It is 80 degrees today. There is a breeze but it is sunny and on my walk I saw young girls in bikinis. My friend Joyce came over and we sat out on the porch and talked, drank tea and knit.
From his reply:
As to 80 degrees, that's outrageous. We are on the tail end of a blizzard that has dumped over a foot of snow on Menomonie with temps in the 20's and not getting any warmer for the next several days. Have you been watching the political news from Wisconsin? The unions are manning the barricades in a last ditch effort to stem the tide of power and money bent on destroying them. I think they will win in the end but it is really grim. All that is stopping the Governor are 14 Democratic senators who have left the state to hide out and prevent a quorum in the Senate so the Republicans can pass the union busting budget bill. Given all that, I'm glad you had sun, warmth, bikini clad girls and a friend to sit on your porch with. Life here is grim by contrast.
I was intrigued by the juxtaposition of the winter storm and the budget/union struggles in Wisconsin. Earlier this year, I commented to my son Robin that I had felt all through the past year that our Earth is angry at what humans have done to their planetary home and it is showing up in earthquake, wind and fire, and now these endless winter storms. Of course, I know that such things have been happening throughout the history of our world and that advances in communication technology have made us more aware of these catastrophes. I know too that the results of overpopulation make the death tolls and damage to property much greater.
But beginning with Tunisia and rolling on through Egypt and all the other Mideast countries, the political turmoil has seemed like the human equivalent of earthquake, wind and fire. The teachers in Wisconsin are a manifestation of that same anger here in our own country. The global warming of our Earth is for me a mirror image of the pile-up of financial excesses, changing demographics and sectarian extremism of many sorts.
In 1969, I read The Human Zoo by Desmond Morris as did most of my friends and it was often in our conversations. Morris predicted the kinds of things that are happening now as cities became more and more crowded and fewer humans were living in what he called “a natural environment.” I’ve been thinking about his book as I have watched the current thousands acting out of inner rage as they join mass demonstrations.
I just finished reading People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, a gift from one of my many visitors here on Tybee Island. It is fascinating historical fiction in which a book conserver tries to follow the history of a 500-year-old Hebrew Haggadah by the tiny things she found in the book: a butterfly wing, a cat hair, a wine stain and some salt crystals. There are four stories that all touch on religious persecution— mainly of Jews—in the Holocaust, the Inquisition, slavery and other rages of the past. No religion or country has been immune to these evils. Fortunately our history —and this book—is just as full of stories of compassion and goodness.
So where I am going with all this doom? I started this blogspot as an adjunct to the themes I explored in my memoir with a particular emphasis on relationship and caregiving. But as the weeks have gone by I have found myself examining life on the other side of that relationship: my years of life as an older single woman. As I examine my life I am also fascinated by disparate things that make connections in my mind and my experience. Ideally I’d like to start a conversation with others who read these posts and probably see similar things I have missed.
So here is the connection this week, however tenuous it may seem. I was raised with the oft-repeated quotation, “If you are not part of the answer, you are part of the problem.” It has been both a motivator and a weight around my shoulders, but on balance it has been a good thing for me to try to be part of the answers. However, at this stage of life there is little I can do about anything. Instead I have tried to cultivate compassion and contemplation as something the elders of society can do to affect the spiritual climate we all live in. This is sort of a parallel to doing everything we can to reduce our personal carbon footprints.
I find that most of my peer friends are feeling that same pull and perhaps that is simply part of the passage at the end of life. And so it happened that another one of my visitors, closer to my age, also gifted me with a book called Anam Cara by John O’Donohue. I have just started it, but clearly it connects to Decrescendo as he explores friendship, affection and relationship in the light of Celtic Wisdom. I found this sentence in one of the early pages, “Most fundamentalism, greed, violence, and oppression can be traced to the separation of idea and affection.” I put my bookmark there and stopped to come to the computer and write this post. I’ll have to think about that sentence some more.
Perhaps contemplation is truly the work of the elders. But it is also mighty nice to sit on the porch and knit with a friend, or to enjoy seeing the young girls in their bikinis, laughing as they walk down the street.