Catskill Waiting

Catskills epiphany

We’re back from the Catskills and all they imply. One of the more obvious implications was a lack of internet access – one of the many reasons I like to frequent remote locations. I had planned this little get-away with some vague hopes of enlightenment of some kind. The quote from Melville in my last post is more than just nice prose; it is the essence of spiritual striving. I know those aren’t scientific words, but they embody the spirit of several nineteenth century American novelists I’ve read and reread. I did see a Catskill eagle while there, but I returned home still seeking an epiphany.

While briefly away from the constant demands of teaching, the bigger picture starts to come into focus. We visited Ellenville on the day of their Wild Blueberry and Huckleberry Festival – we’d just picked huckleberries ourselves in the mountains outside town – and religious groups were represented aplenty. I had noticed the many churches in this rural region, and one of the feters handed me a tract that informed me “If you have said ‘Yes’ to these three questions [have you ever sinned, lied, or stolen] (by your own admission), you are a lying, thieving, adulterer at heart; and we’ve only looked at three of the Ten Commandments.” And also, John Lennon is dead. Nothing like a little self-righteous judgment with your blueberry pie. Sirens began to blare and a fair-goer collapsed and had to be airlifted to a regional hospital. It was very dramatic.

This is where the big picture came in. When there is an accident, we take astounding measures to save the injured, suffering, or wounded. A fair-goer flown by life-flight to the hospital. At the same time, our society condones, encourages even, an unemployment scenario where even highly trained individuals are cut off from health care and self-esteem as well as income. Left to die a quiet death of desperation. As long as we don’t have to see it, death by redundancy is sanitary and sanctioned. Has this great society ever sinned, lied, or stolen? I have seen that Catskill eagle and I am still awaiting an epiphany.

5 thoughts on “Catskill Waiting

  1. Henk van der Gaast

    The question begs..whats bad with lying and adultery? Aren’t we supposed to be primates?

    Thievery is just a poor short cut to a lousy self image.

    I suppose I would have to be a rap musician to talk about false pretences.


  2. Jim W.

    Steve you actually made me LOL (for real) with this one:

    “Nothing like a little self-righteous judgment with your blueberry pie.”

    And, believe it or not, I actually lived in Ellenville, NY for 2 years and never had an epiphany. If you had written here that you had one on a long weekend I would be sitting here right now wondering what the hell I did wrong.

    Take care my friend


    • Steve Wiggins

      Thanks, Jim — when were you in Ellenville? Not to worry; I hope for an epiphany just about every weekend too. I’m still waiting.


  3. Henk van der Gaast

    It all lies in the anatomy. Being upright doesn’t always mean being upright. Right?

    It all really devolves down to; what is a primate, now and then? I am not sure if ethics aren’t just another codification of our behaviour (when we are very very good) as morals (a great way to undercut an argument).

    Human primates behave as human primates, simian primates tend to behave very similarly. Cooperation seems to be universal amongst all. It stands to reason that losing the hair because of environmental advantage and selection cannot mean a shag, fib or stolen piece of fruit is going to not mean some sort of retribution.

    So cast out your moralising and ethicism, back to the old retributionalism..

    “hey, that’s my fish burger”.. “cool it Annias, there’s plenty more from the guy on the mount”…”Whack!”..

    “Hey you two with the crumbs and fish bits.. Love your brother”.

    “Pfft, makes a nice fish burger but shure don’t unnerstand primate retributionalism”.


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