A New Year’s Story

About a week ago on New Year’s eve, Mollie in her nightgown and I in my robe had just settled down to celebrate with a glass of wine about ten.  We wished Canada a happy New Year and promptly settled down to our final nap of 2010.  Dancing in my head were thoughts about what a mess the world was in.  War, nuclear weapons, instability, political rancor, unemployment, the price of gasoline – you know, the stuff of our times. 

Willie Nelson performing at Cardiff, UK

Image via Wikipedia

Not surprisingly, I had a dream.  It began with the mournful tones of a song.  I couldn’t distinguish the singers.  It might have been Willie Nelson, but it could also have been Harry Reid with Nancy Pelosi singing backup.  It went something like this:

  • Turn out the lights, our party’s over.
  • They say all good things must end.
  • Call it a night, our party’s over,
  • And tomorrow starts the same old stuff again.
  • What a crazy, crazy party.  Never seen so many people.
  • Voting NO so many times; look at them, they’re having fun.
  • Look at me, I’m almost crying, but that don’t solve the many problems.
  • Misery calls for me, our party’s over.

The music faded in my noggin but it was replaced almost at once by a specter, a spirit cloaked and faceless who said he was going to show me a vision, a vision of things to come in the new year.  In that foggy realm of r.e.m. I heard myself say, wait, specter!  What about the past?  What about the present?

Spectre de Brocken

Image via Wikipedia

The specter quoth enigmatically, “Never mind!  In Dickens’ time, those things mattered because the world moved at a slower pace.  The past is prologue and the present?  It is but a fleeting moment in which all people live.  It is a moving target and has become superficial, a mere tweet in the vastness of time.”

A tweet, I said?  “Yes, the specter replied.  We have to keep up with the times.”

I drifted off but, as I inevitably do I awoke and listened to Coast to Coast on the

radio for about 20 minutes, learning to my amazement that it was really the CIA that plotted the Kennedy assassination.  Then, I drifted off again.

Then, then, what is that shape?  Oh spirit, are you the one, the one who is going to show me the things that will be?  “No, you moron, the spirit said.  The future is not

Crystal Ball (Styx album)

Image via Wikipedia

predetermined.  It will be  what you will make of it, no more and no less.  There are countless possible worlds ahead of you, all within the physical rules of the particular universe you are in of course.  But what I can show you is what is possible.  For that I now summon the spirit Gergen.”

A bushel basket appeared and, tipping from the motion of an unseen hand there was revealed a lighted candle.  From it came a voice, speaking with quiet resolve.


Awakening from my reverie I realize that I had seen the future, but it was only a tantalizing glimpse of what might be.  Do terrible things happen for a purpose?  Is our world guided in a mysterious way by an unseen finger, or is it up to us?  But I was left with this conviction:  we need not be doomed, and the way of salvation is the way of moderation.  I ventured forth, full of newborn hope.


– – – Dedicated to Gabby Giffords, a Democrat newly-elected from a Republican district of Arizona who favored sensible immigration reform and opposed its harsh new law.  May she live to inspire us to emulate her moderation and love for her country.

About Jim Wheeler

U. S. Naval Academy, BS, Engineering, 1959; Naval line officer and submariner, 1959 -1981, Commander, USN; The George Washington U., MSA, Management Eng.; Aerospace Engineer, 1981-1999; Resident Gadfly, 1999 - present. Political affiliation: Democratic.
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8 Responses to A New Year’s Story

  1. Duane Graham says:


    A nice way to offer tribute to Representative Giffords, an American.



  2. jwhester says:

    That Gergen piece is a great find. Thanks for sharing.


  3. ansonburlingame says:


    I admire your dream and the possibilities it holds. I agree we all make our futures and such futures are not preordained.

    The sentiment expressed is so personal that I would not even attempt further comment however.

    As for Gabby, were she a member of the KKK, Tea Party, Acorn, MoveOn. org, Citizens United, any race, any creed, such wishes would be appropriate for her and her family and all others personally affected by that tragedy.

    And we can really test our humanity at a personal level as we consider our thoughts about the man that created that tragedy.



    • Jim Wheeler says:

      Thanks, Anson, for your comment. But it leaves me wondering whether you read the LINK as well. Gergen’s article on moderate politics is really the core of the post and I don’t consider that “personal”. ???



  4. wingwiper says:

    One your best, ever, Jim.



  5. ansonburlingame says:


    No I did not read the link. You said it well enough and needed no outside reinforcement of you views on moderation.



    • Jim Wheeler says:


      I thought so. By not reading Gergen’s one-page essay from Parade magazine you are, IMHO, missing one of the finest treatments of the subject I have read by a man who has served honorably and wisely both Democrat and Republican leaders. But if your mental filter is firmly set, then reading it would probably do no good. Back into the fray with vigor, eh? Go get ’em! 😈



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