An Unusual Luxury

No alarm sounds unless–heaven forfend–I have to appear in court by 8:30 in the morning. Customarily, however, I am off that particular hook myself, and rarely is there a case for the paper to cover. So we routinely awake, without rising, and drowse for an hour or more.

Every day. It’s an unusual luxury.

“Shall we drowse,” I ask the Chief, “or have coffee?”

“I’ll drowse,” she says, “while you make it.”

To drowse–perchance to dream. This twilight seems to favor the most numerous, vivid, and often humorous episodes. Typically, I’ll have three or four short dreams and remember each of them. The Chief says I sometimes laugh in my slumbers. It’s during this time, during these vignettes. What the dead of night and deep REM sleep hold is truly beyond me.

It’s an unusual luxury, too, during this fraught era. Just to forestall the relentless 24-hour news cycle for, literally, a spell and replace it with, say, something akin to the Marx Brothers verges on the miraculous. I’ll take it. Every day.

Of course, it wasn’t always like this. We’ve been through the mill of school, work and children. I consider it a fringe benefit of having emerged on the other side. Like at long last having a mostly quiet house–although I must admit silence is no replacement for the raucous, joyous cacophony five happy children generate. I imagine it’s part of getting old–but I’ll take that, as well, every day, because I remain too young to endure the alternative. Hope I always will be.

Don’t get me wrong: We’re not “empty nesters.” We’re fiesta nesters. That’s because we’ve raised them well, they’re out in the wild doing well in their own lives–are good, happy and responsible people–and because we’ll always make ourselves available to help them. They can always come home to live–and all at once, if need be, for however long. If there’s any “empty” in this nesting equation it’ll be because the Chief and I will finally be traveling. At length, abroad and in style.

Which might seem like another unusual luxury–at least for us–until you consider this: The ability, as a species gone extinct, to re-evolve your kind back into existence.

It’s not that I want a household of five kids again. Not at this stage of my life. It’d likely kill me.

I’m just imagining if our whole species could ever re-evolve itself.

10 May, from CNN:

A previously extinct species of bird has re-evolved back into existence, according to a new study. The Aldabra rail first went extinct around 136,000 years ago. Now, it’s reclaimed its home island.

According to a study published Wednesday in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, sediments from the Aldabra Atoll in the Indian Ocean show that the island has been completely submerged multiple times, wiping out all species inhabiting it. Every time, every species on the island went extinct — but the Aldabra rail has returned, again and again.

The rail is an example of iterative evolution — when the same ancestral lineage leads to repeated evolution of a species at different points in time. The rare phenomenon means that species can re-emerge over and over, despite past iterations going extinct.

Given what we’ve done with the place, maybe a complete re-evolution would be overmuch. Overkill, that is, in terms of how well we’ve managed the diverse ecosystems of our planet. Maybe we should just hope for the return of, I don’t know, bipedalism or opposable thumbs.

But here’s a notion that doesn’t even require our prior extinction: How about a re-evolution of the democratic institutions murdered so cavalierly by the Trump Administration?

Now that would be an unusual luxury, indeed.

Because I know there are republicans out there who are also appalled. They pipe up, apparently, whenever they’re not running for re-election. I understand. Still, it’s woefully insufficient. This is a crossroads, this fraught era, and it will require bravery from all sides to haul us collectively in the right direction.

So who’s with me? My act of bravery in this deeply red area is to opine thus while running a free newspaper in an era of newsprint decline. Sure–we’ve lost advertising, and advertising is the very life- blood of this paper. But needs must. There will be conservative republicans here in the Ag industry who will be hurt by the current ginned-up trade war with China. This is the time for their bravery to shine.

You can be a conservative republican and still bravely strive to regain your country, especially from the likes of Trump–whose allegiance, clearly, is only to himself. Maybe your act of bravery can be to support another republican not so nakedly recognized as a megalomaniac.

Or should I retreat to my luxurious slumbers, perchance to dream? Yeah, nah.


Joseph Oldenbourg

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