Floods, Droughts and Equity

Dearest Rachel –

There are things you don’t notice when they don’t apply to you. For instance, whenever I go shopping at Meijer, I pretty much ignore everything except for the grocery section; that’s basically dismissing out of hand nearly three-quarters of the store. As far as I’m concerned, the clothing, the housewares, the gardening, the automotive, and now even the pets department might as well not exist.

Similarly, there’s this empty space on Golf Road, between the two overpasses for I-53 and I-90, that I always forget about – or at best, I forget just how long it is. In between the two bridges, a driver is surrounded by a forest preserve on one side, and nondescript corporate buildings on the other. There are no landmarks in those intervening miles that truly stand out, and as a result, that stretch of land constantly escapes my memory. From my perspective, I half-expect to go underneath one bridge, and come out from beneath the other – which, of course, is not what happens. Nearly every time I drive to the mall on the west side of those bridges, I find myself surprised at just how long the trip is, and the time it takes. I can’t be the only one who this happens to, can I?

Other times, certain things stand out because they don’t apply to you – or maybe, it’s the fact that they don’t apply anymore that makes them so glaring. Most of these aren’t so much things that simply exist (which allow you to ignore them, like the stuff I’ve just mentioned) as much as things that call attention to the fact that they exist, like advertisements. It’s not so much the existence of Valentine’s day, for instance, so much as the endless bleating about stuff to get for the honey that I no longer have.

One of these sort of things was something I found myself listening to on the radio on my way to the ‘office’ the other day; an ad for a clinical ED treatment, for those for whom, I guess, the little blue pill isn’t cutting it. I literally never noticed these sorts of ads before, although they must have existed previously. The Baby Boomer generation isn’t getting any younger, and for whatever reason, they also aren’t getting any less horny, so naturally, this sort of thing would be a big business market to tap into, along with the ads for life insurance and retirement planning. Even in our supposed middle age, our generation continues to be ignored in favor of the bigger, older, more self-centered and self-absorbed cohort of malcontents that came before us.

Granted, this sort of concern isn’t confined to the Baby Boomers – it just happens to be part of their schtick. None of our parents would count as such, and yet, when we were going through your folks’ house and effects, we found (among many other things – your habit of retaining curious stuff is one you came by more than honestly) a bottle of those self-same little blue pills in your dad’s dresser drawer. Given your own pack rat tendencies – and the possibility that I might one day be stricken with the same inabilities as my predecessors, I half-jokingly suggested hanging onto the stuff for possible future use; you could pop a chocolate or two, and I’d take a pill, and have a grand old time. Weird to think of you being the sensible throw-it-out one in this scenario, but you pointed out that the label on the bottle indicated that they had already expired; heaven knew what shape they’d be in by the time I might have needed them.

And of course, I never did… and now, the point has since become utterly moot.

Now, one of the things that truly irritates me about these ads (which would’ve bothered me even without being in the situation I am) is that they claim that their service is necessary for a guy to be able to ‘please their partner.’ Hogwash. Unless your wedding tackle is prehensile – which, spoiler alert, it isn’t – there really isn’t anything it can do, in terms of stimulation, that can’t be just as easily accomplished by one’s hands or fingers – or even other body parts. While it’s true that – thanks to watching way too much World’s Dumbest together back in the day – we have heard stories of individuals who could use it to paint portraits or lift weights, it is the dancing bear of the body. If it manages to accomplish anything, that is the true marvel, not that whatever it accomplishes is done well.

History is of mixed opinion of Britain’s Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell. I’m no student of the man, so I will not venture any judgement upon him, pro or con. However, he is quoted as having given a prayer of thanksgiving that I have ever since been able to appreciate… with some understandable exceptions:

Some have hunger, but no meat;
Some have meat, but no hunger;
I have both.
God be praised!

Attributed to Oliver Cromwell

On the face of it, in its literal form, I can still say this with a full heart (and, thankfully, a full stomach). Taken in a broader sense, I am painfully aware of certain appetites that I can no longer satisfy. Meanwhile, there are those who have a partner at hand, and are unable to satisfy them, or at least, believe such. While perhaps not as necessarily to life as meat, I cannot deny the fact that the state of lack – in either direction – is a tragic state, indeed.

You might be wondering about the title of this letter by now, honey. It’s the sort of material that you might expect from me of a Saturday morning; another such that we might have spent together back in the day. But what does any of it have to do with the weather – particularly extreme weather such as that – and the concept of equity?

Well, I had considered referring to my situation as a case of ‘feast or famine,’ but it occurred to me that, like in Cromwell’s prayer, neither side is in a position to ‘feast.’ Neither I nor the hypothetical Boomer would consider ourselves to be in a satisfactory condition. And oddly enough, this is probably the natural order of things.

You see, while there has been an awful lot spoken about the concept of equity in recent years – and how to go about achieving it for everyone (and it has to be for everyone, or it’s not truly equitable, now is it?) – that’s not a realistic goal to strive for, nor is it even a positive one. The greatest accomplishments of mankind are all, somewhere deep down, based in a desire to be better off than others, somehow. Why would we wish to discourage that?

Besides, it goes against nature itself. Even as certain lands can barely call themselves such, due to flooding – be it from hurricanes, monsoons or simple winter melt and runoff – there are always other places where the ground is baked solid with heat and drought. To suggest we could somehow ameliorate these imbalances by decree – or even through engineering – and achieve equity in even this ‘small’ matter, is at best naïve, and more to the point impossible. We might as well expect the temperature to be the same at the poles and the equator.

We have to live with the lack that we have for now, while seeking to resolve what think we can with patience and persistence – all with the understanding that what we might not be able to fix all that we think we can – and enjoy our lot in the meantime. It’s a tall order.

So, as always, honey, wish me luck. I’m going to need it.

Published by randy@letters-to-rachel.memorial

I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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