Waiter, There’s a Fly in my Swill

We all have some basic needs in our lives, and I believe that these needs drive our actions. The most basic needs are food, water, and shelter, but I am more interested in the deep rooted needs that drive our day to day actions. Those needs include things like being accepted by others and having some semblance of control over our destiny. Control of our destiny is a nebulous thing as pieces of our destiny are in the hands of some other nitwit. So what is this nitwit to do? I have no control over the other nitwit or the circumstances that are foisted upon me in my day to day doodling by the nitwits that surround me. I think that the serenity prayer sums up the attitude I must embrace to retain my sanity.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

And while we are focused on control of I have noticed recently that my attention to detail has increased dramatically. When I say detail, I mean in the seemingly inconsequential nuances of life. For example, the lawn gets a lot of my attention during the summer. I cannot stand even one clump of crab grass, broad leaf weed, dandelion, chigger, ant, or beetle to stain the tapestry of existential beauty that my lawn has become. Likewise, my car needs to be clean and odor free both inside and out at all times. My business, investment, and personal financial accounts need to balance to the penny. The bottom line is that all things in the microcosm that is my domain must be clearly reconnoitered, accounted for, and balanced.

Now why is this? In my foolish youth it was not this way. My car used to be a petri dish in which I would nurture biological experiments of monstrous proportions. The apartments in which I lived all had one chair, a table, a bed, 2 tons of garbage, and a growing heap of beer cans.  There was no white tornado that could clean up this mess. The best that could be hoped for was a dark gray or brown tornado.

I do notice a few differences between these two times in my life. During the earlier times, my stance was more agressive, thriving on chaos. It was always best to have about eleventy two irons in the fire at the same time. Wild, restless, and out of control is the best way that I can describe it. Did I have control of the situation? I guess the thought never really crossed my mind, but looking back at it now objectively, it seemed to be out of control.

I think that the reason that things have become so organized now, is all about control. Having not become the ruler of the world in my old age, I must organize and rule what I can to make my life complete. Since I, and most of the old men that I know, have control only over some limited set of resources, we must while away our days organizing the resources that we have absolute control over to make ourselves feel more empowered. Like Superman in his Sanctum Sanctorum, I must have an organized place in which I can while away my time thinking cosmic thoughts. In all truth, the only place that I can very nearly achieve this nirvana is in driving around the country side in my car. Probably the reason that you see so many old men driving around town by themselves on any given day.

This behavior has many manifestations. I see it in the old man chasing kids off his lawn, washing his car in the driveway, trimming the hedges, putting up the Christmas lights, and mulching the garden. I constantly hear my golf buddies bitching about their wives and kids and the messes that they leave. Even my barber gets in on it. Just last week he was howling about his kid not putting the dirty dishes in the dishwasher.

The sole purpose of man can be summed up in a simple interaction between two cartoon characters:

Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight?
The same thing we do every night, Pinky – try to take over the world!

All content copyright of Christopher Hammond