Saturday, February 25, 2012

Just Wondering

   On a quiet Saturday in February, my mind wanders as I wonder.  I’ve spent a large part of the morning wondering if it’s possible to know when the mind ceases to wander:  “(of the mind, thoughts, desires, etc.) to take one direction or another without conscious intent or control;” and when it begins to wonder: “to think or speculate curiously.”  But now I’m wondering if curiosity is a preresiquate to thinking and speculating. It seems to me it is, which leads me to wonder if the lexicographer was overcome by redundancy when he tacked “curiously” to the definition.
   I’ve also done a lot of wandering about winter. I was wandering, I’m sure, because my thoughts were beyond of my control, each one a random photo of some winter past. I neither pondered nor speculated as I watched the mental montage. But after wandering for an hour, I began to wonder.
   March is four days away, but by the meteorological standards of northeast Ohio, January and February have been no-shows. There has been more rain than snow this season, and frigid Arctic air masses and Alberta Clippers seemed to have been detoured. Poor Mark Johnson, Channel 5’s panicky weatherman. In winters past, he was a regular feature on Jeopardy, shoving Alex aside to tell viewers the snow would be up to their keesters by morning and the temperature so low the South Pole would be balmy by comparison. This winter, Mr. Johnson’s updates have been confined to standard promos during commercial breaks, and he hasn’t once looked like he was about to wet his pants.
   All this has led me to speculate curiously about the approach of March, and why it feels different this year. The best thing that can be said about March in a typical year is that it’s not January or February. By March first of most years, winter is an aging boxer, still able to deliver a powerful punch, but no longer able to sustain the attack. The storms in March can be as bad as those earlier in the season, but the snow disappears in a day or two because winter is wobbly by then and must retreat for a while in order to catch its breath. That, along with a few early arriving robins and the more fool hardy than hardy daffodils and crocuses, seem to say, “You’ve survived this long; a few more weeks and it will be over.”
   I’m wondering now because this year I’m dreading March. Judging from the months that preceded it, March 2012 should come in like a lamb and go out like something much, much better. Yet, whenever I either wander or wonder about this March, the feeling isn’t “winter is almost over,” it’s “winter is about to strike with a vengeance.” Which leads me to wonder if January and February would have been more pleasant if I had spent more time enjoying what was and less time speculating curiously about winter weather yet to come.
   It has started to snow, but instead of wandering about winter, I’m wondering about the folks who write headlines at the Plain Dealer. Today’s feature story in the Art & Life section is headlined “Marilyn: Like her beauty, our love for her never fades.” That’s awfully presumptuous of the copy editor, isn’t it? Perhaps his or her love for Marilyn is undying, but mine isn’t. In fact, I’m not sure I ever loved her. I’m pretty sure I lusted after her, but when she died I was almost fourteen and spent a good part of each day lusting indiscriminately. If Marilyn is reading this from the great beyond, I hope she isn’t shocked to find out that my lust had nothing to do with her being special, and everything to do with my being an adolescent male and her being female.
   But I have wandered away from what I was wondering about. A headline in the Arts & Life section is pretty harmless. But what about stories about polls with headlines such as “We think” this or that. We don’t all think whatever fifty-one percent or more of those polled think. The rest of us have our own opinions. I wonder if I should resent being told what “we” think. Of course, it might be better if I just went along with what “we” think. It seems that every time I wonder – think or speculate curiously – the results are curious, indeed.

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