I don’t know what comes next.
I really don’t. I’m not finding the unity that I sought, though I’m meeting and chatting with some amazing people. A ton of amazing people, but let’s focus on the pre-arranged interviews. Each of these folks will get their time in the sun when I edit the awesome audio I’ve collected into podcasts, but here’s a preview.
First, the people behind the Buffalo Bill Cody Center of the West. Their interviews reinforced my feeling that the division I’m feeling in America is real, and that at this point, it’s driving itself. Partisan politics for the sake of partisanship, for power (real or imagined), and not really based on any ideological or political ideals. But is this really new, or has it been around for ages — maybe even since our country was founded?
Next, the fiberglass artist behind Salem Sue, the Hayward walk-in musky, and so many more. He reinforced my belief that it’s all personal. For most people, their political leanings aren’t based on what they think is best for the downtrodden, or for the earth. Their worldview is based on things that have impacted them and their loved ones directly – a coal mine closing, a marriage that went south. And if you feel disdained or looked down on by “the other side,” you push hard in the opposite direction.
Finally, Rock City’s owner, who reminded me that it’s all a business. Sweet, intelligent, and a tiny bit guarded, all his responses led back to business. He’s found great success by following a thread that seems sentimental, by honoring the work of the generations of his family that have come before, but it’s all in the spirit of creating a successful, profitable, family-friendly attraction.
I don’t know what comes next. I don’t know where I’m going.
Well okay, technically, I’m going to New Jersey and Lucy the Margate Elephant comes next, but that’s not what I mean.
I’ve lost the storyline. I had everything so perfectly crafted before I left town; I was seeking this and this, and I would have this epiphany at this point.
Phlbbt. Out the window. Which is a bit scary, but hopefully freeing?
My planned story, you see, included many strangers along the way, and I forgot that they can change things… I only have power over myself, and I need to think some more about what that means.
Because those strangers are being persnickety and not fitting tidily into my narrative. So I have to sit back and let them drive (and they are a rowdy bunch who rarely agree with each other), or I need to find my own personal narrative and let them pop in from time to time. We’ll see.