Sunday, May 16, 2010

Hill of Beans

Really, my little band of merry fishermen are fictional.  Seriously, if I wanted to write a thinly veiled version of myself, I would have put them sitting at a Steeler game.  The whole scenario was a) sort of fun since I hadn't done anything like that in a while and b) to set up the final conundrum, which is real.  Those are my questions, but the rest was just the window dressing to lay them out on.

I used to play this little game with myself.  Sort of a "Would I do the right thing?" scenario.  The set up for it was this:  when I was growing up, believing myself to be my father's progeny, I was intrigued by the fog that surrounded my paternal ancestory.  Mother told me most of what I know about his side of the family tree, and apparently it was impossible to trace his family back past his father, who had immigrated here before the United States was involved in WWI.  Dad never spoke much about his family as a whole.  He would tell a few select stories, but he wouldn't tell much more than that, unlike Mother who was ready, willing and able to quote her pedigree.  Add that to the fact that my grandfather, Oscar, was a prototypical German: a gruff man of few words who one could easily imagine goosesteping to a socialist beat. Therefore, I used to wonder if I had family members who were Nazis and that's why Mother couldn't or wouldn't find more about Dad's history.  Then, like a child's imagination will tend to do, I would begin to wonder what I would have been like if I had been alive in Germany during the war.  Would I have done the right thing?  Would I have had the courage to stand up to tyranny?  I always used to think I would.  Naturally, in my child's mind, things were a lot easier to define.  Now that I'm older, I see that things are much more grey than black and white.   More than a half century later, Nazi Germany is easily definable as an evil empire, but would it have been that easy to see in the moment when you were either brainwashed or frightened?  And, when it came down to it, if you thought that helping someone else would put your family at risk, would you still do it even if you saw clearly what was happening around you?  That's a harder question, I realize now.

Of course, the questions I struggle with now are hardly the same as the concept of facing down absolute evil.  But, there are some vague similarities in the concepts anyway.  And, I'm fast concluding that there is more Nazi in me than I would like to admit.

The thing I have realized about myself, or the person I am right now anyway, is that I want to choose my own battles for once.  I spent nearly a decade fighting against The Beast, various addictions and Alzheimer's.  I'm tired, and now, when I had a shot at finally at least not worrying about how many days it was until payday, that rug got completely yanked out from under me.  Does that make me selfish?  Yeah, probably.  But it's where I am currently.  It's not that I want to retire from the world and not participate or make it better in ways that I can.  But, I want to pick and choose, not be picked.  I won't dismiss the argument that this perspective makes me fail the philosophical test I used to ponder as a girl.

I am angry, I won't deny it, and I've made people angry at me. This is all fallout, I know, from the upheavel of the last year. I know this, but I just can't quite extract myself from it. In the end, what I really have learned is that doing the right thing is not easy nor simple. Heck, I can't even figure out what the right thing is! Where is Humphrey Bogart when you need him?

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes it is better to just sit and wait than to act. To quote Clint Eastwood's Drama Teacher: "Don't just do something, STAND THERE!"