The Writing on the Wall
Under the South First bridge by the hike-and-bike today, I noticed a painted scrawl: "Houses are graves for the living."
It's supposed to get down below 20 degrees later this week.
I did wonder, bemused, at the hand and mind behind that sentiment. I thought of my own house, which I've been so enjoying decorating and claiming as my own space. It's a haven from the world, certainly; you leave for work, or visiting, or errands - or to stroll along the Town Lake hike-and-bike trail - and there is your very own warm house to come back to. You can also welcome friends, a delicious luxury I've been missing for many years. So I can't agree with the sentiment at all, though I suppose matters might be different if you hired Morticia Addams as your interior decorator.
Or Martha Stewart, for that matter.
There was another interesting series of graffiti along the South First bridge pedestrian walkway, on the high wall that separates joggers, hikers, strollers, and bicyclists from automobile traffic. "Fuck the laws," read one message; and fifteen or twenty feet further along, the next one read "Fuck rent," then "Fuck the system," "Fuck the police," and then, rather to my alarm, "Fuck this wall."
I was with the author up till that point - at least in a spirit of gentle sympathy for his possibly somewhat naive ideals. But as a trail regular, I'm a big fan of the wall between Austin traffic and my head. It's a lot easier to fight for your principles when you're not pinned underneath a Smart Car. (The irony factor alone would be fairly overwhelming.)
People have believed, pretty much as long as they've been around, that everything is going to hell in a handbasket. Well, maybe it is - though you'd need a fairly large handbasket, really, and who would even carry the darn thing? Heck if I know. Well, activism, and attempting to raise the awareness of others about causes that concern you, are noble enough. But the last two entries in the Bryl-Cream series on the South First bridge wall were "Think!" and "People wake up! Shit is NOT OK!"
And here's where specificity would come in fairly handy.
Not to argue, not by any means, that there aren't a lot of things in the world that aren't okay. I think it works well when people single out a particular cause (or two or three) to support, espouse it, possibly recruit others, but allow other people to follow their own paths as well. I donate a little money to Planned Parenthood through work; I give blood; I get a little long-winded (given the opportunity) on the importance of allowing nature and human instinct to take their course as much as possible in childbirth and parenting. This is a fairly tiny sliver of the myriad issues that need addressing, but it is a Thing, and it's mine. I think it's important to find your own cause and support it, whatever that may be, unless you're into defacing public property, in which case I feel the police are fully justified in arresting you and providing you some rent-free digs in the city jail; or unless you're trying to get Sarah Palin elected in 2012, in which case I hope you get run over by a Smart Car.