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The Storming Bohemian Punks The Muse: 2021 Edition #2: “Let The Dreaming Begin”

I could write many thoughts for this column as we start off a New Year. A New Year should be a time of hope and anticipation, and there is certainly much to hope for. So I might choose to write about that and the coming Spring and the persistence of joy if we look for it no matter what circumstances seem to destroy it. The moon does not fall from the sky, the stars continue to twinkle, consciousness is infused with grace, and I believe this as surely as I believe that I’m glad to have been born. Even having passed my 60th birthday (I will turn 65 this year), I am irresistably drawn to imagine a better future for me and everybody.

It is a terribly life-denying mistake to refuse to imagine the best of all possible outcomes when going forward in any situation. We cannot take seriously what we cannot imagine, and this is true of our dreams and our hopes.

But sometimes it is necessary to imagine what can go wrong as well. Because we cannot imagine defeating an evil whose reality we deny. And as much as I would like to turn my attention exclusively to the future joys I am willing to imagine, I feel I must not deny that all of us, today, in America, are facing a great and growing evil. It is necessary to imagine its continued rise so that we can fight its evil fog with a better and clearer vision of clear skies and a victory by the forces for good.

In my personal life, I face crises as well (don’t you?). COVID continues to keep me mostly unemployed, and pretty much alone at home in the company of a roommate. I have not seen any of my usual social circle in person since last March, with only a couple of brief exceptions. My interactions with others are confined to the internet, visits to the grocery store (which often result in conflicts over mask wearing and social distancing) and making small talk with my roommate as we pass one another in the course of the day.

And now I face a further difficulty: my landlord has chosen this time to evict me. He hasn’t set a date, but I know now of his intent to take my apartment off the rental market. So move I must.

The world around me, and my own world, is changing and much is passing away. I use that phrase, “passing away,” very consciously. The loss of my home is something I must grieve before I can move on. After my husband died a year and half ago, for months I awoke each morning with a single thought: “Jim’s dead.” As if I had to announce this fact to start each day in order to let it sink in. I had to fully embrace that reality before I could begin to move on with my life.

These past few days I awake each morning with the thought: “My home is gone. It’s over.” This is sad, but not entirely. What I have learned is that I must fully, without any ambivalence or doubt whatsoever, let go of this home in order to make room for something new (perhaps even better) to enter my life. Clinging and regretting are both useless. I must fully accept the loss to make room for a meaningful future or remain stuck in despair.

And it has occurred to me that my situation of loss is very much akin to our nation’s situation of loss. The reality is this: The America that we’ve known (and by “we” I mean any adult alive today) is gone. It is not “under threat,” it is not “changing,” it’s GONE WITH THE WIND, baby. With the recent attack on our capitol, as shocking in its way as the events of 9/11 or the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the America we’ve known is gone and it isn’t coming back.

The change is as potent and permanent as the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the defeat of the Confederacy, the realignment of Europe, and so on and on.

The assumed truths about American politics and power are in the trashcan. Trump’s actions in recent days are nothing less than a declaration of Civil War. He is the leader of an insurrection, and he has troops at his disposal. This is reality.

We must accept the loss of America as we know it. It is the only way forward. We cannot and never will make America great again. At least not in any way it has been before. We cannot and never will return to normalcy. Normalcy, as we’ve known it, is as drowned as Atlantis, never to rise again.

Something new must come. But it cannot come if we focus our imaginations on restoring what is gone. We must create brave new visions.

I need to envision a new home and let the old one go. We all need to envision a new economy, a new America, a new culture and we must be oh so brave in the attempt.

The time is now. It is essential. Our imaginations must not fail us, either in our understanding of the reality of the violent passing of the old or in our efforts to envision a meaningful future.

It is up to all of us to accept the collapse of the world as we know it, and to envision for the next generations a world born anew.

Nothing less will do, my friends.

Let the dreaming begin.