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Category: Humans

COVID Kitty
I want to make clear that I never promised that I wouldn’t blog about my cat. Even after this essay is released into the wild, I will not vow that I’ll never do another. That said, I know that cat-blogging is sometimes seen as a sad reflection on one’s seriousness as a social commentator.

I have decided to risk the judgment of the ages. We have a new kitten, and he is adorable. There was no temptation to name him Covid, though that might have been appropriate. We have since learned that COVID kitties are a thing, along with corona pups and other pandemic pets. If you were very near to a decision about getting a pet, this shutdown, shelter-in-place, socially distant world we now live in has probably nudged you (as it did us) to finally make the commitment.

We are currently in the prime pet enjoyment phase of our relationship. As with most animals, the earliest stage of life is the cutest. Besides the appeal of big-eyed, vulnerable smallness, there are also the wild scamperings, the goofy acrobatics, and the sudden bursts of exuberance. Just the thing for bored, slightly morose humans who aren’t going anyplace anytime soon.

Perhaps most important, though, is the addition of another spirit to the household. Even though he doesn’t enjoy quite the same standing as the other beings around here, he does offer a separate presence and a distinct point of view. He is, moreover, a life form we can touch and interact with in what used to be the most ordinary ways. Such opportunities are rare enough these days of separation from friends and family,

I will say, then, that I am an advocate of the Covid Kitty and his ilk. He knows nothing of the virus, or of the convulsions of our economy, or of the damage inflicted on our society by an awful leader. He is just a normal cat whose life is not touched by any of that. Perhaps that is his greatest asset as a housemate. In this time of turmoil and uncertainty, he is the normal one. It is good to know that such a state still exists in this world. It is good to witness it every day and to watch it grow and thrive. Someday, we hope to join him there.
A Place for Everything
And everything in its place. That’s the idea, anyway. It’s a handy little rule if you can manage the discipline and presence of mind to follow it. Sure, it can be a nuisance to return the thing to its proper place, especially when you’re right in the middle of a project and making good headway. But we know that the rule will save time in the long run — time that we might have to spend looking for the thing the next time we need it.

In a perfect world, that’s how it works. But there are no such worlds. Mistakes will be made. So, sometimes, despite our solemn vow to never do it again, we neglect to put the thing in its place when we’re done with it.

There are no good excuses for such a failure, only lame ones. For instance, I have used “I’ll just put it down for a second. I’ll remember where it is, and then I’ll put it back.” While this excuse may amount to a statement of fact, it’s no better than “I spaced out on it, man,” or plain old “I forgot.” Even if accompanied by an apology, such explanations are not worth the hot air they are spoken with. Moreover, the only person who really deserves an apology here is excuse-maker himself. I, for one, am not interested in an apology from myself.

I try to avoid such gambits as “You distracted me,” or “It’s your fault.” That brand of blame shifting is an unseemly tack under any circumstances, but when it’s your motto that’s been violated, it’s your responsibility. All yours. Any failure (even if others collaborated in your dereliction) is your failure. That is because this rule is more than a mere catchphrase — or even an aphorism. A place for everything, and everything in its place is a full-on maxim. The thing is either in its place, or it isn’t. Do or do not, as Yoda says, there is no try.

If it were simply a saying, perhaps the consequences of failure would be less onerous. It is the sad truth, however, that besides not being able to find the thing that you (perhaps desperately) need, you also have to endure the self-recriminations for not adequately securing the thing.

So it is with my daypack. I am tempted to say that I have never misplaced it before, but now I cannot say that because it is no longer true. Nor am I permitted to say that I have looked everywhere. Clearly, I have not.

My almost perfect record is useless to me now. If it were still perfect, I’d have my daypack and be busy putting it to good use. Instead. I must begin the laborious investigation into its whereabouts. As the hunt unfolds, I am confronted at every turn by the fact that I have no one to blame but myself. Every pathetic mental re-enactment, every wild hypothetical scenario, every fruitless follow-up is a confirmation of my failure. That is the price, moreover, of having any maxims at all. So be it.

“It’s got to be around here someplace,” I try telling myself. “It’ll turn up.” These, I know, are an attempt to establish a false narrative: that everything is okay, or will be soon enough. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Somehow, I have violated my maxim. The world will not be right again until the thing is once again in its place.

I must find it or I am lost. Until then, there is no try, only do or do not.
Day
Wednesday
No wait
I mean Thursday
Monday? Sunday?
Maybe Saturday?
Doesn’t really
Matter day

Mater dei!
Mayday!
Cinco de
Holiday
Doris Day
Any day
All day!

Now every day
Is everyday
No other day
But today
Even payday
Went away
Day!
The Jury Is Still Out
There is no doubt that humans have an appetite for cruelty and willful ignorance. It’s never surprising to see, but it’s always disappointing.

For the past three years, that dark aspect of our humanity has been in ascendance. That is something new to my experience. I’m afraid that it is threatening the very existence of our free society. That fear is new for me too. I’m beginning to worry whether humanity might just be a failed experiment in evolution. When I see so many of my fellow humans casting their lot with someone so obviously devoid of simple humanity, it forces me to question the most basic assumptions of my worldview.

And then came last week and the murder of George Floyd. We have often witnessed the lethal, systemic racism that pervades our white-dominant society. That awful inhumanity has persisted for 400 years and for eons before that in our treatment of the other, whoever that might be. It is a reflection of the same darkness we now find at the center of our governance. This time, however, the act was so clear, so unambiguous, that it seems we all had to take notice. The footage does not lie: it was a cold, remorseless murder — by our official representative — of a helpless black man begging for mercy.

Had the story followed the usual track — as it recently has for Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Ahmaud Arbery, Michael Brown — then it would have been just one more bit of evidence of the dominance of our darkest impulses. But that has not happened — at least not so far. Instead, good people from small towns and large, red states and blue, in America and around the world, have stepped up to condemn the crime and the underlying sickness in our society that allowed it to happen.

We have heard the claim that “this time it’s different” before, so I am wary. There are still plenty on the right who cannot, will not admit to the racism in our culture. “All lives matter,” they like to say, as if that is a real answer to the charge. Still, we can’t deny that there has been actual change. Minneapolis itself seems set on disbanding its police force. Other jurisdictions have banned the chokehold restraint and opened complaint files of officers to public inspection. Republicans have come out for police reform.

What heartens me most, though, is the demonstrators themselves. They have flooded the streets, risking interaction not only with the police, but with the pandemic. The protests continue even now, two weeks after the killing. There is genuine, across-the-board outrage among my fellow humans against racism and a fierce insistence that black lives do matter. I did not expect this.

That outrage may weaken over time, but for now it is enough to rescue my faith in humanity. Somehow, our better nature has managed to assert itself. That is always surprising to see, and never disappointing.
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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon