A Better Time? When?

It’s been so cold I’ve powered on the elliptical trainer. I prefer running through my neighborhood, in sunshine, observing people, reading bumper-sticker messages, and breathing fresh air.

I was on the exerciser, though, and consumed enough by the monotony (groan) to glance OFTEN at the mounting minutes. I was thinking about cutting the workout short but, instead, decided to reverse and go backwards. Backwards, backwards, my legs worked, and, suddenly, I was struck by a thought–the possibility that I could continue this redirection and undo time. I could accelerate the pace until the mile display indicated a negative as I ellipti-seized the past. Faster and faster, I would retreat to a place in my life that carried the promise of fullness, satisfaction, those days when the children were young and more was right in my world.

Finally, I went to a year when days and nights included people who no longer are with me, a time when thoughts of the future brought excitement but no longing, no question of the reality of why something occurred the way it did, or why it had even happened, at all. Moving backwards on the trainer, I had an exquisite feeling of holding tightly to days before certain changes affected my life, the way I live, and my perceptions.

Faster, faster, faster, I worked my legs, still going backwards. But this isn’t a comfortable motion. It isn’t natural. Legs move forward.

Life moves forward.

Or stops.

With this, I ended the fantasy of time traveling to an acceptable past and, instead, moved to the unacceptable present–not merely entering my small world but this large place of division and deception that’s impacting each of us.

We carry the enormous blood burden of U.S. vampire-ialism.

Deployed troops are separated from their families, killing other human beings in occupations sold to a terrified nation by war-loving liars after an attack on our soil that was never investigated honestly. The war in Afghanistan is the longest in our history. Iraq is still exploding, and drones are incinerating civilians in Pakistan. The suicide rate among veterans is soaring, PTSD goes untreated, and Pentagon health plans will not cover therapy for the brain injured.

American military commanders in Afghanistan are advocating an expansion of Special Operations in Pakistan. President Obama is hiring additional mercenaries for the Middle East and Africa. Both decisions will inspire acts of violence, resulting in acts of violence. But, then, war always cycles brutality.

Israel continues settlement building (the peace process is pass?) on stolen Palestinian land, while we foot Zionism’s tab.

Our economic foundation is gossamer. Trillions of taxpayer dollars have been handed to fascist/banksters here and abroad. It is damn near impossible to grasp the amount, damn near impossible to conceptualize the figures in a world of cyber financial transactions, and damn near impossible to predict what will happen next.

This truth is obvious: members of the uber upper don’t spread their wealth down. Even in trickles. They prefer a lateral pass. The swindlers who gluttonously abuse their positions should be prosecuted. Instead, they are stocking their accounts with end-of-year bonuses.

Apparent, too, is the growing chasm between the rich and the working poor. The class that bears the weight of labor has little. American Dreamland is the province of the wealthy.

I keep asking myself if there was a time when life was better, for everyone. It’s the “for everyone” that’s problematic. I can’t think of when that might have been.

Missy Beattie lives in Baltimore. She can be reached at missybeat@gmail.com.




Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com