A Push from the Thin

by Don Hall

"We work hard, so damn hard, to make our lives thin and selfish.  Press them down to bills and the consuming need.  To do otherwise is to leave us open and exposed to the awe, that deep blue of what we know could be and what we know is.  Stand on the edge of a cliff or a building’s tucked and pointed ledge.  One side bears comfort, but it is the maw that beckons.  We must every day push from the thin.  Stand bare to wonder, to fear and failure, to the thrill of a fall that catches your breath and will not end.  We are small, but we should not make our lives, our world, small to fit us." -- Bo Blackburn

 The State of The Union of the Average American is that we embrace the thin.  We seek out and champion the mediocre.  Our politicians are far from our best and brightest, light years from the people we would follow should they decide to lead.  We stagnate in dead end jobs for shit wages and mollify ourselves by either self medicating to the extreme, watching movies about Other People breaking free of their dead end jobs, or both.  Mostly both.

We cheer the actions of well meaning vigilantes on tiny screens while turning a blind eye to the very things that those vigilantes would address.  We consume too much and then refuse to contribute to the protection of the very system that grants us the cornucopia.  We judge each other so harshly, marginalizing the Other with such vehemence, the cataracts on our eyes obfuscating our own hypocrisies and double standards.  If there is a God, (S)He must think us insane.

A man who thinks that it is his birthright to dominate and take what he wants.  A woman who believes that she has to act like that man in order to carve her place in the granite of existence.  The child who has never been told no.  An entire generation of Americans soaked in the blood of war.  An entire generation of citizens told they are only worthy of consideration if they generate a perfect credit score.  An allegiance of costumed thugs, given guns and tasers and choke holds and authority, who feel it is their right to beat and lecture and kill anyone who questions their commands.

We worship at the altars of Violence, Greed and Self Interest.  We eat a 4,000 calorie fat-drenched fried thing, washing it down with a 2,000 calorie sugar-laden fizzy drink (or a draft of mind altering fermentation) while watching the wealthy domestic abusers chase each other for a ball and wonder why our souls are in jeopardy.  We vote for men and women who demonize those who do not resemble who we see in the cracked mirror-windows of vacated storefronts and look up to the sky and ask why will no one help me?  We believe the lies and delude ourselves into accepting the frothy poison presented as Religious Freedom/Religious Dominance and are mystified that those we cast(e) out respond in rage.

We rejoice in the thin as if that is the best we can do/have/give.

Photographs of beautiful plates of food and chocolate-y desserts (with a filter that makes them look vibrant beyond reality) juxtaposed with black and white photographs of a man huddled on the sidewalk outside a store that is filled with food begging for coins in order to eat.  A video of young, fresh-faced cadets proudly graduating into law enforcement played simultaneously with a video of a policeman choking a black man for selling cigarettes.  A John Legend song about enduring love on the radio in a car passing on the street next to another car blaring a tune espousing rape and objectification.  An app on a tiny computer with more power than the computers that got us to the moon designed to swipe through potential partners like disposable plastic lighters.

Dylan encouraged us (through his fog and haze of liquor) to 'Rage, rage against the dying of the light" and we interpret the light as our corporeal mortality.  Perhaps the light is the ideals of humanity that make us bigger than our days.  Perhaps the light is a compilation of the gestures that make our lives bricks of a cathedral we're all building, one life at a time, a legacy of civilization that transcends our individual flickers that points to a beacon for all who come after to follow.

A patch of grass pushing up through the decaying concrete.
A shaft of sunlight washing over the rubble of a bombed school.
A child laughing with a stranger with no fear.
Two hands entwined by two people in love with no regard to gender or race.
Someone telling a story about hardship overcome and someone listening who feels connection.
A woman rallying her community to provide assistance to those in need.

A refusal to let the thin overtake the opulence and majesty of potential.