Wednesday, July 03, 2013

The World Spins

I attended a memorial recently for a young man I knew. Most of the others there were his agemates, buddies, past & present loves. And lots of dogs, a mass of flowers, & abundant weed. Plus plates and plates of food from one of the people closest to him because when all else fails at least there is food to offer. I think she spent three days cooking; she’s a generous soul who every day puts herself on the line for justice, kindness, connection.

I don’t even remember what we talked of; I admired the dead kid’s photos & the portraits others had done. He had a kind of goofy charm & a great smile. And he was around my younger kids’ ages.

What I remember, what still haunts me, was looking round that ragged circle of nomads and housies and dogs and all and thinking, hoping, wishing with all my heart that I could keep them all safe.

That nothing would hurt them. That no despair would cut their world into pieces. That they would live, thrive, find their way through the thicket of youth, poverty, ambition, drugs, hormones, frustration & joy & be the best they could.

It hurts.

There is no safety in this world, at least not that I can find or give out.
So I give out apples or oranges. At least there is food.

Two whales washed up on our beaches, juveniles. The science people tell me not to worry, there have been years in which twenty have beached and died. Two is nothing at all.

But there was the great flood of krill washed up on our beaches the week before, some still alive, some having mated, full of eggs. The scientists scratch their heads about this one. Possibly the ocean is too warm? Possibly—they don’t say this, but the thought comes—you know that radiation from Fukishima, still leaking, still making its way to us along with the wreckage of broken lives—could that be a cause?

My bold Finnegan, a Manx cat, brings me a snake. The snake is not very happy. Finnegan himself looks confused—what to do about the coiling, stretching creature? I thank Finnie for the gift and take the snake from him. It is still vigorous and seems unhurt. I tell the snake I’m sorry my cat grabbed it, and take it to a shady nook near my little fish tub, where it quickly disappears, I hope to safety.

If only I could do that with everything.

The world spins with accident, shock, revolt, and beauty.

A couple weeks ago I watched an expert tree climber ascend into an eagle’s nest and cradle the big eaglets in his arms, taking them to be measured and banded and then returning them to their home 95 feet in the air. He is infinitely patient and calm, talking to them in a quiet voice. They seem unflustered, and within a week or so they will fledge, fly from the nest, go out into the uncertain, beautiful world.

Today I watched a lot of cops take a protester from his perch in a wick draining crane down in Willits (the wonders of video & computers). Oddly, it reminded me of the treeclimber who tags eagles. The protestor, Will Parrish, had that sort of calm, and for once the cops seemed calm as well. Though I wonder why they needed dozens of cops for this one arrest (and the later one of Amanda “Warbler” for trespass in an area unmarked by no trespassing signs).

What are they afraid of, I wondered.

And wonder.

I know what I fear, and what I try to face straight on. I’m old enough to have a litany of losses and panoply of joys. I’ve seen change I could not have imagined or forecast. I’ve seen social changes I thought were set—eroded. Watching Wendy Davis live I saw in that rowdy, determined, brilliantly unruly gallery a lot of fresh young faces and some very staunch women who might have marched with me at the demonstrations of the 60’s and early 70’s. Oh, we thought then we had won the way for the generations to come. Peace and freely given (and protected) love. Barriers crashing.

We didn’t know. The story is change, nothing certain but the beauty of fierce determination.

About the wetlands protests one friend asked “well, isn’t it a done deal?” implying that a sane person would give up. But that isn’t an option, even when faced with the power of money, corruption, governmental sleaze.

It’s not an option, giving up.

Though we stand at a memorial, though we see the patterns before us, though the whales beach, though young souls take their lives, we must go on. We must keep telling the truth, offering our food or our solace, our passion, our wildness, cradling this world as the treeclimber cradled that eaglet.

Yes, it could tear our hearts out.

We do it anyway.

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Blogger christopher said...

I too thought surely something would change because we did what we did. I think something did change but not what we thought. Of course we were grandiose. But it seemed then and still seems now that we are on the brink and as we dally here at the edge of things the saving of us becomes ever more radical. I heard the other day that the actual sustainable carrying capacity of the planet is some 4 billion of us max. We are of course nearly twice that.

I have no clue what to do beyond what you are doing in your way and me in mine. We clear out the space nearby as best we can and treat each other well within it if we can. It might help to enlist some kind of higher power in this. I don't know.

3:40 PM, July 03, 2013  
Blogger jarvenpa said...

Yes, you are right, Christopher.

I was talking with a young friend who said "well, I think each generation has its challenges and struggles to go through" And I guess she's right. Was thinking the other day of The War To End All Wars back about a hundred years now.

I think there is a higher power already enlisted, though I'd be a fool to name or limit that, and in the long term that's of some mild comfort. But in the short term..yes, a clear space, a little kindness, a glimpse of beauty, a bunch of endurance.

12:35 PM, July 06, 2013  
Blogger christopher said...

I am not sure mild comfort is how I would say it, since I believe there is a pact between all of us to honor free will which of course means honoring all sorts of falling short of the mark. In the short run is really all we have but we also have to trust the "higher power" to act however such acts are woven into things before the falling off the brink becomes inevitable.

However, I suspect that humans are not exactly primary in divine sight when the health of the entire planet is at stake. I can easily see some serious changes which revises nearly everything, including how many humans there are on the planet and what kind of civilized behavior remains possible. I do not see that beyond the divine scope and it wouldn't even be punishment - just an adjustment to correct a regrettable imbalance.

10:51 PM, July 06, 2013  
Blogger ocean lady said...

I remember seeing the sadness in the eyes of older adults when i was young and wondering at it - and even being annoyed by it. Couldn't they see the glory of the day we were in? All the splendid possibilities? Now of course i am one of them and, like you, have seen at least a few of the worlds tragedies and ongoing struggles up close. "For every meeting there will be a parting" Buddhism teaches, for every birth a decline and death." and "Ordinary life, focused on that which is bound to impermanence is inevitably disappointing and ends in suffering." Such phrasal teachings alone are of little help of course, though their meaning has grown on me over the years. What has helped is the realization that other people, over such a very long period of time, have tried to come to terms with this great sadness of things and loved ones not holding, not lasting. And a few of them found some answers, and passed their great love down to us. We do at least help pass that on.

12:54 PM, July 20, 2013  

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