SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska
Column - Commentary

Better Living Through Chemicals  


March 28, 2022
Monday PM

Ketchikan, Alaska -
Now that I have survived another "circle round the sun" as some people refer to birthdays, it's time to take stock once again.  

jpg  Dave Kiffer

I've often thought "circle round the sun" was one of those odd little cliches. While it is true that I - and some 7 billion other people - are indeed "circling round the sun" it seems an odd way to describe such a passive journey.  

 To say I am "circling round the sun" makes it sound like I am the hero in some grand adventure, say riding the "solar winds" in a three-masted Caravel shouting "argh" and "aye matey" into space.  

 In reality, I am just a passenger on what amounts to a giant cruise ship sailing through the heavens, trying not to contract a virus while at the same time supping endlessly at the midnight buffet table. But I did not choose this trip, nor do I have any real influence over it. So, my actions are not particularly heroic.  

 There's a commercial that runs during Antiques Roadshow for one of the genealogy companies in which a woman says it is important to teach her children genealogy because she wants them to know they came from "brave" people.  

 Compared to what?  

 Yes, the fact that - at some point - someone in her family got on a boat somewhere and "Came to America" makes them somewhat "braver" I guess than somewhat who didn't, or at least more willing to take a chance.  

 But if you subscribe to the theories of human migration (Another odd term, subscribe. Do I have to pay $49 a year like National Geographic?), then you understand that everyone on this “here” continent is descended from people who came from "there," so we are all "brave."  

 More or less.  

 Of course, the fact that I am even a watcher of Antiques Roadshow indicates that I am of the demographic that has made many, many "circles round the sun." And is susceptible to the significant need for pharmaceuticals (see below). Not that I am suggesting I would prefer to not be alive on the "lonely blue dot" for another year. It just seems like an odd description of life.  

 Kind of, in the way, that whenever I see someone refer to a happy couple as "lovebirds" it gives me pause.  

 Not because lovebirds don't show an "unusual" level of bonding in the animal world. They do. But because it seems to imply that all long-term couples are just happy-dappy-dappy all the days and years of their lives. Plus, I also remember a college friend who had a pair of lovebirds that spent all day pecking at each other incessantly. Hmm, maybe that is an apt description of marriage after all?  

 It also implies that they - like lovebirds - often sit in each other's presence for long periods of the day doing nothing. That may be more accurate, because it does describe how many couples pass their time together. Silently watching TV or playing with their cell phones.  

 Anyway, I digress.  

 And I am starting to wonder where I was going with this in the first place. Talk about an immense 360-degree circle around a hot gaseous object.  

 Which reminds me of the old Johnny Carson line. He was asked how he became a star and he said “I started out in a hot, gaseous state and then I cooled.”  

 Yes, I digress. Once again.  

 At any rate, having another birthday allows me to "take stock."  

 Does it seem like I am using "quotes" around too many things?  

 To be honest, (does anyone ever start a sentence with "Just let me open with a lie here?") I was an "early adopter" of air quotes back in the day.  In fact, I got carpel tunnel syndrome by whipping out too many "air quotes" when I was young. I certainly didn't want anyone to think that I wasn't "in on the joke" even when I wasn't.  

 Now, I just have a keyboard where the "quote" key has been worn down to a nub. Go figure.  

 You're probably wondering - as am I- what any of this has to do with the title of that I typed 600 or so words ago. "Better Living Through Chemicals."  

 Well, I have reached the point in life where I am clearly being kept alive (and on that Great Circle Tour of the Sun) by a variety of pharmaceuticals.  

 National HIPAA laws prevent me from saying what the drugs are and what maladies they are supposed to be treating. (cop out!) But every night a whole bunch of stuff goes into my mouth and I am rewarded by waking up the next morning. This is good because it allows me to continue to "digress" over and over and over again. And it keeps me on that giant cruise ship not so slowly transiting the heavens on its "circling of the sun."  

 As I noted early, I am a passive - but grateful - "passenger" on this voyage. Which - given the pharmaceuticals - is probably not a bad idea.  

 If the Caravel were ever pulled over by the Space Cops, I would likely have trouble passing the sobriety tests.  

 Here's to another year on the great voyage.  


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Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.

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