Bye bye, Boris

Summertime, and the livin’ actually is pretty easy. Fish are jumping somewhere. And the cotton is doubtless high somewhere else, probably near Bakersfield, a semi-desert in the southern part of California where such water-intensive crops should not be grown. But that is beside the point. The point is that I expect to wake up in the morning hearing that totalitarian forces have seized control of the nation. Many around me consider this fear misplaced, or at least, excessive. I don’t. Vigilance cannot hurt. I have heard enough family stories to know the sort of thing is entirely possible.

Is the opposite possible? Can a nation heal? Or can a nation heal without inflicting too much bloodshed upon itself first? Anything is possible. Look at Bixby. One of our two dogs, rescued about eight years ago from the house of some hoarder in Oakland…where 25 dogs were living in squalor. Anyway, Bixby was found blind, mangy and very afraid of people. It’s been a long road back. His eyes are now good, and after many years of avoidance, he now directs them at people. It’s only in the last year or so that this very affectionate little dog would look at people when they petted him. Healing is possible.

And never complete. This is something I need to remember about myself. And the other thing about lifelong healing is that it means lifelong discomfort. It means a certain level of frustration and disappointment. It means striving, and it means failing. At this stage of life, I cannot expect to see many things completed. Acceptance is all.

Thing about living with a disability is that the experience of aging gets mixed up with everything else. My functionality has been steadily declining, often dramatically, for over 50 years. So what’s new about being 71? More decline than usual? Perhaps not. The good news is that I am used to combating decline. I complain about my boring and exhausting exercise program, more than two hours daily. But what the hell. I seem to be in the nick of cardiovascular health. This despite grave signs of orthopedic stress. Continual neurological deterioration. A mixed bag.

And what do I expect of myself? Maybe too much. Time to pull the plug on certain things.

With my sister and brother-in-law visiting, and old friends coming to town for the night, something possessed me to suggest we all converge at Boris Godunov. The San Francisco Symphony was doing a semi-staged concert version. I staged an exit at the intermission. It seemed a terrible waste at the time. But all of us were bored. It was exciting, briefly, to hear these Russian voices from the Bolshoi and Marinsky Theaters. Then I started to zone out. The Mussorgsky score begins to sound very much the same. And the story, such as it is, puts one profoundly to sleep. Will Boris become Czar? Maybe, maybe not. It’s a cliffhanger. And for once, I decided to let go of the cliff and fall onto BART, the regional subway, for a fast ride home.

After five weeks away, home is still feeling awfully good.

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