A Note both Personal and Inter-Personal at the End of 2012
by Frank Wynerth Summers III on Sunday, December 30, 2012 at 12:09pm ·
This is not likely to be the most widely read note I have posted in Facebook nor post on my own blog. It is perhaps unpardonably dark in tone when it ought to be more lit with hopes I have trouble finding. It probably ought not be. I really note the passing of my grandmother Beverly Marie Miller Summers, Mrs. Frank Wynerth Summers as a very notable passing. I have posted about her passing and I could post a great deal more as well. It is also a year when some famous strangers have died who have affected my own perception and experience of being an American and a human being. The famous American strangers whose deaths marked the end of an era which impacted my life include in their number Neil Armstrong, Stormin’ Norman Schwarzkopf, Whitney Houston, Ray Bradbury, Dick Clark, Dave Brubeck, Don Corneilus and Phyllis Diller. It is simply true that as little as these people have or had to do with me or one another my life would have been notably different if they had not lived and acted as the people we knew them to be in this country. As I live in a phase of life where I am not sure what my own future and experience of life as an American will be I do look at these Americans as a constant reminder of my own American heritage and identity. I am truly connected to them and they truly were to me and it is a USA connection.
As I type these words my nephew Dominic is turning nine and he is a great kid. He is one of the joys of the recent years of my life and there are quite a few such. My ex-wife Michelle will celebrate a birthday on New Year’s Eve. This year on the nineteenth of December we passed the milestone of what would have been our silver wedding anniversary. I observed the day among pleasant distractions but was not that distracted. Michelle and I have been apart far longer than we were together but she was the closest I have ever been to another human being except for early infancy and the nione months in my mother’s womb. Truthfully I do not remember those days in the womb very well. Any hobbies I had then seem to have slipped away. I remember my marriage of over seven years pretty well.
On November 15 I took the Revised GRE to replace my obsolete and aged GRE score. My Revised GRE Scores were 169 (better than 99% of all scores) on the Verbal Reasoning Measure, 5.0 (better than 92% of all scores) on the Analytical Writing Measure and 149 (better than 39% of all scores) on the Quantiative Reasoning Measure. At this point I am unlikely to go to graduate school soon but I am able to keep the scores for a while.
This 2012 calendar year I also became a grand prize winner on the Lords of the Blog, Lord Norton’s Quiz. That means I have a sort of invitation to have tea at the House of Lords with Lord Norton if the details can be worked out. I was happy about that.
During this year of the bereavement of so many at Aurora’s cinema, Sandy Hook’s school, the mall in Oregon, the countless bad highways and dangerous neighborhoods it seems out of sink for me to see my own life as being particularly bleak or sad. Yet I do. My harshest brush with death personally was a heart and stroke even around the seventh of August which was financially devastating and inspire me to lose sixty pounds. I have gained a few back over the holidays. But really my life was not measurably violent or tenuous compared to several other years. I could find some reason for contnetment in all that I suppose.
But contentment is not one of the emotions on my mind and heart as I live through this year’s end. I am coming to the end of this year and I have a great deal on my mind. However, the great deal is not in an expansive and liberated kind of great deal. In fact I feel very circumscribed and limited in every important way this year. It has been my practice to seek to live as a Christian for a long time. I still do seek to do so and always have. I am not able to say that life has seemed all that successful and sweet in any way. My conviction in the choice of Christianity as my continuing path is affirmed by a long list of achievements, contributions and shared experiences which I do value and rejoice in regardless of how important or unimportant they my seem to others. Christianity has been part of those good processes and events and that is why I not driven to great doubt by my own unhappiness which has been pretty much the norm. I am more than a bit worn out. I am more than a bit the worse for wear. That is the modaility of my life as I look back on this year and try to put down a few words about this trip by Earth around the Sun.
September 16, I accepted my first subbing job of this new era which was in the one of the same schools where I used to sub the most years ago. I worked a great deal until I stopped and then in the end I could not even get on to the Aesop online system. It was a sort of twisted and bad way to end what had been a fairly good association without anyhuge catastrophes. I had quit subbing for the VPSB before I wen to China to teach in 2003.
The recent shooting by a very young man named Lanza of twenty-seven people at an elementary school in a nice safer and more suburban than suburbia kind of town has sent ripples flowing through the community and region which certainly reach to the ehole country. Gestures of solidarity and offers of prayers from figures grand and distant as Pope Benedict XVI have shown how this event evokes the empathy of the entire world to at least some degree. We are all reminded by the pain and the promise of long remebrance which we know the families are experiencing that no death ends a human story. Not even for an honest atheist materialist does the loved departed really equate to a lifeless body. The memories, the story of a life, the status that must be filled in each web of relationships all survive. For many of us rthere is a near certainty of more although we may not agree on how to describe that more which we believe exists. These precious lives have been snuffed out and the pain of their loss is part of them and part of all of us. I do not feel much of the pain myself but I know it is there in the lives and minds of others. After Virginia Tech, the Stockton California shooting ofdecades ago, the Gabby Giffords rally shooting, the shooting at the Oikous College, the Aurora Colorado cinema shooting, the bombing of the Murray Building, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 or September eleventh 2001 and the violence of the Rodney King riots we cannot really pretend that there is a great deal of shock and surprise when violence occurs. Horror, grief, anger and many other emotions are justifiable. We can be surprised that it happened to this particular child or teacher but we cannot really be surprised that violence has disrupted and American community. The United States is not the most violent place in the world but it is a place where much violence has occurred and is likely to occur. However, this is a violent world overall. It is importsnt to know this….
The way my stint of work with the School Board ended is not easy to boil down and there is always the possibility of law suits. I am really very eager leave the subject behind I suppose. But it did make the Sandy Hook shooting more present to my mind. While I am not sure what official records will show in the electronic jungle of third parties and misfiles I did walk away. I think it will show that they let me go because I did not complete an online ethics course by the deadline. Those are some kind of facts but not the truth. This marks another breaking off, quitting and departing in a life of such transitions.
I have given up on a lot of things in my life and almost always as I look back on the situation I feel that I did the right thing. This is the case despite the fact that I wish there had been a lot more continuity and fewer of these breaks in the timeline. I have quit a good bit and also stuck out a good bit too. I know the things I hve kept up for decades or moreand the things I have attempted despite repeated difficulties. These are thefact I know. Beyond cognition of such facts I also feel that I have endured and persevered a really prodigious amount.
I do not feel bound to say that things are great and getting better. I do not feel inclined to say so either. For me much of life has been truly horrible and I have known dozens of people fairly well whose lives have been vastly more horrific than mine. I consider the world to be truly a disaster by countless measures and from countless points of view. For all the brillint contributors, decent people and natural abundances I have no trouble seeing countervailing bad trends. While I have counterbalanced my endurance with hopes, plans and optimism the balance has shifted over the years and hope has slowly faded into a near oblivion as regards the more soaring and intense hopes. In the horror movie which my journey through life has sometimes resembled I have had a chance to make many happy and helthy friend and family movies for which I am grateful. Some of those are the ones I have posted as videos online in the past year and a half. This can create anot entirely flase impression of a happy barge floating through a bucolic life but off camera I remember a good number of occasions of being forced to make my life worse in order to pursue the good in a vile and horrific milieu although I knew there could be very little or no reward. I have few videos of shootings, people dying in shacks, of polluted and ruined lands, of despairing victims of terror. But these memories also fill my mind on quiet days. They take a toll not erased by cake, wine and laughter. Yet they are not crippling abnormailities either.
While I have lost weight and retaken the GRE without finding a new path in life I am more aware than ever that I must make some real changes and they are not likely to be changes that please me a great deal. They are likely to be further personal admissions of the bankruptcy of institutions, plans and commitments among other entities on which I have relied. Such things as I describe are not the way one hopes to embody and recognize the thought, “The time has come for a new chapter in my life”. But I know that I am at place where such change is mandated.
America is facing a fiscal cliff, it has a downgraded credit rating, it is plagued with a reash of mass shootings, it has a North Korean opponent that may be able to put a nuclear device on any city in America and there is a remaking of the Middle East that is not encouraging. But the real crises in this country are not found in these headlines. I think the country may be as unduly optimistic as I am uninspiringly pessimistic. Such things are hard to judge.
It is hard for me to imagine that I will find a way forward in my own life that is really happy. However, I can now imagine making a break regrdless of the conseuences in the short term. I have reached a point where there is enough misery and horror in my current situation for me to strike out in a hopeless and worthless direction on the off chance of something better happening simply because I have reshuffled the deck.
Like many people I could compile a long index of what have been bleak and terrible moments. I could focus only an the bad times and make up a narrative that includes a great deal of the time I have lived. In such a narrative I would look back on what has often been a horrible life and forward to what will be a more horrible life. However, I also will say there have been many good times, events and happenings. I am trying to hope there will be some more of these and that whatever time I have left will also help preserve some of the good from what I have done in the past. My mother this year has published her book Our Family’s Book of Acts: To Love and To Serve the Lord. Her book is her story and yet is often about me. I endorse the book to a significant degree. It leaves out some of the glories I would include and also some of the shames and sorrows. It is from a diffrent point of view but it is also a record of my own life that came out this year and satisfies in many ways some need I have for a record of the personal and familial beyond transcripts. My life has always been a post tragic story with a great deal of the mad, bad and sad. But in all that misery there were more good things and causes than I could name. Life has often been hell but hell not in the most depraved spiritual pornography of some Christianity nor in the richer horrors of Dante but somewhere between Dante and the more nuanced and nearly pagan views of much of early Christianity. However, the time has come for the bleak and horrible to devour all the rest and I would prefer to move now as all this happens.
I have opposed President Obama this year most of the time. I still feel good about that. But he is the returned to office President. That is important in shaping 2013 as it is likely to be for us all. Besides the election what are the large factors which have determined the shape of this year. I have no chance of disussing all the events which have made this year tough and will make the next one tougher in probability. Beyond politics I have plenty of other problems…
Politics is also global. Egypt’s Moslem Brotherhood exists as the leading party in one of the central polities of the first Greco-Roman Christendom . The Coptic Pope Tawadros II was ordained November 18 and has my prayers as he seeks to preside from the throne of Saint Mark in these bleak times.
My parents gave me some coins that belonged to my grandparents this year too. It was one of many milestones in this unique year. This was a moment of relief ina wearing down year. But it was a bittersweet one at best. Often I wake at the end of this year thinking that I am really tired and my health is not very good considering that I have transitioned from my formerly very heavy state to what should be a healthier state. Perhaps after alife like mine it is realistic to say that 50 is older than it would be for some and I am forty-eight. Perhaps I should think after a litany of ills that; “I have hit one of the many points which mark the transit from some degree of happy exercise of one’s human faculties to the dissolution of death. I think that today is in many ways the worst day of my life but that more and more days will have that distinction until my life ends. I am committed to engaging in life’s challenges and seeking a future for as long as I can. But there is no real point in the enterprise….” But the counsel of depsair is unattrative from many points of view.
So I look to put this year in the books and to move on from here. I run out of time for this note and go to post it . Happy New Year!