At my son's place of employment, the security staff has extra duty in the warmer months. They become rattlesnake wranglers.
In the hills of Pasadena, chaparral and eucalyptus flourish and an asphalt parking lot becomes fine sunning ground for groggy reptiles. Last week, van-pool riders could not disembark until security had vanquished the rattlers. My son reported that the "Watch out for rattlesnakes" notices would be posted at once.
When we sign on for a job, a relationship, a task, we can never be sure how it will turn out. I hope the job description covers these scaly doings in the wild kingdom, but years of drought have brought animal life closer to civilization and construction has carried civilization deeper into what was once untamed. What might have been two required captures per season may now be dozens.
All things are not as advertised. We edit. We don't always choose to tell each other about the snakes.
Truth, though, has its own natural laws and eventually foams out past the tightened lid. Or explodes in the manner of my grandmother's canned peaches, stored in the garage rafters, unequal to the heat of too many summer days. With or without warning, someone is left to clean up the fermented goo and side-step the broken glass.
We learn wariness, which can blossom into cynicism. It is not a thing I admire in myself. I want to think well of people, to trust their motives and take them at their word. Some evasions we can survive, more or less intact. Others leave us scarred and altered. But I am unsure whether, in my case, the bad surprises were really secret or did I not want to see them. After the fact of some earth-shaking revelations, I have been told that others knew, could see, but decided not to tell me. What is the right answer? I like to believe that I am mature enough (in age, at least) to behave well when told an unwelcome fact. But I can't swear to it.
Some of these thoughts are the result of wondering how much of the real story we will ever know regarding events from 9/11/2001 through the May 1, 2011 death of bin Laden. It has been years since I felt our government, or any government, allowed us the dignity of handling the truth. I don't know if we are a society or a planet of secrets. Reasons are so wide-ranging, nationally and personally: shame, fear of retaliation, fear of spreading panic, fear of loss, fear of humiliation...shame and fear, various mutations thereof.
Will we be fooled again, at home, in the street? Are we being fooled now? Not impossible. Our best hope is to pay better attention, maybe not shout down intuition when it wants to be heard and believe in our own ability to endure, to prevail, to carry on.
(The lyrics to Won't Get Fooled Again may be found here.)