The Certain and the Uncertain: How I Plan and Act to Get Through 2020

Patriotism is a theme of my life and so is a devotion to Christianity and Catholicism but it is not certain that I will always be perceived as Christian or a patriotic American. A devotion to horseback riding, French 18th century fiction or Tyrolean folk songs can remain a sort of personal matter. I unlike any number of other devotions both the United States and the Christian and Catholic Churches are very real institutions in which other members and authorities are entitled to determine at least one version of what devotion ought to look like which others in the institution and community are entitled to respect more than the inner convictions of an individual and even I as an individual can sense the and recognize the ways in which I have drifted into the land of discontent. There are enough crises right now for lots of voices of discontent to fill the world but my own discontent is a bit older and and the record is preserved a bit more broadly. Rich and independent men can afford to be labeled malcontents and so can some kinds of poor people but not the kind of man I am but that road may well have been taken too decisively and too long ago to do other than just continue on the path.


I am certain that I wear a mask for many things and gloves on many occasions and that I own and use a lot of hand sanitizer. I am certain that I do not have the resources to meet my obligations without income and that a lot of people are not working just now. I am certain that I am certain that the rice mill that has been operating in Abbeville, Louisiana for over 100 years is not operating now. I am certain that the coastline of Louisiana is growing more porous and degraded year by year. I am certain that the schools were dismissed in mid March and they have not resumed regular operations although the schools would have opened by this date in an ordinary year. I am certain that this period has seen me do my required Board of Ethics training to continue to work as a public servant. I also finished getting and then renewing an insurance license and getting the required training to sell annuities. It has been a challenging thing to make it through this period so far but not a worthless time.

I do not title this piece, How I plan to get ahead in 2020. I am in the throes of a moderate hope for some moderate success in a line of work that I might find somewhat interesting and rewarding. I am also finding a way to persevere in a number of endeavors in which I have been involved for a long time. But life has a number of consistent themes and those themes are all indicative of a great deal of consistent decline in my overall position. I am not a man who has much to gain or lose in the way that a younger version of myself might have had. But I am still alive and active. Therefore there is a lot more to life than merely waiting to die. I am busy trying to figure out what is left in the particular life I have to live in the time that remains. I would like to say that I believe that I will be engaged in life largely devoted to the many goals and ideals that I have cared about in my life. I could find reasons to say such things but it would not be entirely true and I would rather not lie.

I have had ambitions of almost every size and most of them I have let go for one reason or another. But I have not renounced them because all of them are part of who I am. I am not letting them go so much as putting them on back burners or in deep freezes while I prepare other dishes in the kitchen of my life and capacity. We shall see what happens next. But I am not concerned about being overwhelmed with success.

I hope to do some teaching, maybe publish a fw things and maybe sell some insurance. I am trying to tend to all the other things I need to do but I am not filled with a sense of forward progress and I do not feel like I have a good chance of being fairly treated. I will do the work I can and play the position I find myself in a s well as I can. But I am not starting from a blank slate or any sense of endless opportunity. I am largely marking time until I expire. The losses are somehow endless. and the high points are largely in contrast to the long series of low point and long stretches of low plains that make up the geography of my life. At times it is possible think of all the various times that I have appeared in public for one reason or another. I look back at some public moments and the publicity is also to be balanced with the obscurity and disappointment of the times that make up most of the years and determine much of the times and trends of my life.

There are a great number of things that are very uncertain in my view the world has a very strong interest in only a few things, in the kind of very real intensity that characterizes the way a crisis is understood. But coastal erosion, climate change, water management and the development of school curricula are not much in the news, not on social media and not in the few conversations that I get into from time to time. I have pretty well adjusted to letting go of pretty much everything compared to what might have mattered to me at any time in the past when I might have wanted to do some particular thing or other. But I have come to understand my life largely as abandoned projects and enduring disappointments.

I find it impossible to describe my current employment status in the terms of questionnaires provided. and am not always able to answer other basic questions because none of the options provided really seem to describe my situation. This is not the exception so much as it is such a huge series of incidents as to become something at least very close to the rule. One of the attributes of the insurance company who laptop I have been issued, with whom I have an ID number and with whom I have a training account is Patriotism as a practice and a commitment. But I am not yet getting paid nor am I under contract. My identity and designation with the School Board has never quite returned to the one I had in 2000-2004 which is the only one I ever applied for and they are currently not available to provide the only jobs I currently do or ever have done except for a few accidents mostly in 2012. All of this is much too complex to fit into the website that provides some benefits to me. Those benefits are more money that I have ever received in all of my life in Federal benefits but they really are not that much money. But they will be finished soon. I have been working on a relationship with the patriotic insurance company for many months and have recently been putting off likely offers from companies offering to pay from $17 to $32 an hour which is more than I ordinarily make in recent years although in line with other periods when I did earn those rates and they were worth a lot more in real dollars than they are now. Life has been hard and bleak and these federal funds have been a counterweight to bad times and bad policies. But there are plenty of opportunities for all of this to come to ruin while I hear the preachments of those who may claim that I could have dome better and differently.

For me the question of what I could in theory do differently is not the question that interests me. Nor do I wish to take back any of my harsh criticisms of the institutions to which I have devoted much of my life. Nor do I wish to remove comments to the effect that some of my life experience has been hellish. If none of this interests me then what question does interest me?

The question that interests me in the time of COVID-19 and unrest and governmental crises is largely the same question that has always interested me. It is the personal question underlying my view of every larger question. The question is whether I can make the contributions and reap the rewards necessary to make a life work for the time that I have left? It is just not possible to pretend that I have the chance to make life work in all the ways I still think it should as I believe that it should. I simply can choose how to spend the time I have left when there are no really workable options of the type that even enter into the rubrics of the ambitions that form a certain kind of life.

So I await the immediate future not knowing how it will go. But I am looking forward to a simple ad yet splendid vacation for a few days and hoe enough things will go well for me to steal a way a few days with family in Galveston over the next week, Then there is just the unknown that must be charted and the path that must be walked, it is a path of certain troubles and uncertain opportunity.

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