|As much as I tire of winter, and I truly do, it has its advantages. We live on the 45th parallel, halfway between the equator and the North Pole. As I am sure those in South Dakota, Michigan, and Maine will attest, days are short in the winter. The amount of daylight we get allows for about four hours of useful consciousness with the rest being devoted to stupor. It is not something that works to the advantage of working people and parents, but it does for me.
Expectations put upon me are deservedly low. It is something that greatly aids in meeting them. When I was expected to be brilliant, it was much harder. Now, if I manage to install a light fixture without a trip to the ER, it is counted as a great success. That, combined with four hours of useful consciousness, makes winter a rather restful time.
Contrast and compare with the present situation. The yard resembles a civil war battle field. Restoring the borders, smashed plantings, plus removing the detritus caused by the soldiers who for some reason were shooting the trees will be a monumental task. I will go broke before I can fill my truck with gas enough times to take all the trash to the dump. Being stuporous in winter is OK, but rousing from my mole-hole shop, blinking at the blinding light after months of torpor, the prospects for getting it done are daunting. Worse yet, the expectation is that I will.
I know that at times like these the tough are expected to do something, but I am less ready to do it than they. My efforts so far have been directed towards extending the stupor but that hasn’t seemed to pay off in results. I have the beginnings of a plan. It is to go over to my buddie’s house, drink beer, and complain about the rise in expectations that we are both laboring under. That hasn’t worked well, but we will give it a couple of dozen more tries before giving up on it.
One of my favorite lines comes from Carl Sagan in his novel Contact. Ellie, the lead character, is told by her father to use small steps when tuning her short-wave radio. Later in the book, the statement is echoed by a personable alien, which lends a great deal of credence to the idea. Using the assumption that anything said by an alien, even perhaps a stuporous one, is superior, I am using small steps to address my dilemma. Knowing what constitutes a small step to an alien is a tough one, so I am taking a conservative approach. I think I will get dressed first and take it from there.
I have a lot of respect for Dr. Sagan both as a scientist and an author, as well as for his role (whatever it was) in selecting Jody Foster for the role of Ellie in the movie version of Contact. As a guess, I would say he did not have many stuporous days. Even if the alien’s advice was simply the product of his superior intellect, it is still good enough for me. It is a shame he is gone. Lacking his advice on what constitutes small steps, I think getting dressed is the way to go.