The End of
by Elva Avara of Pascagoula, Mississippi
They have managed, in the last decade, to turn down the volume - to stop some of the excess - to get rid of the highs and lows that have always been with us. We don’t have to live with people, or things, that won’t stay on an even keel. Not any more.
Time was that we had to put up with a manic presence once in a while – we had to watch that flight of spirit that must go on and on to reach the groove, that sacred plateau where good is great, and great is getting greater all the time. That was always followed, of course, by the low. The lower-than-low, bluer-than-blue, the bottom. That kind of sit-on-the-side-of-the-bed-and-weep pit that took everyone down with it.
But no more. We have pills for that now. Capsules or injections - they level us, we mellow out. We glide along - without a tear - but perhaps without a song, either.
We are doing it to the children, too. The wild kid who would not listen, sit still, be polite, be teachable, the trouble-maker your mom and mine did not want us to become - that child is turned down, he has become ordinary, unremarkable. Get his pills down before 10 a.m., and you have a small breeze, where there once was a tornado. Now what will moms not want their children to become?
We don’t like persons who won’t be still, who color out of the lines. People who are overwrought, who cut off their ears, or hear music that does not exist - they don’t fit in. These people often forget to pay their bills, to comb their hair, to bathe, even. Not suitable for modern community life.
We don’t even want our stock market running off with our averages. We put curbs in place, smooth out the highs and lows. Line up with yesterday and tomorrow. Even in business, good behavior is the only behavior that we find acceptable.
Out plants have been calmed down too. My dad had a wisteria bush with which he fought all his life. He dug it up, took it across the road, burned it, and poured poison on the spot where it had sprung up. Its response was to come up all over his lawn, climb all over the porch (pulling up the columns from their bases) and to run up all the pines across the road. It lives today, long after he has gone; I think it might ultimately cover the world with its unspeakably beautiful blue-lavender self, its fragrance spreading like a cloud above us all.
Now my neighbor has a nice calm wisteria bush - the product of genetic engineering I suppose - growing placidly and evenly on the lawn, never grasping about and clinging like some cloying lover.
I am sure all of this is progress, but somehow I miss the hurry, the yelling, the fidgeting, the growing, the bi-polarness, the difference of it all, don’t you?
I am so afraid they will discover a medicine for youth - an anti-exuberant - or a treatment for religion, a zeal-blocker, or a cure for writers, a story splitter, or an idea thinner.
I won’t take it, even if they do.