Venus Rising, Cynicism in Retrograde

Idealism according to the Oxford Online Dictionary is “the practice of forming or pursuing ideals, especially unrealistically” as in  “the idealism of youth” who we all know are ALL unrealistic.  Youthful Don Quixotes, chasing their unrealistic, idealistic, and impractical windmills…oh, how I love and miss thee.

The online dictionary supplied synonyms, one which caught my eye. Romanticism, “a movement in the arts and literature that originated in the late eighteenth century, emphasizing inspiration, subjectivity, and the primacy of the individual.”

I began thinking about idealism and from Romanticism, subjectivity, “the quality of being based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions”. I thought as I waited to hear the outcome of our election.  I have been thinking about idealism and subjectivity for the past four days as I write this…and maybe will be thinking about it for a while longer. 

My musings began as I watched Venus rise the morning after the election…Venus the Morning Star…“morning not mourning” I thought. Venus was the brightest light in the morning sky and was showing quite large to my eye…the Morning Star heralding a new day.

Like Venus, I am an early riser who, on good weather days, goes out and sits in his chair, lights a cigar, and meditates for a few minutes  while enjoying a cup of Folgers. “The best part of waking up is…” at my age, the best part of waking up is waking up.

I do not know which I noticed first, Venus or the cynicism oozing through my thoughts…I was depressed to boot, my thoughts scrambled like the broken kaleidoscope I have written about previously. 

Instead of brooding, I focused on Venus. The appearance of that heavenly body along with my meditations gave me a bit of hopefulness, based on nothing more than my “personal feelings, tastes, or opinions.” 

It is another day and Venus is just where it was yesterday, give or take a few minutes, a few degrees above or below its former position on the horizon.  The gas shrouded planet is where it was a thousand years ago, cosmological changes not withstanding.  I imagined The Morning Star might be near by in another thousand years.  My hopefulness grew.

It dawned upon me I might not be as jaded as I thought.  Mentally at least, I’m still the young idealist that left my teenage years for the adult world in the late Sixties and early Seventies.  I may be one of the nation’s older teenagers…an old hippie still waiting for the “dawning of the Age of Aquarius.”

I pondered over my idealism and subjectivity. I am dominated by my feelings.  Not very objective. Do not confuse me with the facts so to speak.  I either “feel” someone is right or “feel” something is wrong or if uncertain, according to my grandmother’s advice, assume it is wrong until proven otherwise. 

I have an open mind, I can be convinced of the error of my ways, but again, all things being equal, with no solid facts available, I go with my gut, my feelings.  If it feels wrong, it is wrong. I even took a personality tests that proved that very fact.

So…I have nothing solid to base my hopefulness upon other than my idealism and my subjectivity but, “Its going to be alright.”  There are more good people than bad, and I am hopeful. There are more forward thinkers than backward non-thinkers regardless of political affiliation, regardless of what state you reside in, regardless of religious affiliation.

I was hopeful as my best friend and I began our weekly morning walk at 6:45 on Friday. Venus had disappeared into the sunrise as we talked of peace, elections, religion and a plethora of other problems we could not solve. Maybe we walk too fast…or talk too slowly. We are Southerners.

We are polar opposites in our outlook on life. He the lifelong Republican, I the left leaning Independent who voted Democrat this cycle. He’s the life long Southern Baptist, I the…I’m no longer sure. I am hopeful because we have found common ground for over forty years and friendship upstages political or religious affiliation.

I am hopeful because of the smiling young lady who serves us coffee at our afterwalk haunt, The Tree House Cafe. The haunt is an eclectic and welcoming little hole in the wall and Lindi’s eight a. m. smile and laugh are brighter than the colorful tattoos peeking from below the sleeves of her sweat shirt. A bright and hopeful youth with oodles of energy early on a Friday morning…not mourning.

There are a group of high school students sitting around a large table, their laptops open and at the ready. I am told by Kristen, one of the owners, they are a study group from the local high school. Kristen is bright, smiling, and welcoming as always. An art teacher and artist, my guess is we share a bit of the same idealism.

The retired teacher in me wanted to admonish the students for not wearing facemasks but instead kept my mouth shut. The same old teacher watched their work from afar, their flurries of activity surrounding burst of laughter bringing a smile to my face. I’m hopeful despite the lack of masks and amazed at their early morning energy. I miss my days of warping the minds of our youth.

Our hope…our salvation is our youth, young people like Lindi, the study group, and young folk like them.

Despite my idealism it is time for an aging “dudeist” like myself to step aside and turn the world over to the young. We baby boomers had our time and royally screwed things up in my mind…my “personal feelings, tastes, or opinions.”  We need to see if the young can do a better job. We know longer live in the world of our youth…the new world doesn’t run the same way.

I’m hopeful the “rising” generation will be our “Venus Rising.” I am hopeful they will continue to pursue their unrealistic ideals and put wings to their dreams. I am hopeful they will ignore all of us who continue to try and put them in a box not of their choosing. I hope cynicism continues in retrograde even if it is just my own.

As I finished these musings I walked outside again. Venus was obscured by the predawn cloud cover and my hopefulness was tempered but only for a moment. The cloud passed and Venus reappeared heralding a bright new morning, allowing me to be hopeful again.

(For a definition of Dudeism, see below)

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Don Miller’s author’s page may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR23wUPDyCrxyhUiWI0EHKFTmJjLwrAAXOC4Z5Y9Foz95T-JdxM4CkFZFB0

Because I couldn’t find a picture of the planet that I liked I chose SANDRO BOTTICELLI’S THE BIRTH OF VENUS, C. 1486…a picture of a painting I do like.

“Dudeism” is a religion, philosophy, or lifestyle inspired by “The Dude”, the protagonist of the Coen Brothers’ 1998 film The Big Lebowski. Dudeism advocates and encourages the practice of “going with the flow”, “being cool headed”, and “taking it easy” in the face of life’s difficulties, believing that this is the only way to live in harmony with our inner nature and the challenges of interacting with other people. I am a fully ordained Dudeist Priest.

The Day Kennedy Died

 

I was six months past my thirteenth birthday when I learned of President Kennedy’s assassination, and I admit I had the political awareness of a rock…a very dumb rock.  I knew Kennedy was big dodo but I’m really not sure I completely knew why until I became a history major five years later.  I still had the political awareness of a rock but at least I came to understand the political history of the past.

We were called back to homeroom from our eighth grade PE class.  We weren’t happy.  During those days PE was a welcomed break from the academic day.  When we arrived at Mrs. Biggerstaff’s room we could tell something was wrong just by the look on her face.

I’ve tried to remember the feelings.  Can’t quite conger up what they were.  My age and cynicism are interfering.  I remember how quiet the class grew, quite unusual for an eighth-grade class full of hormone-driven early teens.  Sounds seemed muted.  Even the bus ride home was quiet.  Quiet as “inside of a tomb” quiet.

The young Kennedy was a handsome man with a beautiful wife and family.  He spoke in that “funny Yankee” accent but for some reason made people want to listen.   I remember reading accounts of his bravery during World War Two and later attending the movie made about his exploits.  I remember feeling sorry for his wife, especially after seeing her in her blood-soaked dress as a solemn LBJ was sworn in.

Fridays were “go to town day” normally a family adventure.  Monroe, NC, was the destination only because there was a bank that stayed open longer than any in much closer Fort Mill.  Mom, Dad, Nannie, and little brother Stevie joined me inside our nearly brand new ’63 Galaxy 500.  I can remember how we sat, and I can remember the faces on the people we met as we drove the eighteen miles to town.

My grandmother, a staunch Protestant Republican who worried the Catholic Kennedy might steal the White House silverware couldn’t believe someone would assassinate him.  Catholic or Protestant it was just wrong.

Maybe I am merely projecting but everyone seemed to have a pained look on their faces…even on the main street of Monroe.  There was a kind of reverie to the day.  People moved as if in a trance.

I’m sure Kennedy’s legacy has grown over the years.  He attempted much and was thwarted, much of his New Frontier collapsed under the weight of Republicans and Southern Democrats.  The Civil Rights Act of 1964 would not be implemented until after his death.  There was also the Bay of Pigs, the assassination of Diem and the beginning escalation of the Vietnam War.

On the plus side, he championed Civil Rights, stood up to the Soviet Union during the Cuban Missile Crisis, established the Peace Corps and challenged us to leave our earthly confines.  Some of his New Frontier proposals were implemented after his death.

There was a hope with Kennedy that we could be more, do more, that we could be a type of Camelot.  An idealism that we could make a difference.  Maybe that was what I was feeling…a simple loss of hope for a world that could be better…or maybe I’ve gotten old and cynical.

A very conservative acquaintance stated that Kennedy was the last great Democrat.  I countered with “and Eisenhower was the last great Republican.”  It was a somewhat argumentative conversation.  I don’t know.  Maybe it was my youthful idealism and propensity for chasing windmills…something I am happy to say I haven’t put aside.  I wish we had another Kennedy or Eisenhower…and the political parties who supported them.

Don Miller writes on various subjects, non-fiction, and fiction.  His author’s page is at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

The featured image is a picture from the Chicago Tribune.