The absurd is always with us. Millions moved by 17 deaths in Paris seemed oblivious in the same universe to the greater slaughter in Nigeria. Derisive wit and straight reportage require equal defense as free speech. Jihadist terror, the crowd said is unequivocally evil. There are countless reasons why World II was part two of World War I, yet given the patent evil of Nazism, a necessary, justifiable war. The Bomb, now that it’s here and as long as it doesn’t go off, may not be totally absurd.
There are many absurd reasons why some nations are slow to evolve into democratic republics: Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, China, North Korea, Cuba etc. To not perfect the United Nations in a world screaming for peace and justice — that is absurd. . What happened or had to happen to Jesus was absurd, unless a loving God somewhere operates an alternate universe unknown to us ignorant humans.
It is absurd that human beings cannot at least reduce poverty when we can afford sports tickets, travel and lodging to and from thirty-nine bowl games. Yet guilt over decent, fair pleasure is absurd. To be a spoil sport is absurd.
It is absurd that we let the globe warm despite scientific truth. That we coddle some animals and neglect others is absurd. To scapegoat some political leaders for the follies of Man, that too, is absurd. George Bush and Barack Obama are not the single cause of anything. That either socialism or capitalism has the answer is absurd.
To go on and on with this catalog of absurdity is absurd. Because of absurdity we have religion, philosophy, poetry, drama, literature, music and the Grand Canyon — moments for peace, serenity unity and love. Only love is not absurd.
Wordsworth uses the phrase “in vacant or pensive mood.” He wanders with the daffodils when the mood strikes. My thoughts have turned to my old home place, a large, five-bedroom brick home built on a hillside in the Appalachian foothills of Harrison County, just outside Bowerston, Ohio. The home sits in the center of six acres, an old apple orchard. Outside that plot and ringing it is land owned by a local brick company. Earlier on there were dairy farms. In the far distance as a kid I could see the S-curve on the Panhandle Division of the Pennsy railroad. At night on schedule a flourescent passenger train wound through the Conotton Valley. As did the coal trains on the Wheeling and Lake Erie and Nickel Plate lines. Eighteen miles to the east lay the Hanna coal mines around Cadiz. Over in Scio there was a world-reknowned pottery. We were all company towns in those days. While my elders and relatives made and extracted things from the clay earth, I wondered my hillside where I learned the peace of solitude. And the essential company of dogs.
Thomas Wolf says “You can’t go home again.” Well, I did. I returned to the old place. You can go home again. It was the great pleasure of my life. The acre of lawn I once mowed with an 18-inch push Lawn Boy as a teen, I mowed again with a riding Snapper mower. To heat the old place I obtained an old Ford tractor and manure spreader for a trailer. Weekly I ventured into the woods for fuel. Came very close to cutting off a toe or two. I loved being alone in the woods, but on that occasion I shouldn’t have been. God gave my toes a narrow escape. Harry and I cut some wood together.
Harry came to my aid often — especially on a Christmas Day when our well pump broke. Harry knows everything about how to make things work — especially friendship and helping others.
Back then I took a shot at politics, but chose the wrong party.
I always walked the woods. Later, I cycled the roads where I had to climb steeply to Hanover Ridge, Rumley Ridge and over on to Deersville Ridge. But there were boat rides on Tappan Lake, too, with Danny and Pat from New Philadelphia.
The memories, the love, the friendships abide with me always. These few recollections do not begin to tell the stories of friendships I had in Harrison County,where everyone knows the worth of solitude and company as well. Best ever.