaps we should demand that the position of Secretary of State be more than just a launch pad for the politically ambitious. As Draconian as this may sound, we should insist they actually deal with making voting accessible for all.

Of all the ills facing this country, sometimes we need to triage the most critical and put aside the others.  And I can think of nothing more important than making sure every eligible American votes. It is something we should instill as part of our education system. Not only do you have the Right to Vote, but you have a civic obligation to do so.

A truly representative government, populated with responsible individuals elected by open voter participation, is the best way to address all the other issues facing America.

Here’s another incentive for those of you who distrust government, incumbents fear large voter turnout. They understand if circumstances can drive the normally oblivious to the polls, change is in the air.

If you are serious about Making America Great Again, then vote. And demand those who manage our elections work to support that goal.

If you don’t think it matters, you have only to look at what happened in 2016. The time for Americans to reclaim our destiny, self-respect, and standing as a beacon of Democracy is upon us.


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