Thursday, July 05, 2007

4th of July

This 4th was unique, I'll give it that.

For most of the past decade, I've spent the 4th out at Marc's cabin on Lake Tapps, just south of Auburn. The spot is hard to beat. It is at the tip of a peninsula on the north side of the lake, pretty much the perfect spot to see the fireworks happening from all around the lake; and then the big show at the end of the night.

We've had some pretty memorable 4th's out there, usually involving us blowing something bigger and better up. We'd save our change all year and go to either the Tulailip or Muckleshoot Indian Reservations to buy fireworks. One time Marc walked up to a stand and the shady looking Native American behind the counter asked, "Over the counter, or under the counter?"

Marc turned to me, smiled, and said, "Under the counter."

I remember that little hidden box the dealer pulled out. Cherry bombs, half-sticks of dynamite... and bigger. We got a cherry bomb and a half-stick.

But that was back in the hay-day of illegal fireworks buying, where they had trouble even giving the stuff away. But over the past six years or so, dumb kids (and adults) keep blowing themselves to bits every 4th of July. This has led to a big crackdown on the fireworks that can actually do some damage. A decade ago, I remember buying 20 M-80s for $20. And I even got the guy to throw in some sparklers for free. Those same 20 M-80s would be worth their weight in gold today. They just can't be found anymore.

Whatever police agency was responsible for cracking down on fireworks made their presence known, and shut stands down in a hurry. Those stands lost tens of thousands of dollars in revenue. The sellers caught on quick, and stopped selling the good stuff entirely.

Ever since the crackdown, I've lost interest in setting off fireworks. I don't really think it was entirely due with the crackdown, but the crackdown definitely didn't help. Sort of like playing $10/$20 NL six-max poker regularly, then dropping down to $1/$2 limit. The wind in your sail is nowhere to be found.

The past few years, fireworks have taken a back seat for me on the 4th. When I think 4th of July, I don't think patriotism or yippee! fireworks! I think heading home to Seattle, seeing friends, and playing in the best frisbee tournament in the world: Potlatch. And I've had an amazing amount of fun returning to Seattle for the 4th since graduating college.

But this year seemed strikingly different than past 4th of July's for me. This is the first 4th of July I've been by myself. I think for the past 10-15 years I've either watched the show with family or friends. Being alone for the 4th is kind of weird. Like New Years, 4th of July is probably the next closest time I just want to have someone to hold close and share the moment with.

I remember a few years watching the fireworks out at Lake Tapps, right around the end of high school / beginning of college. I'd be having a blast the entire day and on into the night shooting off fireworks, but when everyone gathered out at the point to watch the big fireworks show, I felt something missing. Grandma had Grandpa, a few of Marc's aunts and uncles would scoot their chairs closer together, and the younger couples would snuggle close. I wanted in on that, and I think I've really only experienced it once or twice in my life. Along with the fireworks on the 4th and New Years, I could sit close to my girl and watch every sunrise and sunset of the year and not get bored.

Finding a girl that would want to do that, and also fall into other desirable categories for me isn't the easiest thing in the world. My team of 100 chimpanzees have been compiling the data, and I think I've really only gotten to know one girl (maybe two) in my life that I could envision grabbing a big blanket and heading up to a knoll and watching fireworks or the sunrise for the rest of my life. And she's married.

The biggest problem seems to be that the type of girl who likes to do the wholesome things I like to do, also tends to have a strong faith in God (and a chimp just whispered in my left ear, "Republican, too!"). I won't say being a Republican isn't bad, but I can say that about faith in God. I have no problem at all with Christians, Catholics, Muslims--you name the religion, I have no problem with it. I just have a very hard time seeing myself marrying a religious person. If I did, that religious person would have to share my questioning nature. And, not trying to sound like an ignoramus, "faith" to me tends to involve stopping the questions, and believing in something without proving or questioning it--and that isn't something I'm really willing to do.

Speaking of religion, Christianity to me is a lot like the USA. In theory, I can't agree more. Treat everyone like your brother--sounds great to me. Let freedom ring, equality for all--hallelujah! Brainwash the young into loving Jesus by having them color his portrait in--no thanks. Let women earn roughly 75 cents to every dollar a male earns at the same job, and have a Senate comprised of nearly all old, white men--I fail to see the equality.

I could get off-track in a hurry, so I'll stop there.

Standing on the top of a hill overlooking the amazing display of fireworks at Lake Tahoe, a few other thoughts entered my head. What an amazing motivator the fireworks and music are on the 4th of July. If I was overseas, "fighting for my country" and saw a fireworks display and heard Ray Charles "America the Beautiful" or other patriotic songs playing in the background, I could see myself tear up. I could see myself renewed with energy that the country I'm fighting for is the best country in the world.

Then I thought to myself--wouldn't the best country to live in be a country that didn't need to spend millions of dollars on fireworks and emotional songs to remind you that you live in the best country? I might be patriotic for that day, or the next week--but what about the other 51 weeks? It just seemed a little bit like the "We Are The Champions" song.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm going to continue to love fireworks. They make me think, and they are very aesthetically pleasing. But I don't think I'm ever going to stop questioning. I wonder what people are thinking who are watching the fireworks and have loved ones overseas. If I was in that scenario, I think the only thing going through my mind would be to hope as hard as I could that the loved one gets home safely. Bashing the Bush Administration wouldn't even be worth the energy for me, because I know it wouldn't bring that loved one back any sooner.

In a different time and setting, I think my views would change. I've lived nearly my entire life in a big safety blanket. No wars close to home, and honestly--no real reason to be patriotic. During WWII, I could see thinking differently. Somebody has to stop the Nazis. In that case, it seems like there is a clear evil, and as much as I would hope for a loved one (or myself) to get back from overseas alive--I would realize there are more important things than my love one's life. If I, or my loved one, has to sacrifice their life so Nazi Germany doesn't take over the world--so be it.

When you, or the corporations that you've helped breed, rule the world already, the same type of motivation doesn't work on me as it might have during WWII.

I suppose that is enough ranting for one post. Shucks. I am up at the Truckee Book and Bean shop again, ready for some high-quality pickup frisbee in 15 minutes or so. The motorcycle ride up here was amazing, and I missed my ninja up in Seattle.

OK, a little more--there is another thing I that actually occurred to me on my walk back from watching the fireworks last night. I was walking back in the dark, on a dirt path behind my house, and I realized that it wouldn't be too far-fetched for a bear or cougar to leap out and me and take me out. Walking alone through the forest at night, with no flashlight, probably isn't the smartest thing in the world to do. I realized then that even this slight change to my psyche changed what I cared about.

When your life is on the line, you don't really care much about riding your motorcycle or playing frisbee on a gorgeous day. You care about living. There are plenty of people in the world right this moment that fear for their life, I'd wager thousands in every continent (save Antarctica?). One might argue a life lived without worrying about whether or not you'll wake up the next day is better. You probably have a lot more fun, and get to ride motorcycles and make art and relax. If you're fearing for your life, you probably don't have much time to relax. That, and I don't think it is feasible for everyone in the world to live like we do in the USA. I'm pretty sure that's been proven, and we'd need the resources of five planets for everyone on Earth to live like us.

Recycle, bitches. Oh, and use less shit.

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Blogger Megan said...

Awesome post, Chris.

9:22 PM  

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