Patterns in the Sand

It’s an election year. Our economy is still in the toilet. We’re bleeding jobs to overseas competitors. Unemployment is still rampant. Talk is circulating that the feds might start to raise interest rates. We’re still at war. We’ve just been caught abusing people in the custody of our government. At any time, some whacko could walk through the door with a bomb and it seems like half of us are constantly expecting it and on edge. Our own government is stripping away our rights and feeding in to the general fear and paranoia. All in all, it’s a rough time to be an American.

One of the lessons I’ve learned over the last several years is that nothing lasts. All this misery will eventually pass, and we will even out to something moderately acceptable. Good times don’t last, bad times don’t last, they all eventually move towards the center. Sometimes, though, it seems like the depths of the bad times reflect the peaks of the good times; we stoop lowest when we’ve soared the highest. Maybe this is some sort of grand balancing scheme, making sure our karma evens out in the end. One of the things that I always try to do is to pay careful attention to the undercurrents of society around me. As I’ve said many times before, I am a people watcher and an observer of life in general. I am also a person that can draw together a coherent pattern out of a seemingly unconnected series of events, clues or bits of information. This tendency has often frustrated my family when I can (at times) easily guess my Christmas or birthday presents, but it also allows me to paint a vivid picture based on nothing more than a set of feelings or vibes.

I usually can’t really put my finger on exactly what piece of information finally does it for me. I can’t usually tell you when I slip over the peak and suddenly just “know” something. It’s organic, the information sort of swirls and eddies around me, accreting slowly until suddenly there’s this gleaming pearl of understanding. I could no more explain how I do this to someone than a person could explain how they curl their tongue up. Either you can do it or you can’t, but you can’t ever really explain it. What I can tell you is that I’m starting to see the faint glimmerings of a pattern emerging from the chaos of daily life. I can’t quite put my finger on it yet, I can’t quite tell you exactly what it will end up being, but I can tell you that some order and regularity is poised to emerge. I get the general feeling that this order, this regularity, is a good thing. I feel like we’re about due for an evening out of the scales and the pendulum is making its way back to center. Lord knows we’re long overdue for it, and I’m hoping I’m seeing a true pattern emerging instead of just imposing my own wishes on a chaotic and depressing period of life.

Many things lead me to believe that what I’m seeing is real, that what I’m experiencing isn’t just imaginings and wishes. I see patterns in the way people talk to other people. I hear snippets of their conversations, see and feel the things they are concerned about, and get a little bit of insight into the concerns of their daily lives. I see patterns in the economy, in the seemingly random and unconnected bits of financial news that I glean from the newspapers every day. The job market is still sluggish, but it finally seems to have hit bottom and started working its way back up. People are caring more about world situations than seems normal for the last few years, they are paying a little less attention to their own personal misfortunes and focusing a little more energy on the inequities that exist on the world stage.

More and more people are asking pointed questions; they want to know they “why” behind situations instead of being quite so content to just go along with things. The American public is slow to rouse, slow to anger, and quick to forget but once they get lumbering in a certain direction they usually manage to change things. The trick lies in seeing which way they are heading and either running around in front to wave the baton or just simply in getting the hell out of their way.

It’s very fashionable now to prophesy doom and gloom; to loudly proclaim how our world is going straight to hell in a handbasket. I used to yell right alongside the doomsayers but I’m beginning to quiet down just a little. I’m beginning to hope just a little. I’m beginning to believe, just a little. I hope I’m not wrong.

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