Theodicy

Ten o’clock.

Doing my best to stay awake. Meanwhile, some people are just getting up. This isn’t much fun. I’m killing time but there’s nothing ahead for today; I might as well go to bed.

Eleven o’clock.

I just got a duplicate package from my health insurance company, a kit of odds and ends in the interest of wellness. I don’t need two of them, so I don’t know what to do with this one yet… Yesterday I saw a mourning dove feeding on the ground under the magnolia: the most beautiful sight. Milky and gray with a small silky white head and long tail. It was there again this morning and a little junco stood nearby, while the sparrows kept busy about their birdhouse. Clouds have moved in since early partly cloudiness and they said rain for late this afternoon. My dog Aesop has been sulky and bored the past few days and his mood gets me down as well. Tomorrow I should get Gloria again and we might go out to lunch. Till then I’m sort of treading water and marking time. It’s become a gray day, rather glum and cheerless as I wait on the high sea for the ship to come rescue me. I can give the other wellness kit to Gloria. And to stay awake there’s hot Lipton tea. 

It all works out for the best in the end (although I waver on that point). And then you begin to wonder about theodicy: the existence of evil in a good world. Maybe life is tragicomic in itself, before we try to figure it out and shape it the way we like. Maybe there’s no endpoint from which to judge the meaning.

I still haven’t solved Aesop’s problem. In the meantime, my friend will be reading Pollyanna… 

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…All Possible Worlds

Well, tomorrow is another Gloria day, and we said she would take me to Bi Mart for the fun of it. I guess I can make a little list of items to get while we’re there. Things for hygiene, maybe. I’ll think of something. But the real reason I want to go is to see some familiar faces at the store and kind of take a stroll down memory lane. Bi Mart is like a time capsule, a place that resists change if it can help it. The same staff has been working there for years and years. Many senior citizens go there to shop, or anyway they used to. My parents and I moved here in 71, and the Bi Mart was already a business. When you think about it, old people are quite amazing because they have such a long memory and have seen so much in their lifetime. This morning I looked back 40 years to when Rush was still on the radio. I was on the sidewalk of Maxwell Road trying to visualize the old days of being a teenager, but it wasn’t easy to do. Changes come and they are incontrovertible. Reality is implacable and doesn’t give an inch before an individual’s imagination, his dream of happier times. Then again, long ago Carly Simon sang that these are the good old days. We could use some of her optimism today.
The same thing is happening today on WordPress: just no enthusiasm to read stuff whatsoever. So, naturally my mind wanders back to when I actually had fun with my life. The last time wasn’t so long ago; it was when Aesop and I lived in the trailer after the fire, and in the fall I’d go to church with my heart full of hope and optimism, and not an ounce of cynicism. I had trust and faith that everything would be all right for me. Also it was before covid came along, and then a series of disasters. And Pastor’s mood grew a lot darker, and the wheels came off of everything after that.
The question is how to restore that old optimism and faith that sustained most of us up until the time of the pandemic. I can remember some of Pastor’s sermons from before the dark times, and they were really pretty good. Once he talked about the “glad game” of Pollyanna, which was like Pangloss in Voltaire’s Candide: everything that happens is for a greater good down the line, and events are always for a purpose. Another expression for this is “teleological,” a belief that Aristotle held, and also Hegel much later. Leibniz argued that “this is the best of all possible worlds,” and God always chooses it for us from his infinite goodness.
So I wonder what happened to all of that in only three years’ time? And I think it’s a case where remembering the past can be quite useful in picking us back up again…