There are things everyone says, so they’re assumed to be true.

This is why I keep some things to myself.

Don’t speak ill of the dead. Don’t wish ill on the living.

That whole notion–that all human life is precious, that our souls make us something special–has never made sense. Perhaps all people are precious to God, but they’re not to me. If Beethoven had a soul, it’s worth more than Donald Trump’s. There are people I will mourn and other people I won’t miss at all.

I’m not sure what a soul is. It seems like something you invent to get out of dying. If I do have a soul, I’m quite certain my chickadee Studley does too. In any case, every one of us will die. Our souls will survive us, or they will fade back into fiction.

So I don’t, mostly, wish ill on a living person. At least out loud. COVID-19 is purely awful. And I wouldn’t, as the mandatory sentiment would have it, wish it on anyone.

But if I did, bingo, he would totally be the guy. I hope he recovers. And lives long enough to go to prison.

Why? Not because I enjoy imagining someone suffering. I don’t. I’m at least that much of a liberal. But this man has been jaw-droppingly careless with other people’s lives. People of color, immigrants, peaceful protestors, and, in the face of a pandemic, every still-breathing American. 

And now, for him, finally, the shit got real.

It got real for someone who doesn’t believe anything is real and has duped half the population with his whims and fantasies and play-acting and ever-flowing fountain of bullshit. I can celebrate that. I do.

Because it’s not just a pandemic. We’re also well on the way to destroying our planet as a livable habitat for us and most of our fellow travelers. We know exactly how we got here, we know what to do about it–but criminally greedy souls are pretending we don’t, and are blithely sacrificing their children. And yours. And Studley’s children too. They are willing to risk it all, for a little bit of money. It makes no difference if half the people are willing to swallow their lies whole and ask for seconds. It doesn’t make it less real. Shit needs to get real. If it takes a dead man to do it, I’m good with that.

I do not particularly believe that human life is sacred, or at least any more sacred than other life. But tonight, I was thinking about our souls and our pretense to immortality, and I put on a recording of Beethoven’s Ninth, second movement. I cranked it way up. I lost my breath.

The top of my head tingled and dissolved and lifted off until it soared with the angels I don’t believe in. It was as real as anything I know.