I’m finding it difficult deciding what to write about, my friends. It’s not that I don’t have ideas; it’s just that I don’t know what might be best or how to make sense of what I do know.
I have written here about baseball a few times. I guess I could again, even without games being played, big or little league. Baseball memories linger long, as you know. In fact, I just came across an image from a Little League game some years back. It was taken from behind the backstop showing one of my twin sons crouching in too-big catcher’s gear and the other twin on the mound, his left arm just coming down after the pitch, a slider it looks like. Between the two, the ball hangs, fuzzy in its movement, like a ghost in flight between one memory and another. It was the first time for a “Peebles battery” and the picture brought the moment right back to me.
However, without a season currently, the memories seem to hurt more than console.
I’ve written on faith for you in the past, sometimes unpopularly, I should add. I could, I suppose, go there again. I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude: the sheer simplicity of it, the inherent humility in it, the wonder at witnessing it in others, especially my now teenage sons. I know how it helps my faith, which, if I were honest, needs all the help it can get right now. I guess I could ponder that, as well. Stumbling and getting my knees scraped up as I careen and crash down my faith journey could make a good story.
But I haven’t been to church in months. I’m not sure my heart would be in it. Also, I can only hear my cries for gratitude landing on so many who have so little to be thankful for right now, which feels a bit insensitive, I guess.
Beginnings, endings make more sense than present
You have indulged my baffling fascination with what I’ve called “beginnings” and “endings.” Thanks for that. I think a lot about timelines and where we are on them, in whose time … it’s difficult to explain.
Anyway, I currently live a life that seems to simply be the present. I’m sure many others feel that way. Asking ourselves to consider what is ahead or closely examine what was just behind us is, if you’ll forgive me, untimely. Literally, now, this now, is not the time.
I could fall back on my folksy, narrative style and tell a story. Like this one: I was standing in my kitchen with my hand in a deli bag of sliced salami — as one does — when one of the boys walked in and said, “I don’t know what to do.” I guess he was bored but the question seemed more weighted than that alone. I immediately handed him a slice of salami and said, “You do now.” He took the slice, thanked me, and wandered off. Maybe I could vamp on that a bit, rhapsodizing on the notion of how, sometimes, all you can do is the next right thing, but I’m not sure it would be very genuine and, honestly, I’m not sure I know what the next right thing is anymore.
I guess that is the root of the problem here, isn’t it? The things I used to feel were so right, don’t seem to make as much sense anymore.
Should I write of a pandemic that is killing so many, wrecking the economy, and ruining the daily lives of families everywhere? I could but, I’d probably have to leave out a lot. Like that this time has definitely brought our family together just as it was beginning to fracture into the busyness of high school life. There would not be so many games of Scrabble or euchre or hearts, far fewer movies and dinners together and cooking sessions. I would not have the opportunity to watch our sons face the stress and adversity that remote learning and social distancing has placed on them. They’re 15, and, well, would most certainly rather be among their peers, especially girl peers.
Honestly, I’d probably be tempted to brag about them, tell you how proud I am of the grace and pleasantness they’ve exhibited through all of this. I am not sure that that sort of message would make sense when I know parents everywhere are having a very hard time with their teenagers — children in general, I’m sure.
Showing my age, privilege
Should I write about protests and racial injustice? I am an old white Boomer and fear I am as much the problem as solution, and I am sure my thoughts are less than relevant.
I could tell you about my feeble attempts at explaining all this to my sons, my years of explaining our privilege as whites in an uncomfortably “undiverse” community and school district — a subject they are better equipped to advise me on than I them.
If I did try to write on this subject, I’d have to admit that I am not a protest kind of guy. The energetic and emotionally charged crowds truly frighten me. I want my sons to know they are free to protest, march and voice their disdain, but I’d be afraid for myself and afraid to look the fool to them, honestly.
What of the lack of leadership I see at the highest levels in our country? I could justifiably rant for thousands of words on this alone. My guess is, I don’t need to. Integrity, decency, honesty, humility are all not hard to spot — and the lack of them is even easier to discern. Also, the final one-word answer to that is simply this: VOTE!
There is one thing, though, that I truly don’t want to write about: my anguish.
Sometimes the suffering and pain I see overwhelm me. I sit in my cozy home, surrounded by a loving family where I watch the world burn with a literal and figurative fever that rages in a way I have never seen before.
On the news, I see images of courageous healthcare workers behind masks and gowns, and see only the burden and sadness in their eyes.
I watch videos of these huge marches and see only the individuals behind the posters and raised fists, and I feel the bitter, justified anger in each face. But I also see the hope in the same faces and choke back a sob at the two emotions so painfully entwined.
I look for leadership, direction, encouragement, and comfort from those in power. Instead, I get nothing but rhetoric and mixed messages and my anger turns inward metastasizing into deep resentment and, honestly, debilitating rage.
I would like to apologize for my lack of courage. Other writers here have found theirs and have written on these very subjects with great eloquence and strength.
So, that’s where I am at right now, any advice would be welcome.
As always, peace to you,
P.S. I forgot to mention, I’ve got a pretty good piece about teaching the boys to mow the lawn: rules, and advice, stories, that sort of thing. That’d probably be best, don’t you think?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bill Peebles left a 30-year career in the restaurant business to become a stay-at-home dad to twin boys. He writes a blog, I Hope I Win a Toaster, that makes little sense. He coaches sometimes, volunteers at the schools, plays guitar, and is a damn good homemaker. Bill believes in hope, dreams, and love … but not computers.
Make sense of world in crisis photo: © funstarts33 / Adobe Stock.
Restless Joe says
Thanks for this. It’s long gone 3am here and I too am at pains to make sense of the world as it disturbs my sleep… I too feel that lack of courage, bravery, strength and as much as I want to be kind to myself, so much out of any sense of control. The truth, which becomes harder to hold back, is that it all hurts. Thankfully, I still have hope, that has become the main source of energy to try and get through this, but I’m also uncertain about what the world will be like afterwards too; let’s hope we find a better one and try to work toward that as best we can.