Fall arrives and the air feels crisp, or the fog rolls in with inversion layers, or the heat rises up in an Indian Summer with aggressive tentacles and I wonder where the year has gone. Winter will be upon us before we know it.
I had a panic attack the other day while stuck in traffic on Wilshire Blvd. I could keep up with myself. Or I keep falling behind myself. Or I’m falling apart. Playing catch up ball at this time of my life isn’t worth it. I wonder if anyone else is on my playing field. I’ve worked really hard this year – my lucky year of 11/11/11 – to start a new career, to learn new things to asses old habits, to find new passions, to be fully present in most everything I do and not to make too many dumb blunders. I worked like a stevedore to accomplish way too much and I’m wondering how it will all hang out at the end of the day or year. I worry that I have lost my nerve.
I feel like my life resembles the traffic pattern on the west side of Los Angeles where I live. I’m crushed between Sunset Blvd and Wilshire Blvd. – the only two ways out of Brentwood. The city of Los Angeles decided to fix these streets an the 405 freeway simultaneously for 2 years. It is armageddon every day of my life. I bear witness to it when I attempt to drive out of apartment driveway and can’t get out because there is a line up of cars on the street all turning right to get to Sunset – which is one lane at the moment – to get on to the 405 freeway to sit in traffic for hours on end trying to get home to work or to oblivion. I want to scream: “You can’t get there from here!!!!” People are whispering around campus buildings at UCLA that they want to pull a Michael Douglas in the movie, Falling Down, where he gets out of his car, leaves it on the freeway and walks in front of traffic in a moment of existential angst.
I feel like a microcosm of the world at large. Today I woke up to Gaddafi dead. A few days or weeks ago (I can’t remember there is so much happening around the world), several Al Qaeda mobsters were killed. The Arab spring is taking on other dimensions. Pakistan and Afghanistan, the two war horses that keep trying to annihilate one another, is in an endless cycle of coming up with new ways to kill innocent people. Israel, Iran, Egypt are in a triad of conflicts leading to no solution, no hope, and Europe is blanketed by bad debt and people who won’t get off the big teat for love nor money. The U.S. finds itself mired in something called a recession as it’s once great national prowess limps around in a leaderless vacuum. Are we falling apart?
As Thornton Wilder, the great playwright wrote in the play, The Skin of our Teeth, “The world’s at sixes and sevens.” I think I am, too.
I have written about the collective unconscious of a country, of a nation, of a group of people who take on similar characteristics at any given time in history. The people protesting in NYC the greed of Wall Street and immorality of people who make nothing and just shove paper around daily and get rich with no visible product are sending out signals like that guy in the movie Network screaming, “I’m fed up and I’m not going to take it anymore!” I like this movement. I wonder if there are any boomers in the group. Any of us itching to get involved again in a social movement? A lot of these protestors are out of work PhD’s, engineers, techies, smart people who can’t find a job and are just fed up.
Maybe I’m just tired this week. Maybe this is just a moment in time when it’s all too much for me. The panic attack – Oh, God, where is the valium when you need it – was a wake up call. Time to jump off the cliff without a net and see where I land. Hopefully, it’s not in LA traffic.