Fixing Things

“When I think about the most wearying thing about becoming middle-aged, it’s that you are the only one who can fix things – there is no one you can complain to, or seek comfort from; for you are the grown-ups, now, and if you can’t fix it, it will remain broken.”

Caitlin Moran, More Than a Woman

We’d probably have more luck fixing things if we could agree on what is broken. Is it capitalism? Is it government? Is it the stories we tell, or won’t tell?

The Desiderata assures us the universe is unfolding as it should, which is a statement of faith, not fact. Moreover, the universe isn’t broken, doesn’t require maintenance.

We do.

There’s nothing sexy about maintenance, which is why nobody gets excited about doing it. Daily upkeep, tending, noticing. Things fall apart and need to be put back together. That’s the work, whether household, bridge, beachfront high-rise, or the relationship that might be salvaged with the help of a qualified counselor. Who wants to invest in preserving what is, when the possibility of what might be is so tantalizing, so sparkly and alluring?

Speaking of which, if all goes according to plan, billionaire Richard Branson goes “into space” today, his sub-orbital space plane carrying him 55 miles above the surface of the Earth for an hour, at a cost of who knows how much. Ten days from now, billionaire Jeff Bezos will ride his own space plane into a somewhat higher orbit. An auction for the seat beside him topped out at $28 million.

It calls to mind an ad council poster from my youth, featuring a photograph of a man in rags in an unkempt bed, with the caption, “Can we afford to explore the heavens when there is still a hell on Earth?”

Don’t @ me, I grew up with Star Trek and I’m fascinated by the stars, too. But it’s a question we should continue to ask, if only to acknowledge that there are choices.

Far be it from me to tell anyone how to spend their money.

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