Today I had a colleague call me out for an error, which was fine, but they then threw me under the bus by highlighting the mistake to my boss. Yeah, whatevs, thankfully I have no real concerns there. I mean, I know my value and all that, but who needs more crap, right? So much bad news streaming through our stream. Always more fear. More despair. More bad shit for us all to endure. We search for that one light flickering in the shadows, desperate for one bright second in the dark. What to do? Head to the pool to shake it off the best way I know. Diving into the green and stroke after stroke letting all that cool water slide over my stream till I’m smoothed over again.
Not sure why specifically but I guess it’s the whole stinking pot of shit news that’s got me remembering icons. The great ones, who touch down for short snippets of time to do good for the planet. You know the type, those who cure, not infect. Not as almighty as the Christ or as grandiose as an übermensch, but ordinary folks who strive and march and work tirelessly for the betterment of other ordinary folks. I don’t know if those people just don’t make the headlines anymore or can’t yell over the frenzied hype, but I am desperate for their comfort, their strength and their vision. Desperate for those who can lead us out of the status quo state of collusion, corruption and chaos.
One of Vermont’s biggest strengths, in my view, is that it’s a place of tradition and a place of change: from legendary apple pies to snappy hard cider. A place with morals that allow for an expanse on the definition: Christian ministers perform same-sex marriage here. A state with an elected Republican Governor, Democratic Senators and Independents sprinkled throughout. People vote for people here, not party. People listen to debates or town hall meetings or their neighbors to get a full picture of the candidates. Political advertisements are a rarity, because Vermonters aren’t dazzled by sound bites. Maybe you feel the same about your community?
What makes creativity happen for you? That thing that gets you to a place where beyond fades in opaque light, just light, that when brush hits canvas or clay first forms or beads reorder in a new order or beats just tap themselves out or the pencil flies across the page, and beyond this spark of creation lays nothing you care for, like the crumpled sheets pushed aside in the night so you now lay exposed under the hot light of imagination. Consumed. You write. You don’t give a hoot about where you’ll end up on the continuum you just have to keep on moving toward that something. You make space for it, like every Thursday night you sit while the stream streams, and all that other stuff fades, the very stuff that might have made you cry or driven you crazy or made you cold just melts like July does on your back deck. And if you don’t write or paint or drum or dance or let yourself enter that space, then, well then something awful happens and you collapse, maybe you just shout or find yourself watching the evening commentary show that has replaced actual news, and you then, without much provocation, are on Twitter, scrolling through hundreds of characters issued by people who can’t talk to each other only at each other. You start to obsess.
- The senators, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Susan Collins of Maine, did not say that they would vote to confirm Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. But both made positive remarks.
- Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat who is facing a difficult re-election race and had been undecided, said she would vote against the confirmation. (New York Times)
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.
Early Monday I was sitting in my car waiting for the layer of morning frost to melt off my windshield when I first heard the news from Las Vegas on NPR. I immediately got out of the car and went back inside to hug my wife. In her confusion over this double goodbye, I suggested she sit. Together we scrolled through dozens of 140 character snippets on Twitter; just long enough to fully grasp the horror. What is there to say when one hears of another mass murder carried out by another person in possession of a rigged-rapid-fire rifle? Is this our new normal, America?
Period 1, I asked my students to start class with a seven minute write. Typical Monday routine although I am sure they sensed my desperate need for writing time rather than our regular foray into playfulness. 7 minutes to write. That mystical number which allows us to break into the root of the matter. Afterwards, I asked who heard the news from Las Vegas that morning. Several responded at once. One shooter. Mass murder. Innocent concert-goers. Largest massacre in US history. After a brief but potent rundown of the know facts I posed the pressing yet unanswerable question: how will we solve the gun violence epidemic in America? They talked background checks. Gun limits. Mental illness. But then they sat mute, weighed down by the magnitude of gun violence, again. I asked them, please continue this conversation, with anyone, with everyone. To not let the NRA or the politicians in their pockets, or the fear, win. I’m not sure they could hear me. Many own guns. Most are already afraid. One suggested I carry a gun. We laughed at the thought of that. Me. The little lady with loud boots and big hats. It was time to move on, so, we segued into a discussion of the character of Edna’s suicide at the end of Chopin’s The Awakening. Seriously, understanding these massacres are beyond me in every way possible.