Stories / Breakdown

Nine o’clock.

The pandemic makes me feel terribly frustrated. Where is everybody? There’s no one to talk to. Suzanne hasn’t emailed yet this morning… The Zoom meeting at ten o’clock may or may not work out. I wish I knew what Suzanne is up to… Pastor is leaning on me for moral support this morning. He’s never done a Zoom meeting before. Some people would have a hard time with the technology. I will call in about five minutes early and see what happens.

Eleven o’clock. The meeting went ok. Then I went and bought a Coke and something to eat. The weather is beautiful and sunny, not indicative of any disaster. The staff at the market, it occurred to me, aren’t very nice sometimes. I don’t like going there on Sundays because of one guy in particular. His friends often drop in to visit him, and they’re all pretty shady. Belinda hired him before she sold the business. She was never a very good judge of character in the guys. The way she suddenly sold the market was odd, and it left one of her sons in a bind. His position had been secure until then. Now he has to scramble between two jobs, one of them working for his brother. He seems to be just another subordinate employee with his mother out of the picture. His attitude has changed to docile and subservient from his former lording it over people. Why did Belinda do that to him? But I feel bad for a lot of the people who work at the market. And maybe they feel bad for me too.

Noon hour. Sheryl was another person who wasn’t particularly nice. Sometimes I feel thankful for the people who are nice. What if everybody were as mean as Sheryl? There wouldn’t be much to live for. Pastor Dan showed me his new tattoo yesterday. It has his dad’s fingerprint with the caption, Tell the stories. Indeed, stories are didactic and moralizing, and in that respect they are true. Facts are only one kind of truth. My brother didn’t see the use in stories. He is a scientist with a blind spot for human and social things. I think it’s good to know the stories and repeat them. Circulate them and keep them going. Suddenly, I appreciate the beautiful spring weather as I recall being in sixth grade. It was a time when the theme was The Lord of the Rings, a story we all came to know.

Five thirty. I tracked my iPad down to Sacramento. They still say it will arrive Tuesday. James and I used to argue about the benefit of stories. He thought they were useless, and only mathematics was true. Just like my brother. I would still argue that storytelling is quintessential to human life. The tales we have and continue to tell sustain our souls. They come from a deep place in the human psyche. The factual accuracy is not what matters, but rather the moral purpose, the lesson. What happens when a culture throws out its stories? It seems to me that it becomes degenerate and inhuman. Consider the way Sheryl treats people, then look at my friends in church. Think of Ancient Greece, a civilization that fell after the people stopped believing their stories… Only seven of us showed up for the Zoom worship. The rest didn’t bother to call in.

Six thirty. I emailed Lisa regarding the worship this morning. Suzanne is taking her time about contacting me. It’s been a heck of a week, especially since Wednesday. Almost a complete communication breakdown…


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