Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Hard Day on the Planet

Loudon Wainwright III is best known for being the father of singer Rufus Wainwright and for his early '70s hit, "Dead Skunk (in the Middle of the Road)". I was thinking today of another one of his novelty songs, "A Hard Day on the Planet", which has as its refrain:
It’s been a hard day on the planet,
How much is it all worth?
It’s getting harder to understand it,
Things are tough all over on earth.
Today was a bad day--not for me personally, but for the planet as a whole and mankind in particular. Everywhere I turned, there was bad news: jobless claims are at new highs; there's still much more oil in the gulf than BP is telling us; Pakistan is underwater but nobody is contributing any money for assistance; Russia is on fire; China's air is unbreathable; Indonesia's coral is dying from water temperatures seven degrees above normal; the stock market is swinging wildly up and down; the midterm election ads are all negative; people still believe that Obama is a Muslim; and Israel is on the verge of attacking Iran.

I am normally a fairly optimistic person, but it's all enough to make me give up hope. Since I have been old enough to think for myself, I have known that nobody really knows what is happening and that nobody is really in control of anything. The most we could hope for was that our better natures would predominate over our baser instincts to prevent utter chaos. Now it seems that chaos is winning. In my gut, I know that life will never, ever be as good as it was just two years ago, before the housing bubble burst. We have reached the point of diminishing returns. It's all downhill from here.

Do we take deep breaths, steel our resolve, and keep doing the best we can, knowing that it doesn't really make any difference, or do we take stock, re-evaluate our situations, and move in new directions, knowing that it is somewhat selfish but ultimately more rewarding to make the most of the time and opportunities we have left? Nobody ever gets to the end of their life and wishes they had worked harder, but as Loudon sings, "Things are looking kind of gray, like they’re going to black." Life is short. Make the most of it.

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