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The Thaddeus Gazette

Regrets Only

So here's me, being 70. Naturally, being also hooman, I've somewhere along the line lost the capacity to understand the passage of time, and concepts like "40 years ago" are pretty much equivalent to "last spring."

People wonder at this effect, but it makes perfect sense to me. While our durations as corporal entities keeps getting longer and longer, the buffer into which we dump the memory track we imperfectly recall from longterm storage remains the same size it had grown to when our brains stopped developing, long about 25 or so. Thus, 40 years or six months seems like the same length of time. Once you reach the parallax limit, everything looks the same distance away.

O'course, that's a real cute story Mister President, but it leans way hard on the precept that internal observation, meditation or whatnot, can provide real insight into the real functioning of the real brain really, which is sadly lacking in evidence. For all we know or can objectively determine, we might as well all be living in that giant sensorium in the sky that the singularity nerds keep drooling over. It's just another Can You Really Prove That You're Here? Didn't Think So dormroom discussion. Any consistant functional fluff you can tease out of your virtual navel is at best analogy, an observational model of an observational process.

But trapped under glass in the museum of my neurons though I might be, some glitches of perception are still available for my dissection and amendment. Rather than be reduced to yet another old fart arguing with clouds, no matter how dignified and socially approved an occupation, I prefer the perilous attempt to make some sense of my precarious perch on the brink of the black pit of senility. The view may not be quite as awesome as it was at 17, but it has its own rough charms.

Delusions of age abound, of course. There's Everything Was Better When I Was Young, Including Me, and its illegitimate stepbrother You're Doing It Wrong. Right next door we have the mausoleum of regrets, CouldaShouldaWouldaland. And just in the past few years the reptilians have been banging away on the Scary Lies Amusement Park right across the street. Just ignore the screams, fokes, they're really screams of laughter!

Venture out of the red-light district, though, and legitimately strange and wonderful things can be found. Magic elastic memories are just scratching the surface. That long view can also provide historical context.

The other night at that manageable travesty of the Age Of Covid, a Zoom acoustic open mike, one of the participants rared back and threw down a pretty energetic cover of the Steven Stills song "Love The One You're With." Now, I'm a biggish CSN&Y fan and a much bigger Buffalo Springfield admirer, and I applauded dutifully. And then I put in,"Fours stars, but with a caveat: that song did not age well." There was a moment of bewildered silence, and then someone else responded, "Yeah, but who of us have?"

Um, well. There's a lotta crabbing these days about what is termed Cancel Culture, the tendency of even the most well--meaning of progressives to completely write off some feckless wonder with a mouth on them for some thing or other that they said or wrote or tweeted or made a podcast about or posted twenty seven videos on YouTube about that one time. It's just not fair! they crab.

And actually, no, sometimes it's not. But a lotta the time at least a touch of opprobrium regarding questionable content is right on and direly needed. Things are never gonna change unless those of us who actually care enough to try to make things better start drawing a few lines with those who can't be assed to. And if their poor fragile feelings get crumpled a teense in the process, too bad.

The point here is, our culture in its entirety is far less ignorant than it used to be. Attitudes that used to be so commonplace that they never even got a second glance are starting to smell ripe and grow hair. And not, you know, nice hair. Times, to be brief, have in fact done changed.

And joyfully, that includes little old me. Despite my genteel upbringing and generous doses of Mama Tried, I entered early manhood with any number of untoward (and frankly, herein to remain nameless — I have some discretion) fallacies of thought that were subsequently beaten the bejessus out of me by the stinging blows of time and adversity and a few good friends who cared enough to give the very best. I've never claimed to be a fast learner, although I sometimes portrayed one, in high school anyways, but I have managed to pick up a thing or two over the past 50 odd years.

Which practical education leaves me vulnerable to one of the least desirable funrides of codgerdom, the Tunnel Of Look Back In Abject Embarrassment. Five stupid minutes fifty years past can sit on my shoulder like a particularly unpleasant pirate's parrot shrieking PRICK! PRICK! YOUWEREA PRIIIIICK! leaving me no recourse except to wait until the filthy creature deigns to fly off to torment somebody else.

Luckily, in my vast experience with the Blue-Crowned Conure Of Abject Recrimination, I've developed a strategy to stave off self-criticism, (which if we're being absolutely honest here serves no useful purpose, since the event in question is already down the drain of yesterday and no longer available for amendment or editing): I imagine myself in the vasty antechamber to heaven, under examination prior to my judgement, seated in the Mile-high Chair whilst Gawd Heself extends His Mile-long Finger at me and booms YOU DID THIS. And all I do is respond yes, yes I did. I was there and I remember it well and yes, I did that. And I'm sorry.

And for some reason, that's enough.

Grow old along with me! The best, what was I saying?

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