January 6, 2016

I’ve started and stopped this one a dozen times or more.  Hell, I started trying to write this before Christmas, and here it is, well into the new year, and the days are running by like they know where they’re going.

Hemingway strove, each day in Paris… maybe throughout his career… to write “one true sentence.”  That’s something like what I’ve been after here, but I guess it’s hung me up.  (Hemingway also said something along the lines of, “if you can’t write, don’t write.”)

Last Friday, New Year’s Day, was the end of my first deer season at the new house in North Carolina.  I reflected on that as I sat under the maples and gum trees in the pre-dawn, the crossbow balanced on my knee, and some unseen creatures moving closer, and then away in the darkness.  But within two hours of daylight, my nose running from a wicked head cold and my stomach growling for breakfast, I called it off.  There’s a little room in the freezer, but I don’t think we’ll be buying red meat in 2016.

That’s not really what I wanted to write, though.

Anyone who’s followed the chaos and cacophony that has been The Hog Blog knows I generally steer clear of politics.  It’s not that I don’t have my own opinions and convictions, but I learned a long time ago that trying to hash that stuff out on the Innerwebz is a fool’s errand.  Nevertheless, I’m compelled to write something.

It seems to me that we’re at a unique and strange point right now, both politically and socially.  I don’t think it’s just this country either, but all over the world, things feel like they’re teetering on a tiny, sharp point.

Maybe it’s just the inundation of information, both from the mainstream news media trying to stay relevant in the digital world, and from non-traditional media that appears to be blazing new trails and constantly blurring the lines between fact, opinion, and fiction.  Maybe it’s age and my growing cynicism.  Whatever it is, I can’t avoid the sensation of tension near the breaking point… between races… between religious zealots… between economic classes… between political extremes.  It’s like a big wave rolling onto a sandbar… all the energy condensing, forcing the roiling water into a peak that’s growing higher and beginning to crest and curl.

When I moved to Texas, part of my plan was to essentially pull a big rock over my head.  I would live out my days on the frontier (and it truly is as much of a frontier as you’ll find in this country), happily doing my own thing, and leave the world out there to go to hell as it might.  I would turn my back on political bullshit that seemed to, more and more, consume people’s lives (and attitudes).  I figured that, no matter how screwed up things got, this would be the last place to feel the effects of political or even economic upheaval… or at least, it would be the place where I could ignore it the longest.

Maybe it would have worked out.  The truth is, though, I can’t just not care.

I can’t not care that our political process is rapidly declining into pig slop.  Elections at every level have all the integrity and dignity of Jr. High School politics.  Rather than the ideal of an informed and engaged electorate, the general voter pool appears to be increasingly susceptible to the most ridiculous rhetoric, intentionally ignorant, and focused on knee-jerk reaction rather than thoughtful consideration. As a result, we’re seeing everything from a growing movement to surrender Federal lands to State and local ownership (which is the fast lane to privatization), to blatant erasure of any aspect of our country’s history that may give offense to any portion of the citizenry.

I can’t not care about the evolution of extreme ideology.  The ugly realities of xenophobia and racism, never extinguished but at least dimmed for so long, are being blown into full flame under the guise of “patriotism” and “common sense”.  Good people are being sold a bill of goods.  The currency of the day is fear and loathing (Hunter Thompson should be here now).  Part of me wants to think they deserve what they’re getting, but really, it hurts something inside of me to see it happen.  Negativity breeds negativity, and that affects everyone, bystanders included.

All is not darkness, of course, and if I turn off the news and step away from the Internet for a few minutes, things brighten appreciably.

2016 is full of promise on a personal level.  The Texas house is sold, the new house is bought (and one day, the rain will stop and they’ll finally get the new house in place), and I can start to re-learn the home place.  Hunting season is pretty much done for the year, but after a mercifully short (I hope) winter, it will be time to focus on the ocean.  Last summer was practically a loss, but this year will bring fishing and diving.  I can’t wait for the first dinner of fresh, grilled, spanish mackerel, or grouper speared on one of the offshore wrecks.

From a blogging perspective, I’m pretty sure I’ll still have something to write about.  Guns and hunting aren’t going anywhere, despite the panicked rhetoric.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little concerned about the future of public lands, especially in the West, but the direct impact on me… I dunno.  I still want to hunt the wilderness in Montana some day.  I know I’ll be making the occasional trips back to Colorado for elk, and that relies on public land and access.  But really, I’m pretty sure that, like most hunters, I’ll find a way to keep doing what I do.

I’m heading to the SHOT Show in two weeks.  I’ll only be there a couple of days, but I have no doubt that it will be a couple of days dominated by political discussions of varying logical and factual integrity.  I intend to drown the noise in the general chaos of the Show floor, inspecting new products and (hopefully) rekindling relationships with various vendors and PR representatives.   Fingers crossed, I’ll be looking for some quality products to review over the coming months.

As long as the world doesn’t end between now and then.



One Response to “2016”

  1. JAC on January 7th, 2016 09:31

    A think piece from Phillip! Yes, please!