CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
When we let our instincts exceed their normal reach, we cause suffering for ourselves and those around us. Everybody knows that. Just knowing it doesn’t seem to do much about regulating the effects of instincts in collision. If knowledge were the key, we wouldn’t need courts, police or prisons.
Why do celebrities who kill their girlfriends think they can get away with it by simply lying? I guess they look at the historical record and conclude that the odds are in their favor. It worked for OJ and it will probably work for Pistorius as well. Here in Thailand, the son a former Thai Miss Universe recently got off with time served for deliberately driving his car into and killing people in a bus stop, after he had argued with a bus driver. His doctor had advised the court that he is bipolar, and therefore not responsible for his actions when he gets really, really angry. His family had paid blood money to the families of the victims, and everyone seemed to think that justice had been served by letting him walk after spending less than a month in confinement. He was, after all, the son of a recognized celebrity.
Every other person I know back in the states has the bi-polar diagnosis. It’s the new rage, supplanting the old “depression” diagnosis that now seems so eighties. Having never wanted to kill anyone, even a girlfriend who displeased me, I am at a loss to explain why these men seem to lack remorse, or even the spine to admit when they’ve been wrong, but I do know that in most parts of the world there are varying standards of culpability depending on social status and access to expert legal opinion. If I ever get in legal trouble, and the chances are slim I will now that I rarely do anything even mildly illegal, I will spend all I can on a lawyer. And I will take the advice that I read from an expert who offered his advice freely in an op-ed piece in the New York Times, and never say anything to the police unless forced to. Never make a casual remark to an officer who is interrogating you. He is not your friend. He can and will use anything you say against you if he feels like it. You gain nothing by trying to be his buddy. Despite his insinuations to the contrary, he will not go easier on you if you assume the buddy role. Call a lawyer and then relax until he arrives. Follow his advice. He’ll be worth every penny you have to pay him.
Sometimes I think prison might not be that bad for someone who longs for an excuse to finally relax and concentrate. All this running around seeking diversion has some serious downside. Maybe being locked in a cell for most of the day would prove a fine tonic for mental concentration. I wonder if they’d let me have my keyboard?
I have been learning Handel minuets for keyboard. These are simple yet hauntingly beautiful pieces that don’t get as much play as the pieces Bach wrote for the little Bachs. Elementary, yes, but each one-page piece takes me a week to master, and then an additional week to memorize. There are many children age six and seven on Youtube who already perform these works more fluidly than I can ever hope to. But that’s OK, it’s not a contest. In fact, one of the ways I try to encourage myself to keep practicing is to murmur “You’re already lost the contest.” As I turn sixty-three, I realize there is no hope I will become a child prodigy.
For much of my life, I have been waiting for that day when I would finally be able to relax and appreciate what I already have. Unfortunately, if the past is any predictor of the future, it doesn’t look like that day is going to arrive soon. I may find myself disgruntled and in a hurry on the last day of my life. Several items on my imaginary to-do list may not receive their imaginary check-offs. Instead, I may find myself hurtling down that dark tunnel, toward the increasingly bright light muttering “darn, I had that two-for one coupon at Hardees and I never got to use it”