"What do you think about all this mess?"
I glanced up from the gas nozzle to see an elderly stranger peering at me from the other side of a gas pump.
"What mess?" I inquired.
I paused briefly in thought before replying, "I don't know what to think."
There was a hint of sadness in my response.
"Suppose to be a good chance of rain this weekend," I commented as I cast an eye to the sky. It was my way of dismissing a conversation I had not asked for.
Throughout that day, three other people had attempted to strike a conversation on this topic. Each and every time I had sidestepped with the same response. It was the truth. I honestly don't know what I think about it. All I know is that it makes me sad.
I am not one to small talk. I thrive on deep, meaningful conversation. Small talk I find boring, a waste of my time and a waste of words. The weather, the Dallas Cowboys, or who danced with whom on 'Dancing With The Stars'...I choose not to waste verbiage on such trivial and trite topics. Find me an individual who I can communicate with on the same wavelength and I can immerse myself in deep conversation with them for hours. I will pick their brain and harvest their thoughts, storing them away to be analyzed and digested at some future point in time in the privacy of my own mind.
I was aware there was something happening in Charlotte the first night violence kicked off. It was happening right before my eyes as I stared at my computer screen. As the headlines caught my attention, rather than following a link to the news story giving me all the gory details, I scrolled on by, finally clicking a Facebook link entitled, '5 Herbs That Mosquitoes Absolutely, Positively Despise.' I had made an unconscious decision to ignore the horrors that plague the country I call mine. I had retreated...back to my island.
I've reached a stage in my life where I really don't want to dwell on the evils of this world. Perhaps with so many years behind me, I've become aware that there is absolutely nothing I personally can do to change the world in which I live. I leave all that to the millennials. I just want to live in peace. And it's getting almost impossible to do. I do not watch the evening news, in fact, television in general. Every so often, out of boredom, I flip on the TV and as sure as there's a moon up above, I find myself blatantly exposed to two men kissing each other.
Make no mistake, I am very much aware of the happenings of this world around me. At least those which the media chooses to make me aware of. I'd wager that I knew about the killing of five people at a mall in Washington state before ninety-nine percent of you ever found out. As a writer, social media freak, and web developer, I constantly scour the internet for shareable content. I saw the breaking headline before the media had anything to share other than the fact of the attack. But, just as the Charlotte incident, I scrolled on past. It was late in the night and I was tired and it wasn't happening in my front yard, so instead I clicked a link entitled, 'Everything coming to Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBO Now in October.'
If I were to be so brazenly bold as to give you any insight into my own thoughts, you might discover that I am of the opinion that these constant attacks on the freedoms of the citizens of our nation are merely a tiny part of a much larger picture. If I were to share an opinion, I would tell you that these random acts of violence throughout our great land are not so random at all. Sure, it is random violence occurring in random cities. But, beneath the surface, I believe it is a well-orchestrated plan by some unknown force, with an idiotic media beating the drums ever so loudly to fuel the flames. Well, if I were to share my opinion on such things, that's what I'd tell you.
I think the average American has taken much the same approach as I. We continue to stroll casually through a world that is no longer safe to stroll through. With blinders on our eyes, we yearn for peaceful times in which to raise our children, in which to grow old in. We tell ourselves that we will never be killed as we shop in the mall. We tell ourselves that we will never face a gunman in a dark parking lot some fateful night. We tell ourselves that our neighborhoods will never burn. We convince ourselves that foreigners will never rape our children. We choose to live on our own islands, safe from all that. That's what we try to convince ourselves of, anyway. We will tell ourselves that until the day we die from a bullet wound inflicted by some stranger we never knew.
I've said for years and years...when I get old, I want to live on some island off the coast of Mexico. Give me a pretty senorita, a bottle of tequila, a herd of goats, and a straw hut. Let me just sit in my dilapidated lawn chair watching the sun set below the horizon of the ocean, a tequila sunrise in my hand and a beautiful, brown eyed woman at my side. As some world far, far away goes up in flames...I'll be right where I yearn to be...back on my island.