The Long View

I’m reading a sort of romance written a hundred years ago. I say “sort of” because I don’t think there was a romance genre back then, at least not the way we know the genre. But it’s irritating me in the same way that modern romances irritate me. So much of the story is based on non-communication. If the people involved simply talked to each other, there wouldn’t be a problem (or a story). I suppose it makes sense for such an old book to be based on communication problems because that era was the beginning of it being acceptable for women to speak their minds, especially around men. But for modern stories to be based on the same stupid theme? Not acceptable.

That’s not the only thing impinging on my life right now that I find unacceptable. Rich, successful black politicians, politician’s wives, celebrities, sports figures who are feted and adored by blacks and white alike are telling their story with the same old racist rhetoric. “White people don’t see me.” “White people hate me.” Um . . . did it ever occur to these folks that maybe it is not their racial heritage that some people might object to, but them specifically? Not everyone likes everyone. Not everyone sees everyone. Not everyone cares about everyone. (Though we often pretend to.)

This reminds me of what Jack Nicholson said to Michelle Pfeiffer in the movie Wolf. “You know, I think I understand what you’re like now. You’re very beautiful and you think men are only interested in you because you’re beautiful, but you want them to be interested in you because you’re you. The problem is, aside from all that beauty, you’re not very interesting. You’re rude, you’re hostile, you’re sullen, you’re withdrawn. I know you want someone to look past all that at the real person underneath but the only reason anyone would bother to look past all that is because you’re beautiful. Ironic, isn’t it? In an odd way you’re your own problem.”

Other than that, I find nothing objectionable about my day. Well, I do find it objectionable that a couple of my Kentucky coffeetrees seem to be fading away. But if they all die, I’ll wait until fall or next spring, and beg my neighbor for another of the tree’s “volunteers” that will be growing in her yard. (There is one thing about the beans that bothers me. They are poisonous if eaten raw, but when roasted, they once served as a coffee substitute for prairie folk. My question is how did they discover that? If you eat the seeds, you get sick and maybe die. So why would you roast the seeds and try again? And how would you know they would make a coffee substitute if they made you sick before you could learn that?)

Although it’s uncomfortably humid today, it’s also cloudy and cool enough that I was able to plant my new plants. Perhaps they will do okay, but I won’t really know until next spring. Gardening is a hard occupation for a person who likes to see quick results, but then, it’s probably a good occupation for such a person — it teaches one to look at the long view.

Unfortunately, a long view isn’t necessarily different from a short view— look at the 100-year-old romance: the same today as it was then.

I suppose it’s possible that the folks who learned to roast the coffeetree beans took the long view, thinking that some illness and a few deaths were worth the long-term gain, in which case the long view paid off.

In other cases, such as the ongoing violence, burning, and looting that’s been going on for months now, the long view isn’t worth contemplating because what’s going on now can’t portend anything good for the future.

So maybe taking the long view isn’t necessarily a good thing to learn. Maybe I don’t need to learn anything when it comes to gardening — just do what I can, and see what happens.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator