"Oh man, that movie changed my LIFE!"

I hear this all the time. Often it's Fight Club or The Matrix or American Beauty or some other brainfuck of a movie. Sometimes it's "that book" or "that CD" instead. But in any case, it's one of those phrases that gets my hackles to rise.

Life changes your life. A sensory phenomenon filtered through someone else's senses should not. Yes, movies may make you think, they may make you reconsider some things about you, your relationsips, or the outside world. This is acceptable. This is more than acceptable. The human organism should be constantly changing.

A movie can plant a seed of thought that matures into something later. A movie can bring things you've already been thinking to a head and make something click and fall into place.

But to say that POOF! everything has magically changed in two hours? But for one single mass-produced, commercialized bit of entertainment to have that much impact? Are we as a race that easily influenced, that easily swayed? I don't understand. And I don't think I approve.

Humanity formed power structures soon after it developed language. It was a natural evolution. For those that are now the ruled, it is a nostalgic romance to believe that power was unfairly usurped. But really, someone has always been in power over another group. It is always an ultra-powerful minority that tells the vast majority what it should do.

If I hadn't made me
I would've been made somehow
If I hadn't assembled myself
I'd have fallen apart by now

There were many regional empires and nation-states until power structures began to operate on a global scale. Then comes along the Roman Empire, which eventually turns its power over to the Roman Catholic Church. Is this ineveitable? Americans love to toss their freedom around like it is their crowning glory of achievement. Indeed it would be if they were truly free. However, atleast for the forseeable future, there will always be a dominating power structure. People welcome these rulers with open arms, almost begging them to tell them what to do. In fact, people do not desire true liberation and free thought, no. People desire comfort.

If you let 'em make you
Make you paper machie
At a distance your strong
Until the wind comes
And then you crumble
And blow away

There have been truly notable exceptions throughout history. Socrates, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther, Ghandi. These are all people that made progress for the future of true individual freedom. Though their ideas were groundbreaking, what they cannot do is set up a system of guidelines or beliefs so that people can act as free people. They have to instill the very spirit that they have into others. For global individual freedom to come about, the whole globe would have to seize upon that spirit of belief in self and passion in action. True freedom is not given nor is it a passive activity. It is expressed in action. To follow one's government without critical thought, even if they spout a doctrine of freedom, is to live as a slave. If that is the case, you are first your government's person, and then whatever is left over is your own.

If you let 'em fuck you
There will be no foreplay
Rest assured,
They'll screw you complete
Till your ass is blue and gray

Make Yourself

Make Yourself - Incubus
from the album Make Yourself

I made it to 51... and it feels really good.

It's arbitrary, I know, but there it is. I look back now and take stock. I've reviewed and revised each stone along the path, some several times, often due to great feedback, and I can take a certain kind of satisfaction in each step. I see some disappointments and some unexpected successes. Certainly none of them are without flaws of one sort or another. But they're mine, and they're exactly as I want them to be.

I can see where I came from. It looks very similar to where I am now. Only I've changed, grown.

And something else has changed, too.

From now on, you'll have to click "50-100" to see my first writeup.

After a nice dinner out with some friends of ours, I come home to find my brother's number on the caller ID. My mother has been in Albany Memorial for the last two days.

She woke up with a stomachache that turned into a splitting pain by midday. After consulting the doctor, they decided to go up to the hospital, where they put her under the knife in short order to remove her gall bladder. That would have been all well and good, had they sutured her properly. Instead, she lost a lot of blood, and her pressure went through the floor. The doctors now seem to have the bleeding under control, and she's starting to make her recovery.

The promptness of this news is endemic of the communications between myself and my family. My parents are under the belief that the family doesn't need to know about family emergencies (they didn't tell me that my grandmother had died until three days later, but that is quite another story). And while I should feel pissed about this breakdown in communication, instead I find myself terrified.

I've had quite enough to facing mortality with the death of my grandfather last January. The last thing that I want to think about is the eventual passing of my parents, and this has been thrust into my mind. In talking on the phone with my father last night, I could sense the way he has become ever so slightly unglued by the sight of his wife, pale in the hospital. I thought about how I would feel, seeing my wife in a similar situation, and I realized that I would feel the same breakdown that he does. Sitting in darkened living rooms, drinking cheap beer in the recliner and silently screaming.

I had a hard time getting to sleep. These thoughts were constantly assaulting me, driving more and more terror into my heart. I hate the inevitability of it all.

Postscript - I just talked to my mother a few minutes ago, and while she sounds utterly exhausted, she was in good spirits. The doctors are slowly starting to strip her of her mechanical gadgets, and they're hoping for a quick recovery. I made a point of telling her how much I love her.

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