The Time of the Sappers

ImageNow that we are a few days into the year it is safe to say that the majority of the New Year’s resolutions have been broken and only a few weeks until the gyms are again empty of all those dieters and office dwellers who totally will lose that 10 lbs this year…. The nights are long, the days short, the winter cold at times, warm at others, is upon us for the next several weeks and so many wake up and return to home in total darkness. This period of time is not exactly the super bowl, not entirely Oscar™ season a listless time of hibernation and the flu.

The jellies and preserves are still appetizing, the pickles still tasty, many of us still interested in the food we have managed to tend from our gardens and have yet to push aside the jar of wax beans for the can of Chef Boyardee, to push aside the book we meant to read over the winter and turn to trash TeeVee, this is not the hungry days of spring but still the fat hearty soup season. Life seems to be plodding on. The wars are apparently winding down, the Fiscal Cliffs™ more accepted and regularly paced, the tax season opening up to allow a few of us to become N Rich for a while as our forefathers had told us they enjoyed. It is seemingly a season of calm mundane routine, even the MSM seems to be sifting for something worthy to say. The current population seems End of the World fatigued, War on Christmas tired, Financial Crisis exhausted, Gun Laws drained, and generally it seems like Suicide Tuesday is here for all of us after rolling for so many weeks on one emergency after another.

We can say, oh watch out, there is a reckoning a’comin’ there is a time of tribulation tending nigh, this is the calm before the Superstorm (are we up to Mindy yet? I would love a storm named Tod or Bitsy or Mr. Nibbles)…. We can sleep and we can make dire predictions, but it seems that what we are in for is actually a long few years of managed equilibrium. The gas pipelines will slowly make their way across the country. Banks will again merge or not. The cost of gas will go up and then down. Fracking will continue, tar sands sludge their trudge to market. Gun Laws will take up much of the paper until some forgotten star overdoses and dies in some fantastic way. Normal may just be here, after so long of fretting about emergencies and signing petitions on this or that or Native American gambling halls. This is Empire, this Empire is slipping, but didn’t the world of Edward VII seem all none too upsetting and there existed a sort of bliss of Beaf Eating Men of the Empire (and women too, those who had teeth)? The age of Victoria had ended, all her wars and railway stations and all those pink bits on the map expanding into areas marked “unknown” and populated by darkies, and there was yet any World War and things just existed all the smog and smoke and telegraph poles increased and Fuzzy Wuzzy bought those things made in London factories and Bruce protected the Empire and Patty still knew his place . And is that not too much to ask for? A little break from everything before plunging back in to the shit and pissass disasters?

ImageThe regency of Lord O and Lady M will continue for four more years and in that time the fights and frets will be but entertainment and what the media call “content.” Something to get your attention and sell you Burma-Shave or Fuller Brushes or Lend Lease tractors and that, as they say, is that. The protests so in fad a year ago won’t return – perhaps that OWS was more the pent up energy of the Bush years being finally and a little belatedly released. The economy won’t fail, nor will it return to the levels we assume will allow life back to our dead malls and diminishing big box stores. Money won’t just vanish one night and inflation won’t just appear and the stock market will raise and fall and not impact the food on the table you may eat the next day…. Unless you work in the stock market. Then, you may go from doing blow off of high class hookers to smoking crack in your shed and meth in your car you now live in.

What does this mean to us, to those little people who were assured of some great confrontation? It means we must all plan to Dig In. Yes, that is perhaps what this all means. We must release ourselves form the fantasy that we all have tree forts or secret caves with pirate gold and accept that reality has settled on a course for history and while that history doesn’t include us, the little people who pay taxes, it nevertheless is like a machine now running like one of those Edwardian timepieces that today fetch such a high price.

ImageDigging In is not the adventure of the high seas. Not the fantastic moment all your survivalist toys can be put to good use, not your chance to be Dr Zhivago (or Laura), Laurence of Arabia (or Lowell Thomas), or Moses (or Jochebed or Bella depending on which Moses you think of). This is the drudge of getting up in darkness, working all day either at some meaningless job or the monotony of sorting dirt into piles for your garden and doing this activity until it is dark and you return to bed. This is the long journey of saving what you can, finding ways to pay your bills, and acting the role of the Volga Boatmen (minus the boat of course) for our owners. This is being an adult for the next few years.

ImageThis is releasing ourselves from fantasies of workers rising up, political revolutions changing our government, armies rounding us up and placing us into camps, kids taking over the banking industry and releasing us from our debts, technology saving us from anything, or winning the lottery (either Power Ball or Shirley Jackson, depending on what springs to mind). This time is come we need to be sappers, those members of the military that knew how to dig in, how to create complex tunnels and passages to build under walls and fortresses and set charges as needed. Like Verdun we dig in. Like the Viet Cong we dig down. Like Centralia, PA, we may just riddle the place with chambers and tunnels and perhaps when needed, set the whole thing on fire. It may be a root cellar you dig or a skill you work on for the next four years, but Dig In We Must.

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