Quiet Desperation

Reality-based greetings as another year begins

Column by Craig Marshall Smith
Posted 12/29/20

Sir Walter Scott said a new year is “The fittest time for festal cheer.” I wish I had it in me. Flipping a calendar page isn’t enough. There’s too much weight and I’m too realistic to …

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Quiet Desperation

Reality-based greetings as another year begins

Posted

Sir Walter Scott said a new year is “The fittest time for festal cheer.”

I wish I had it in me.

Flipping a calendar page isn’t enough. There’s too much weight and I’m too realistic to believe in the illusion of a fresh start.

My wet blanket is, however, only half full.

T.S. Eliot, more tempered than Scott, said, “Last year’s words belong to last year’s voice, and next year’s words await another voice.”

Trouble is, “last year’s voice” will yet be heard, loud and vulgar and dispiriting, and the impact will linger, perhaps for years to come.

This column was debated. Ultimately, I decided against more hope-filled thoughts. There will be plenty of those coming at us from other sources.

Like it or not, Americans want “to have their cake and eat it too.”

Growing up, I never understood what that meant. I do now.

We want to have all of our freedoms and liberties, and not be encumbered by common sense and responsibilities.

Like what?

Masks, social distancing, limited occupancy in restaurants and serving hours.

A New York City bar owner ran over a cop after police tried (again) to close his business down.

Men (as it were) in Michigan wanted to kidnap the governor.

Men in Michigan planned to kidnap the governor.

My Michigan-born shoulders slump every time I read something or hear something that comes out of Lansing and Detroit.

It’s going to be a while — never? — before I forgive 74 million for voting for a liar.

And we have yet to reconcile the reasons for the protests all across the country.

Over all of that, smothering everything else, there has been a pandemic, deadly and destructive, poisoning our mental health as well as our physical health.

There have been heartwarming and heartbreaking stories.

And inexplicable behavior.

This is not the space or the publication to attempt to explain human conduct during a crisis.

G.K. Chesterton wrote, “The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes.”

It makes enjoyable reading, doesn’t it? Like a lot of year-ending, year-beginning philosophical aphorisms.

Searching for inspirational quotes, I found hundreds. I refer them to you if you need some Hallmark.

The silver lining has been a Great Reminder of the values I consider most important that spare no crook or deceiver.

The silver lining has been a Great Reminder of the urgency and beauty of Life, and the responsibilities of its ownership.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton was a fascinating character. He was referred to as “the prince of paradox.” According to Time magazine, “He made his points with popular sayings, proverbs, allegories — first turning them inside out.”

I am old, tired, anxious and restless. You?

Chesterton said, “The old man is always wrong; and the young people are always wrong about what is wrong with him. The practical form it takes is this: that, while the old man might stand by some stupid custom, the young man always attacks it with some theory that turns out to be equally stupid.”

What it comes down to, at least for me, is something Warren Zevon said, “Enjoy every sandwich.”

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.

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