A s I begin writing this on a wintery January night, I am blessed to meditate on how 2021 has gotten us off to such a swell start. It’s just after midnight, and I feel like Gandalf in “The Lord Of The Rings” where he’s sitting in a chair, smoking a pipe and mumbling about riddles in the dark. Something tells me that you’re not far from doing that yourself. I feel no need to rehearse to you all of the current events that have led us to this precarious place, nor do I find it necessary to state the obvious about senseless violence or gratuitous censorship, but because we find ourselves in the room with 2020 holding the beer of our current year, I will say this: hold on to your butts … because the power is out, and the dinosaurs are loose.
There’s nothing quite like the naked feeling of having a complete stranger walk through your house, assessing the value of your homestead in the midst of your lastditch effort to survive the financial collapse of the Apocalypse. Last week, I experienced for the first time in my life the dread of having an appraiser do a walkthrough on my property. However, what struck me as strange about the encounter was that as he walked from room to room, I felt a reassuring peace, and I found myself longing for him to give me an honest verdict. I mean … the pragmatic side of me wanted him to give me the highest possible value for my house, but the spiritual side of me desired brutal honesty … even if it hurt.
The news used to be a place where people found the naked truth. Reporters strived to be candid appraisers of current events. Nowadays, we find ourselves in the crossfire of cancel culture and warring entertainment industries that sell whatever distortions and exaggerations that their consumptive constituents hunger for. Trying to find objective news reporters is like trying to find unicorns in Alaska. The frostbite of fraudulence will be the only reward of your frivolous quest. Sadly, I think the last bastions of honest news are the smalltown newspapers.
There’s never been a time in my life more than this one where I’ve wanted to slip on an invisibility ring and just disappear. I would very much like to just find a cabin in the woods and wait for this nuclear social fallout to be over with. In fact, while on my sabbatical this month, I seriously contemplated walking away from writing and from music altogether. I’m just really tired. I feel like John Coffey from “The Green Mile” when he talks about being tired of all the pain he feels in the world … including people being ugly to each other.
Last week, for the first time in all the years I have lived here, a wild whitetailed buck visited my yard. It felt like an omen. Each night, I would hear my dogs barking, and as I walked outside, I saw that he seemed unfazed and curiously drawn toward the obnoxious clamor of my canine companions. Tragically, I think we’re all a bit like that deer. We have grown apathetically accustom to the barking dogs of our generation. There is no enlightenment to be found in their monotonous antagonisms. Yet, we find ourselves staring at screens day after day and night after night, being twisted by guile … as if in a hypnotic trance.
It’s time for us to walk away from the barking dogs. It’s time to find greener pastures. There may not be any unicorns in Alaska, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find some magic in the mountains of solitude. Walk away.
PAUL MICHAEL JONES is an artist who currently dabbles in music, photography and creative writing.