After re-reading Emerson’s essay “The Poet” late last night, I became more convinced than ever that human beings have never been more miserable and unhappy than in the last century. This, despite more material abundance, security and personal freedom than ever.
The news today is one long disturbing kvetch, a rising wail, an ear piercing keening-whining choked with indignation, full of blame and outrage over how people feel they have been “wronged.”
Yet life doesn’t owe us anything. Never has. It’s a gift to be enjoyed, in spite of the rough patches and ruts in the road.
Life is hard, full of disappointments, always will be, but this attitude is a pathological dead end response, this psychotic “me, me,me” stuff.
Christopher Lasch’s THE CULTURE OF NARCISSISM published in the ’70s was so prescient in this regard. Surely one of the most over-used words today is “selfies,” so symptomatic of what has to be the most self-referential selfish era in all the 4,000 years of civilization as we have known it. Also see THE NARCISSISM EPIDEMIC: LIVING IN THE AGE OF ENTITLEMENT.
I’m not in the habit, as followers of this blog know, of publishing the poetry I write here–or anywhere online. But thinking about this today reminded me of a poem I’d written in a bit of a rage and a pique of extreme frustration over all of this. I dragged it out today and offer it here for your consideration.
We live in a swill of our own making. We don’t have to, but for some reason can’t see anything beyond our own noses as relating to us, as meaningful or true or beautiful today. Even love. Even love and loyalty have become disposable emotions.
©Copyright 2014, Margaret Langstaff, All Rights Reserved
The water is still rising.
The sky is blue and has been blue for years.
The people cry out from the rooftops.
The people are on the roofs of the houses.
On the roofs of the houses, the people wave,
Hailing the sky like a taxi or ambulance.
Now the water is still rising and now rising still.
It covers the loose shingles on which the feet
Of the people stumble and slip,
Waving their arms at the blank blue sky,
Wailing now a last dilute complaint,
Soaked by gray rain, drenched by dark tides
Of their own making, every orifice a green gurgling fountain.
The people shake their fists at the sky
Curse, weep, thrash, growl,
And shove one another from the rooftops
Into the swill beneath their feet—
We have met the enemy and take selfies of it non-stop.