Anxious Moments

If you get confused just listen to the music play
Some come to laugh their past away
Some come to make it just one more day
Whichever way your pleasure tends
If you plant ice you’re gonna harvest wind
A few lines from Franklin’s Tower. Grateful Dead (Garcia/Hunter/ Kreutzman)

Let me just repeat that last line for emphasis: “If you plant ice you’re going to harvest wind”.  More on that further on.

Writing about “anxious moments” in June of 2017 now 7 months into Donald Trump’s presidency presents itself as a herculean task. I mean where to start? For me perhaps it is best to start with a bit of self-examination of what may be causing my anxiety.

If my privilege allows me to simply weather out the storm of the next four years with little or no personal damage, and sadly that seems it might be the case, I must say that it is very tempting to just put my head down and go about my daily routines.  That would be much less anxiety provoking I think.

I have Medicare and not Medicaid.  Paul Ryan and his bunch would certainly like to get rid of both but Medicare seems a reach to far politically even for that crowd. Medicaid on the other hand serves a much more vulnerable and powerless group of Americans. The strong and largely elderly voting block represented by Medicare recipients is somewhat of a bulwark against Republican intrusions – Medicaid not so much.

I also get a small Social Security payment and a pension from the City and County of Denver. Both of these are fairly solvent entities that I expect to last for my remaining years. That is perhaps delusion on my part but rather than get “anxious” about it I prefer to just blithely skip along. I acknowledge this view may really be from looking out on the world from my relatively privileged window. There is of course any number of ways the whole really fragile edifice could come crashing down on all of our heads. So I am choosing to resist on many fronts anxiety provoking or not.  Let me relate a very small, and perhaps even a silly way, I am resisting.

Significant marijuana tax revenues going to Colorado coffers are adding to the overall financial health of the State and our City in very major ways, indirectly helping keep my City pension solvent, a tax tide sort of floats all boats. I am choosing to do my part by exploring marijuana edibles in earnest purchasing recreational rather than medicinal and paying the larger tax.  I could of course legitimately play the HIV card and get a medical marijuana license but for now I can afford the higher tax on the recreational herb. Taxes really are the cost of living in a civilized society and it would only add to that civility I would think if a significant portion of us gets stoned on occasion.

So what else, other than getting high, am I trying to do to counter the toxic miasma of the Trump presidency enveloping us all? Well I am trying not to ‘plant ice’ and by that I mean I am acknowledging that nobody is wrong 100% of the time (thank you, Ken Wilber). Well that may not apply to Trump but I am willing to give nearly everyone else on the planet a pass.

Without getting too deep in the weeds and stretching the metaphor to death you can simply think of the phrase “if you plant ice you’re gonna harvest wind” as another way of saying don’t be an asshole. That behavior often causes anxiety for others and yourself eventually, adding however small to the anxiety burden of the planet.

A recent personal example of my regrettably ‘planting ice’ was when I encountered Human Rights Campaign (HRC) solicitors out in front of the Trader Joe’s near my house. It was a warm day and I suppose I was cranky from the heat but I decided to give these young 20-somethings a bit of crap around HRC’s early endorsement of Republican Mark Kirk over Tammy Duckworth in the Illinois U.S. Senate race last fall.  HRC switched to Duckworth a few weeks before the election supposedly due to nasty things Kirk had to say in a debate about Ms. Duckworth and her family but the damage had been done in my mind.

Initially I felt mildly righteous for sticking up for my longstanding belief that the at times too conservative HRC was not my Radical Fairie cup of tea. By the time I got home a couple blocks away I started to feel somewhat anxious about the interaction though albeit it was pretty tame, no stone throwing or cursing had occurred. I began to worry, a great hallmark of anxiety, that maybe I had not made myself queerly obvious and they thought I was some old homophobic jerk. So I put my groceries away and walked back down the street. After assuring the two I was not stalking them I explained further my issues with HRC and threw in a few other things to firmly establish my gay cred. They listened politely, nodding a lot and I am sure hoping this crazy old queen would soon move on. I ended by saying that I appreciated and admired their being willing to be openly and politically queer on a public street. Not something I would have done in my early twenties.  This proved to be one more instance in my life where I realized if I were going to plant ice I would soon be harvesting wind.