Dennis O’Neil: Hunky Dory on the Potomac?

So this is the bardo, huh? Let’s look around… big Dick Sprang Batman print on the wall, lots of books, big repro of a Green Lantern/Green Arrow cover. Statuettes of comic book characters here and here, exercise gear, computer… You know, it looks a lot like my house, this bardo does.

Whoa! You, over there, perched on one of the Himalayas (can never tell the damn things apart) – yes you, the Tibetan dude, stop with the sneering, okay? I mean, how do you know that a bardo doesn’t look like my house? You ever seen a bardo? Has anyone seen a bardo and returned to report on it? No and no!

So keep your attitude to yourself!

Is that a hand I see raised? Okay, we have time to kill. (In fact, if we’re really inside a bardo, time may not exist.) You have a question?

What the heck is a bardo?

Where’d you learn to speak italics? Never mind. To address your question: I’ll give you a rough, back-of-the-envelope definition and you can resort to Google if you want more. According to Tibetan beliefs, a bardo is where your soul goes after it sheds its body and is not yet reincarnated in another. A region of waiting. Waiting for what? For whatever comes next.

(No more dumb questions, please.)

Bardo is one of my favorite tropes because it expresses situations in which we sometimes find ourselves. It’s a bit stronger than plain old “waiting” because, for me, it expresses not only waiting, but not knowing what you’re waiting for.

And doesn’t that just about say it all! I’d offer the proposition that, ever since November 7, most of us have been existing in a bardo state. Let’s agree, at least until I finish this sentence, we human Americas have lived through the worst case scenario. And?

Most everything in daily life is as-per-usual. But if we’re the kind of anachronisms who read newspapers or are the more common variety of carbon-based American life forms who get our news from television, we’re aware that things aren’t hunky dory on the Potomac. Those questionable appointments, that chumminess with Russia, that skipping of important meetings and ego-fraught tweets and belligerence toward China… Nothing has happened to give us hope that the situations won’t get worse after the inauguration when a huge lump of power lands in the lap of the guy in the red tie.

Meanwhile… hey, nice bardo we got here! But could we eliminate whatever’s tainting the air? It smells a lot like anxiety… and I don’t like it at all.