“My message is that we’ll be watching you. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”
All over my town kids are filing along side-walks, waiting for the school bus or walking to school. Rush hour starts up before it did a few weeks ago, and every one is on the go. I too am up and out far earlier than just a week ago, ready to meet and greet my almost 90 students. New sneakers and brightly colored garb and all the rest adorn the pre-K through 12 as they stroll about the hallways. But what about all those who are lost in-transition– between foster families– or disputing parents– or living in families who find the back to school basics too much for their budget? For those unable to purchase the items on the must-have-list, these first days are another struggle kids face as they walk into the classroom. Hey, why not consider helping? If you are no longer outfitting your own kids for school, hitting up the local supply store might be a fun trip down memory lane, giving you the opportunity to pick out pencil cases, spiral notebooks, bright highlighters, and all the rest students need. Create your own must haves for someone who can’t.
At my school, a backpack drive came together to support kids who come to school without the necessaries. A quick call to your local public school guidance office might help you locate a group that is doing the same in your neighborhood, and just like that you can make a huge impact. We popped in to the shop last Saturday and grabbed pencils and markers and highlighters and notebooks, and then added a water bottle and a smaller pouch to store valuables that could be easily accessed and removed. We made sure both backpacks were sturdy, and luckily found a store that offered an additional discount when we told them we were donating. The discussion at the cash register spurred a whole line of folks to do the same, and in just a few minutes everyone was discussing how they might help the kids who really need some help. Like wild fire the contagion of support spreads and before you know it every kid in town has the same advantages.
During this hectic time, it is easy to fixate on our own needs, to dial into our own isolated demands, but I dare you to stretch beyond your own boundaries. Remember this next generation are dealing with so much, from the front lines of targeted school violence to an uncertain environmental future, inheriting a whole planet of catastrophic issues to reconcile. They need to be focused and better educated than we ever imagined necessary. They need to problem solve all that we have laid on them, and they need the tools to do so. Let’s all do what we can to lend a helping hand for those who are our future. #backtoschool2019 #payitforward
Week after week I have posted about yet another swim. I know. And I’m so sorry. It’s just like this crazy fixation for me. Actually it’s not that, swimming is my lifeline, a means to finding a way through when there doesn’t seem to be another way. In summer all possible watering holes are endless possibilities for joy. I seek out mountain streams that burst over waterfalls, misty lakes where loons call back and forth to each other, the big beachy Pacific or the stoney Atlantic and the occasional outdoor pool to dive in and float under the heavens. But you all know that. It is the same story every August. Me writing about going as far as a dare and then going a bit further.
The reality is I am a playful swimmer, I mean sure come November I’ll be in the indoor pool doing the back and forth lap thing, but even then I find myself breaking up the routine by watching the light skip across the surface. All summer long I just play in the water. While on a ferry recently we saw a school of dolphins playing in the wake, jumping high up over the waves and diving back under, all in unison, right as the sun sank into the horizon turning the sky lilac and tangerine. My buddies for sure. How lucky that we still have miles of water just for our pleasure?
Water rules me, and even though I reside in a land-locked state, there are rivers at every turn, as well as quiet paths to stroll along side. On days when a swim isn’t possible, hearing water run shallow over rock while shimmering in the late afternoon sunshine can elevate my mood pretty gosh darn well. I am so grateful for this magnificent world. For all this clean air and water.
This just might be the time when we all do whatever it is we can to keep it as pristine as we can. That will take a few adjustments for most people on our planet. The United States may not be the #1 country responsible for creating the Earth’s destructive and devastating pollution (China wins that award), however, we are #2. Imagine that? For a country that prides itself on grass-root, small-town, community-caring, we certainly are making a catastrophic mess of this one planet we need to keep inhabiting. Can we each make a change? Depending on our current lifestyles, perhaps a few small steps might be possible for all of us?
Going zero waste is a great step towards combating climate change. Practicing the 5 R’s of zero waste can help.
You’ve probably heard of the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. But there are two more that are equally important.
Lets break it down:
- Refuse – Avoid single use plastics and paper products by saying no thank you, opting for reusables.
- Reduce – Downsize what you purchase, opting to be more mindful of what you really need.
- Reuse – Always find a way to keep an item out of the landfill by keeping it in great condition, repairing or upcycling it when it breaks.
- Rot – Set up a compost system for your food scraps, or find a food scrap drop off center (like a farmers market, or community garden) near your house.
- Recycle – Properly recycle any plastic, paper, glass or metal that comes into your life you cannot refuse, reduce, or reuse by researching your state’s recycling laws.
If you ask me, all this glorious swimming and strolling under a big blue sky is worth our efforts.
Perhaps it is the sea of fake news we find ourselves drowning in, or perhaps the spew of lies that click so easily off Trump’s digits, whatever the reason, I am drawn more and more to reading the “confessional poets” of yesteryear. Those original ones, who cared little for the moniker but much for “focusing on extreme moments of individual experience, the psyche, and personal trauma, including previously and occasionally still taboo matters” (Confessional poetry). Plath, Lowell, Sexton. They broke repression and oppression. Wove the atrocities of the Nazis into autobiographical poetry. Created verse from what we denied, with the stuff left under the rug. As their ashtrays overflowed and they pounded typewriter keys, their truth loosened onto the page and heralded a revolution of honesty.
We need those crazy fragile ones back on the center shelf. Enough with fiction for a while. Enough with thinking it isn’t the obscene power of the AR-15 that is slaughtering us. Enough with thinking that Trump isn’t motivated solely to further fatten his paunch. Enough with thinking these moral right-wingers have morals, or at least the same ones that you and I share. You know, like caring that babies are murdered at school or church or anywhere a deranged angry white man with an assault weapon cuts them down. If you still read Facebook “news” with conviction or scroll down your Twitter feed believing those 140 or now 280 characters, then wake up, you are being made the fool.
Hate breeds hate, right? Remember that one from kindergarten? We have been lead into a labyrinth of falsehoods from the naked emperor to those scurry to do his bidding. Time to taste the bitter pill. Face the hard facts. We have violated our selves. Our women. Our poor. Our neighbors. Our small towns and big cities. Our planet. Continue reading
Outside my window is nothing but fall perfection. The sugar maples are electric shades of red and orange; fire flames igniting hillsides with their brilliant hues while yellow pops all over the landscape too. Evergreens stand taller now, holding their forest color and reminding us that life goes on even while chlorophyll breaks down those leaves fading on the deciduous trees. Poetry alone captures this season of change. This moving on: an end and a beginning all in the same breath.
And yet, regardless of my present beatific state, it would be unthinkable to not mention all the suffering happening around our globe. Puerto Ricians are minimally months away from finding electricity or clean water back into so many dwellings swept to the ground by Hurricane Maria. California is inundated by the most devastating fires of all time; more than 50,000 acres are burning in Napa and Sonoma counties alone (The Washington Post). One need not look further than Texas or Florida to find unrivaled destruction this hurricane season. All man’s work. All due to our cavalier approach to having our way upon this gentle earth; us, we are the cause of so many of these epic disasters.