Don Rogers: About the future …
I stood in the pews the last Sunday of the year as the women in the band sang and congregants lifted one hand, some both, while they swayed and sang, too.
The piano player spoke of the world as a dark place with Jesus a shaft of light. Heads nodded. “Amen,” I heard.
I found this sad. I don’t dispute how people look at life. No argument with struggle and longing. Plenty to go around for all of us.
It’s the worldview, I guess. Faith as healing from something, religion as refuge, God as lonely beacon, darkness all around and demons preying on us even as we pray.
I read all the time. In bed for an hour if my iPad doesn’t fall out of my hands first. Brushing my teeth, careful to keep toothpaste and water off the pages. At work, which is mostly reading. Books in my ears when driving, trail running, mowing, stacking wood, scooping poop.
You should experience life, not just read about it, my wife admonishes. But I do that, too, I think. I get out and about.
Reading isn’t a refuge, but the key.
Double doors swung wide into a bright white hall and I was wheeled down it. Cold, small, wearing a gown with a few cloth laces in back.
Here was a journey from warm waiting room and magazines to hospital bed behind a curtain with gently wise-cracking nurses in blue, then down the hall into a room that registered gun metal, all machines and screens.
Country rock played, and a nurse admonished another about bringing up his choice of sandwiches in my presence, patient 5 or 6 this shift, considering the fasting involved with the procedure.
I couldn’t imagine doing this every day. It’s enough at my end once every 10 years, five if they find something beyond a simple snip or two. I wonder if undergoing this procedure early enough would have staved off what killed a friend after a decade of battling.
Before I hit the bumps, before the slope dropped off too steep for my modest skills, pure heaven. I found a run untracked, powder just enough to float my board, let me turn so smooth, flowing.
Only for a few minutes, an eternity in memory, my soul light as my feet. Here’s why some of us rise before the sun, layer up, shiver anyway, endure frozen hands and feet.
Paradise doesn’t have to be a beach. It doesn’t have to be comfortable. If I can push through, there just may be a few heavenly turns like this.
I’ll take whatever bumps may come, tumbles and all, in the quest for the perfect moment.
An old, old man and an old, old woman sat at another table. The toddler at ours had their full attention. I wondered what they were thinking as the boy made voices and banged his plastic demigod Maui against a smaller action figure I’m told is Muana’s father.
The woman smiled. The man appeared too old for expression. He sat, a bit sunken, staring. They talked with each other, ate and moved stiffly, slow, and their attention kept drifting back to the little boy lost in play.
I imagined them reliving their own moments as great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, maybe even as little ones themselves. How much lies in store for the boy, God willing, before he takes his turn staring?
They finished before we did and got up. I waved to the old, old man, who still stared at the boy, expressionless. He waved back.
What do I do exactly, I’m sometimes asked at social gatherings, during Q and A at talks, sometimes by friends. My job title — publisher — is strange, archaic.
So’s my line of work, or may soon be. If so, news in ink on paper had a pretty good run, 450 years. Facebook won’t last but a fraction of that, not at this rate.
Readers aren’t the problem as our online audience swells, but the business itself. We’re hardly alone. Brick-’n’-mortar, banking, taxi service, you name it. And the online-only ventures bloom and fade much faster. America Online, MySpace, Yahoo. Ancient history. Today’s giants are teed up, too.
But 2018 was pretty good for us, at the Sierra Sun as well as The Union. What do I do? Savor the moment, try to keep us all swimming, grateful for the gift. We have too many smart, talented, hard-working peers in the whitewater, dunked under, gone.
What will life be like in the sooner-than-we-think future? When autonomous vehicles drop us off at our workplaces where AI has taken over the office, the kitchen, the fields.
And later, should the robots gain sentience, will they also sing in church, thanking Jesus for their souls?
What do I do? What do we all do? Breathe. Just breathe.
Don Rogers is the publisher of the Sierra Sun and The Union, based in Grass Valley. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-477-4299.