I keep waking at 4 AM with a stuffy nose. Problem is, I keep staying awake at 4 AM with a stuffy nose. Which makes the ensuing day rather stuffy as well. In other words, we need all the unblocking we can manage. But that’s okay. I am saving my strength. For what? For Hillary Clinton. We hear her speak tonight in San Francisco on behalf of gun control.

As a shooting victim, this topic is of persistent concern. Gabby Giffords doubtless will also say a few words. Very few, as she is still recovering from her own shooting. The gun thing in America is quite infuriating. Representative Giffords, you may recall, was giving a routine campaign speech at a Tucson shopping center when she was approached by a lunatic with a gun. The latter, by the way, was well known to police. He was given to openly hallucinating, talking to people who weren’t there, all around this desert town. Everyone knew he was nuts. Wouldn’t want to interfere with his right to bear arms. Oy.

Anyway, that’s the evening. And, yes, I do plan to sort of take it easy between now and then. After all, it’s going to be an intense three hours of extraversion. Picture 800 or maybe 1000 people in the ballroom of a San Francisco hotel having dinner. Listening to miscellaneous speakers. Trying to be comfortable. Where is the men’s room? How long does it take to get there? Once I am there, what does it take to use it safely? The sort of question I answer early in the evening.

I will be there, that is the thing. I am here in general, that is the other thing. I have been here for 50 years, living with a disability, that is the additional astonishing thing. The 50th anniversary of my shooting occurred 8 June. Jane and I were homebound aboard the Queen Mary 2, that is to say, living a pampered routine and utterly cut off from terrestrial reality. And there it was, the anniversary day. I kept wondering what to do. Except raise a toast to all the people who have helped me over the years. “Helped” being a somewhat ambiguous term. With a little help from my friends. I get by. And I have more than gotten by. Friends, help, recovery, survival. My life. One big lesson. And each day I feel like passing the lesson on. Which isn’t so easy. This being no country for old men. Still, that’s the challenge.

And what is this supposed lesson? The other challenge. Articulating it. The answer lies in the things I care about, the people I care about. Earlier in the year I volunteered to work with foster kids. I even got trained. I never got called, though. So it’s time to try again. This isn’t even about helping people. Being with people is often help enough. And I need more of this.

And tonight there is Hillary. A fine leader marqué, I still insist. And, yes, a fine leader can miss the obvious. Such as the seething anger in the nation. Much of it focused on and around the country’s economic divide. Yes, she should have known. But I do believe that once she knew, that is to say, fully grasped what needed to be done, she could have done it. Let’s see what happens tonight.

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