Human contact is not all what they make it out to be.
Memorial weekend is half over.
This means that by Wednesday, most of the remaining snowbird geezers will have cleared out. My isolated corner of South Florida will again be mine.
Between the heat and humidity and the clouds of no-seeums, hardly anyone comes by my neck of the woods now — which is literally where I live — any more.
Few golf cart drivebys.
Ditto bicycle, power walking, or dog-walking assholes infesting the circle in the cul-de-sac where my villa is located.
What a difference from when it’s in season, when transient geezers love to make their unwanted (to me) presence felt.
Because people in general, like the swarms of tourists who will instagram Europe this summer, like to gawk.
But now, at last, near complete privacy is nigh.
This is of course a misanthrope’s paradise.
My 80lb German Shepherd, the one with the fierce teeth, keeps eternal vigil.
Anyone who dares come too close gets the business.
Just the way I like it.
I have not trained her to do so, but she will not tolerate anyone coming near me or the house unless I explicitly let her know that I allow it. She is like a living ADT alarm system that goes wherever I go. More than just an alarm, she will bite your arm off if you make one false move in my direction.
This morning I woke up early as usual and played my accoustic guitar outside in the lanai that is attached to the back of my house. Suddenly the songbirds in the forest around me started up, almost like a choral backing to my strumming.
The world is continuing on with whatever it does… all the usual storm and fury that, as usual, signifies nothing — at least to me.
I am now completely insulated from the need to respond to anything or anyone, unless it is on my terms.
My focus is very simple.
Lose weight, and fix up the new house I bought.
Nothing else matters.
I don’t care if the US federal budget bill is going to be passed, or some attorney general in Texas has been impeached, or how the Ukraine war is going, or which film won the Palme D’Or this year.
I don’t care if DeSantis is down in the pols or Trump is going to be arrested or party boy Boris is having in trouble again or if Erdogan is going to be reelected.
I have almost completley detached — from everything.
My ideas of being au courant is to skim newspaper headlines online.
Instead, I read books on Arabic language philology, a subject I find fascinating.
In that regard, the application of koranic textual material to chatbots is of interest. What would the ulama make, for example, of an AI that blasphemously spouts out authentic sounding ayas? Would it shake their belief in the miraculous nature and provenance of their holy text? Will the day come when fatwas are issued against ChatGPT? The possibilities of a novel — dedicated to Salman Rushdie of course — that imagines and plays out such a scenario are too delicious to ignore.
Such questions aside, I also listen to commercial-free XM Sirius radio when driving my dog to the beach, cook healthy natural meals for my wife and I, and am gradually intensifying my workout regimen.
I have finally reached a stage in my life where it matters not one iota to me what the world does — payback, I supposed, for a lifetime spent in obscurity, where what I thought, felt, wanted, and hoped for was ignored by society at large.
A lifetime were I was constantly reminded — as most of us are — of how inconsequential I was to everyone else.
A lifetime where preening assholes big and small tried to strut their crap at my expense, always trying to remind me, directly or indirectly, that they were the ones who truly mattered.
And now, at the end of the day, they can drown in their endless, pointless, self-serving bullshit. There are notable exceptions, of course. Ezra Klein is always worth a read, such as his latest piece, on AI, which contains the haunting sentences: “Human beings really did lose faculties of memory we once had.” Imagine if somehow we started to remember that which we once forgot.
But the preponderance of intellectual troglodytes can be safely ignored.
How enormously liberating it is to have the luxury of being able to focus exclusively on just the things that actually matter to me. It is akin to granting oneself a MacArthur genius award.
Knowing that oceans of tears are unlikely to be shed when I eventually die, I am absolutely free to pursue whatever I want whenever I want on my own terms without having to justify this to anyone.
The deer, the tree frogs singing at dusk for mates, the woodpeckers tapping away like jackhammers, the eagles, bobcats and the boar — abundant in the preserve that surrounds me — are a thousand times more interesting than anything on TV.
Freedom, real freedom, is needing no one else.
It’s not simply self-reliance.
It is not just not having to suck up to some controlling boss, or feeling compelled by underlying instinct or need to chase another person for some sort of reward or validation.
Instead, I am pursuing the deliberate and final severance of all but the most necessary, minimal human contact.
I suppose that is one possible path to provisional contentment: not caring anymore about anything any one else thinks and independently doing your thing, whatever that may be — so long as it harms no one else, and doesn’t get all weird from too-much-time-alone.