The view from here -
"Awful goin' on in the States!" That's how my father used to describe the world when he felt it was "going to hell in a handbasket." Didn't matter too much what the problem was. Could be anything from the rabbits not running, the fish not biting or a tsunami in Southeast Asia.
It could be, like those examples, one of the many things for which the States can rightfully claim no involvement. Didn't matter to my father. 9/11 was one of the few occasions on which he could state emphatically and absolutely legitimately that there was an awful going on in the States.
That comment about hell and handbaskets, of course, is the more popular way of expressing disgust, dismay and disappointment at the general ongoingness of things. I don't know if "ongoingness" is a word to be found in your Funk and Wagnell's or not, and I'm too lazy to look it up. It does express what I want expressed, so don't worry about it. Let's not get sidetracked here.
The ongoingness of the world is "all screwed up." Very few would disagree with that. Interesting use of words, though. Twenty years ago, no one would dare say that word "screwed" in polite company. It meant only one thing, that one thing having nothing to do with screws. Today preachers belt it out from the pulpit, prime ministers use it to describe opposition parties and parents chastise their teenagers with it.
In 10 years I'll be able to write (if I'm still here), the world is "all f--ked up" without fear of immediate censure. I don't know where we'll go from there. Don't care very much. Swearing, like sin, is more a cultural thing than anything else.
From natural calamities to wars and rumours of wars, we are in one "God-awful mess." That seems to be an oxymoron of sorts. Few would match God and awful in the same breath. To illustrate, this computer insists on printing "love" every time I say "God." Kind of scary. Can computers make Freudian slips?
Newfoundlanders and Labradorians coined a whole new term to do with a combination of natural and manmade calamities in the loss of our fishery. It's my favourite.
"The arse is gone clean out of 'er!"
That can now apply to a pair of pants or a pair of legs. Or to elaborate, a pair of pants in which there's a pair of legs in which the arse is gone clean out of them. You see such pants on teenage boys all the time. The truth, of course, is that the arse isn't gone at all. It's just slipped down around the lad's ankles.
Having a natural interest in such things, I have asked many young teenage females if they find such attire to be at all attractive or "sexy." I have yet to hear an answer much different from, "Oh dear God, no!"
She's going downhill "like guts through the trunkhole."
Unless you grew up in the fishing stage when boatloads of fish were being put away, chances are you've never heard this one before. The heads and innards of the fish would be kicked through this square hole in the floor, the trunkhole, and into the salt water below as food for tomcods, connors and sculpins.
The trunkhole had other uses as well, but we won't go into that here.
These and many other such expressions were meant to convey an attitude toward the world that said, "I've done me best but despite my efforts, everything's going downhill 'like guts through the trunkhole.'" There wasn't much happening to change anyone's mind back in the good old, bad old days. The national preoccupation was - and largely still is - complaining.
Most who always saw the glass as half full relied upon other statements to get their attitude across. I believe I can speak for them.
You know of comfort foods such as chocolate and Jigg's dinners. There are comfort terms and sentences as well, designed to lull you into a feel-good attitude toward the world and life in general. These are pretty much the opposite of the statements we've been talking about above, and come complete with jelly fillings.
As you walk through the deep seas of the meaning in these lines, as Les Crane (he wrote a famous parody of Desiderata) might have said, you might get the taps on your shoes wet. In short, they do not describe what is, as does "it's all guts through the trunkhole, b'y."
"This, too, shall pass."
Truth is, it might not, unless it's gas. It might change, but it might not pass.
"God never lays on you more than you can bear."
Somebody does. Happens all the time - check the latest suicide list.
"It's a beautiful world!"
Not for the hungry, the lonely, the homeless, the fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs. ...
"Every cloud has a silver lining."
The headliner feel-good statement of them all, of course, is that line from Desiderata: "the universe is unfolding as it should."
Perhaps the universe is unfolding as it's intended to unfold, or meant to unfold, but it isn't unfolding as it should.
If it were unfolding as it should, there would be no war in Afghanistan, no famine in Sudan and the Muslims would not hate us.
If it were unfolding as it should, there would be no more earthquakes, no more floods and no more sexual abuse. No asteroids screaming towards us, no vehicle accidents and no health-care problems, especially in laboratories.
If the universe is unfolding as it should, I'd like to sit down for a long chat with whoever is doing the unfolding, because he also seems to be bending, stapling and mutilating.
Gee whiz, Smith, you're saying, I can't believe this is how you really feel. Well, today it is. Tomorrow will probably be totally different.
Tomorrow the sun may shine!
Ed Smith is an author who lives in Springdale. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org