Sunday, October 31, 2004


I never did get around to writing about this Fall's Friends of the Library sale. Oh, well. The only thing worth mentioning about at this late date is one aquisition: a graphic novel called When the Wind Blows by Raymond Briggs. It was published in 1982 and tells the tale of a retired couple in the English countryside and their "survival" of a nuclear attack. It tugs at the heartstrings, as you alternate between chuckling at the patter of the "very married" couple and lamenting their ignorance in the face of death. I bought it mostly out of nostalgia, in memory of the ancient 80s, when the boogy-man was a Soviet ICBM aimed at your city. I had a slight nuclear anxiety back in the day. I had read a book about how to survive a nuclear war (assuming you didn't get smoked in the explosion, of course) and had half-heartedly filled some empty Pepsi botlles with water and stored them in my bedroom. But I didn't take the whole thing too seriously, being busy with life and all. Had they nuked Chicago back then, I probably would have been just as dead as Jim and Hilda in the story. The only difference is that I would have been aware of why I was feeling ill and losing my hair.

Anyway, like I said, I now read When the WInd Blows with an air of nostalgia. There probably still is some sort of ICBM pointed at me, but like most folks, I don't worry about it too much. (Living closer to ground zero undoubtedly helps.) Today, the boogy-man is terrorists. Agents of evil who seek to kill me and mine with dirty nukes, biological weapons, smuggled explosives or a simple sword to my neck. I'm even less worried about them. Part of that is the same old excuse--too busy with life and all--part of it is a greater cynicism about life. Yeah, ol' Mr. Taliban is gonna soak the streets with my blood. That's assuming that a drunk driver or a mugger or a tainted hamburger or some other threat doesn't get me first. There's an amzing amount of things that can go wrong with one's life. Or to put a more positive spin on it, if God wants me to die now, I'm dead; if not, there's absolutely nothing you can do to change it.

And that holds for the other boogy-men of our times, be they four more years of the Bush administration, gay marriage, global warming, corporate globalization (or is that global corporatization?), high property taxes or copyright violations in the music industry. One can take some precautions against them, but they're all things that are pretty much out of an individual's control. The trick is not to let them kill your spirit, even if they threaten your body. People have survived all sorts of tsuris in the past, shall we do any less?