The rhubarb in question.

Where Chris Today introduces himself to Chris Several Months From Now,

Thursday, April 25, 2002
Hi, Chris. You deserve an explanation. Well...it's because of Bewitched.

I liked the show Bewitched as a child. Because it was about magic. Well, partly, since stories about people with magic powers might just be universally appealing to children. But more because every episode demonstrated the moral use of power.

Wait, wait, wait. Bear with me. :)

Samantha the Witch could do whatever she liked. She could've destroyed things. Made herself rich. But she didn't. And, for example, though she could've magicked them away, she still washed her dishes by hand.

Perhaps she found washing them rewarding. Perhaps she perceived it necessary to limit the power she could wield.

Samantha's Dilemma: Is there ever a reason to not use power if it's use won't harm anyone else?

I ponder this dilemma since, well, here I am: male. And American. And college educated. And employed. And by many measures I'm told that I'm the Top of The Food Chain. So, ergo, I'm powerful, right?

Huh. Well, I don't feel powerful..


Sometimes we find power in personal places. In our networks, our families, our markets. And, just for today, I have some power. Quite a bit, really.

And, coincidentally, I'm angry.

The power and anger are related.

So...now what?

Well - how do I usually learn to behave? Other than previous personal experience, my Dad has had a significant influence on my behavior. Y'know: positive male role model and all that. Which has led to some challenges as I suss out some of his more inscrutable behavior.

For example, when things got quiet, he'd suddenly ask, "Y' think the rain's gonna hurt the rhubarb?"

And, seeing as it wasn't raining and there were no rhubarb plants for miles, anyone in earshot would just look at him, bemused. :)

Just for the record: For those that know (Hi, Dad!) - I suspect Dad's non-sequiturs, aren't. They may evince his love and concern for all of us: his family or friends or students. The apparently nonsensical phrases often seem to revolve around complex interrelationships, dependencies, and how to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

But, I've realized something else. (While looking at my scarred fists typing, typing, typing.)

At times exclamation might be involuntary. As if a verbal emetic was suddenly injected into us. And the exclamation might be confusing or injurous - personally and otherwise - and no more constructive than yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theatre.

So, one choice could be to verbalize a bit of surreality as an alternative to saying something that might cause personal harm.

Which relates to my earlier problem about power. You see:

I want the anger to dissipate.

I need to protect myself from further abuse.

I realize most people view life as a zero-sum game and, when suddenly given power, strike to win.

Which is what I've normally done. But, I want to try something different this time:

I'm going to throw the game. I choose to lose.

Because not using that power allows me to retain a hopeful disposition. As in, I hope that one wrong doesn't lead to two or more other wrongs.

But maybe I'm choosing poorly. And I'm led by a creative disposition to personify Doubt. I think Doubt rests comfortably beneath the soft palette, waiting, and leaps out from our lips at the remotest chance for consolation, thereby releasing all that tension and self-pity. But remembering Dad as a younger man, I have a different solution in mind when regarding my intentional loss...

Because I like people. Particularly, people who are not involved with my personal or professional challenges. And people often feel compelled to ask, "How are you doing?"

And now I, determined not to insecurely blurt an excuse (while feeling the itch in my throat and the doubt of The Choice), will instead be inspired to say:

"I'm a little worried about the rhubarb.

What d'ya think? Do y' think the rain's gonna hurt the rhubarb?"

Absurdly convinced that I am winning by losing,