Phthursday Musings: Statement from Port Huron

or, Avoid the giant fireball

I report this week from Port Huron, Michigan. En route I found the Michigan state capitol about to be annihilated by a fireball:

It was a long drive to get here. I calculated that it would be a wash if I drove as opposed to all of the complications associated with flying. I didn’t adequately consider the likelihood that I would be distracted by fireballs. Or, more specifically, by wanting to see the capitol building.

To the best of my recollection I have now seen the capitol buildings up close in Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Vermont, New Hampshire, and West Virginia. Maybe Tennessee too? There’s a lot of weird stuff near the capitol in Tennessee. Gates for spaceships or something.

By far the most beautiful of the ones I’ve seen is in West Virginia. As I understand it when West Virginia broke off from Virginia a lot of money showed up to make a splendid capitol complex in Charleston. It’s been a while but as I remember it, it was… remarkably peaceful. A place that, just in walking around outside, made you feel like great things were possible.

This isn’t exactly something to “collect”, I guess, but whatever. I find these places interesting. I find a lot of places interesting. Even if I don’t really want to go somewhere, or maybe more directly, I don’t want to be away from home, when I’m out and about, if there’s something to be seen, I want to see it.

Anyway, I’m in Port Huron to play golf in the morning, which is all very silly. I haven’t played golf since I was in high school. I will not be good.

Most of the drive here I listened to the Cocaine & Rhinestones podcast. I heartily recommend it. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s Tyler Mahan Coe taking deep, sharp dives into 20th century country music. Season two is largely about George Jones. It’s all been excellent.

Coe approaches his subject matter like this: The music matters, the people who made the music matter, the stories about these people matter, and he’s going to tell them.

Maybe there’s a similar podcast about crochet, or crankshafts, or grape juice. If so, I’d listen to those too. Convince me that these things matter, the people involved matter, and I’m all ears. Hand those stories down.

When the pandemic hit, I mostly stopped listening to podcasts, because I was mostly listening to them at the gym, or possibly in the car, but then I wasn’t going to the gym, or much of anywhere else. I haven’t really picked it back up. I wonder if that will all come back.

I find being on the road very calming. But driving around a metro area isn’t calming. You have to get out on a highway, or better yet a state highway. And just drive, and see things. And listen to a podcast or whatever.

I feel like this isn’t much of a musing, the idea that the road is calming. But it’s an ongoing theme for me. The calm is hard to come by, I guess. It’s not the same as calm at home. At home there’s always something waiting for attention. Laundry, leaves, something. On the road, there’s just the road itself demanding that kind of attention. It’s a different sort of feeling.

If you just sit back and think you can easily get consumed by all kinds of thoughts. But not on the road. It’s the way that it holds a necessary portion of attention but allows for other attention to go to the ears, or whatever else. There’s a balance of thought, maybe.

I’ve been mulling something bigger over. I don’t have it all put together. I thought I might be able to use the trip to make it all fit but it’s not there yet.

It’s about how down so many people are, and how important it is not to get down and stay there. Not that there isn’t good reason for people to have gotten down. The climate news over the last week is really bad, and I think it got presented in a very hopeless way, and I wish it would have been presented differently.

I think the podcast time was helpful though. The idea that all of this stuff matters - well, it does. Even when it seems like maybe nothing at all does. All of it does matter. The human condition is an incredibly odd thing but we get to define what matters and I’ll be damned if we aren’t expansive about doing so!

This week’s musings are thin. Maybe they’re better that way? Maybe this larger mull will reach fruition over the weekend as a separate entry. Or maybe this is the weekend I drop the short story on META-SPIEL. We’ll see.

For now, kids, avoid the giant fireball.