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The Count Is One... Two..

Cartoon sketch of a man lying awake in his bed with his eyes wide open and black thought-clouds hovering overhead. A crescent moon rises in the background to the left. Illustration by Earle Levenstein.

Woke this morning feeling…off.

Reflex; screen the usual suspects: events yesterday, upcoming dates, unresolved issues. Nothing conclusive, except for a kind of sourness; nothing dreadful, but nothing good, either. A negativity. Zero expectations.

Breakfast and off on my morning walk; four miles or so just about every day; usually helps start my engine. Sputtering today; still running through possibilities; no life and death; but that draggy, no fun feeling was hanging on.

Last leg; a few things to pick up at the market.

Spotted grapes. Bagged. Looked good: green, red, black; thought green for a change.

Waiting for the woman ahead of me.

Waiting…and waiting.

She was feeling her way through the green grapes. Pull out a small bunch, turn it over, look at it, replace it, go on to the next bag. Finally, no choice: rolled on with her cart.

Immediate image: my mother. Leading proponent of the Don't Count on Anything approach to life.

Beautiful sunny day: That's now; it can change in a minute.

He/She/It is my very best friend: Friends; they come and go.

This is going to be a great summer: You won't know till it's over.

That unreliable, transient, impermanent view of life; unleashing for me a stream of images, perceptions, expectations, hopes, dreams. Material I've been dealing with forever.

Internet, TV. newspapers. A random, non-prioritized river of bulletins: a local fire; a murder in a nightclub; a missing child; an interview with a fire-fighter. Around the clock local, national, international; events, speeches; marches, killings.

Upfront yesterday, in the stream of happenings: an international horror; a missile, destroying a children's bus: killing, maiming. Innocents, torn apart; bleeding; crying. Why? An error or intentional; the usual accusations, denials, outrage, heartbreaking scenes.

Then, within an hour, gone in the torrent of assaults on the mind, the soul; the rat-a-tat-tat, nonstop, day-in, day-out flood.

The totality: disorienting, destabilizing. Never-ending.

The economic, social, political, military, chaos; here and everywhere in the world; violent wars, opposing armies; ready and willing to lie, cheat, steal, loot, pillage, burn.

No accommodation.

And so here I am, damaged goods, rebuilding, restructuring, reframing, confronting my perennially in-the-process life, while living with a daily, moment by moment, impossible to evade, reminder that my Mother's words do indeed, live.

Don't count on anything. Nothing is permanent.

What to do?

Well, after a retreat, contemplation, review; sorting through the material; organizing; separating; two groups: Can do something. Can't do anything.

Then, the impossible part; accepting the overwhelming number of things about which I can do absolutely nothing. My forever challenge. In the works for a lifetime.

From there, it's on to a get-a-grip, pep-talk session. Or many sessions. One-on-one. Me to me.

Lecture. Berate.

The movie where the hero is lying flat on the canvas; the referee is counting; and the hero hears his buddy's voice: What is this? You're giving up? What about all those kids depending upon you to bring home the bacon…rebuild the school…heal the wounded…

Anyway, the point is, despite logic; there's no giving up; it may seem impossible, and surely is, but that absolutely cannot be a choice.

I mean, what then? Let the Bad Guys take over?

No way.

So, I hear the referee counting; my head is clearing; I'm now the Little Engine That Could, and I'm on my feet…

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