I don't like to write a lot of personal stuff here. For one thing, it's to easy for a blog to become more of an ego trip than it already is.
For another thing, and please don't take offense, I'd rather that you, the reader, know as little as possible about me. Not because I don't like you, or trust you - it's just that I'm not that interesting, and if you find out how ordinary I really am you won't want to read the stuff I write!
But I'll break that rule, for today.
The last two years have been tough. My academic career came to an abrupt, and undesired end in 2011. The story's not important, but picking up the threads again is not possible. I've forgiven those responsible. This was hard, but necessary, because anger was consuming me, and destroying my soul.
Added to that, my health has deteriorated to the point where death itself is a constant companion. I can feel its hand, from time to time, as the perceived world fades, and something else begins to form in my vision. I'll learn the answer to the mysteries soon, I guess.
But in the process, writing and doing freelance welding and metalwork as I'm able, I've lived a strange life. I'm alone most of the time, with very little contact with 'the world'. There are no co-workers, there's no conversation in the lunch room, and even email 'conversations' have become few and far between.
It's been a kind of hermitage, a chance to look at life from a very different perspective, taking time to sit on the bank of time's river. The world has swirled past, its pleasure-barges and war-canoes, its houseboats and keelboats and flotsam.
It's a weird world, when you're no longer a part of it.
You can carry the accumulated wisdom of the world at your fingertips, in a phone connected to the Internet. You can communicate, instantly, with anyone, anywhere. Most people use this ability to look at pictures of cats, and tell whoever's listening what they had for breakfast.
Trucks are sold to suburbanites who fancy themselves construction workers, in desperate need of a vehicle that will haul boulders up muddy hills. While, in the back seat, their children watch Barney the Purple Dinosaur on a DVD player.
My last truck didn't have a back seat. It had a fuel tank that would cheerfully immolate me in an accident.
We watch Reality TV that describes life that's as unreal as marriage rites on Mars. Who, among you, would have anything to discuss with the 'cast' of 'Honey Boo Boo'?
During this time I've fed my heart and soul on Stephen Ambrose's world, and the counterpoint has been sharp and telling. I can understand, I think, the ethos of an old world at war.
I'm an alien in a modern world at peace.
Yes, I'm writing this on a computer, and will soon post it through the Internet. But these are tools. I don't feel defined by using them, much less defined by my sharing 2013 with their ascendancy.
When I return to the world of today, I think I will keep one foot firmly planted in the past. 'American Idol' will pass me by, and I'll never carry a 4G or 5G phone. G's are what you pull when looping an airplane, anyway.
And I'll maintain the readiness for War, with its requirement to keep sane values against a background of madness as a bulwark against becoming the madness.
Peace, as I see it today, sucks.