Monday, March 14, 2011

Earthquake, Tsunami, Nuclear Meltdown

48ยบ ~ a cold rain, a day of gray & mourning, wet, plastered down

Just exactly how much is the world supposed to bear?  Libya, pirates off the coast of Somalia, protesters shot or jailed in numerous countries, baby dolphins dying in scores in the aftermath of the BP oil spill, Afghanistan's "traditional fighting season," an endless war in the Congo, Oklahoma burning and no word on the news, the Northeast flooding in icy snow melt & rain, and now Sendai and Fukushima.  I'm sure I've missed something here. 

I confess, Dear Reader, this post may be grim and disjointed.

I turned on the news today, oh my (to paraphrase the Beatles). On one channel, coverage of Japan and the imminent threat of nuclear meltdown.  On the other major news channel, talk of the NFL breakdown in contract negotiations.  On the one channel, news of 1,000 bodies washing ashore.  On the other channel, news of how a group of men should divide $9,000,000,000 for throwing a ball and hitting each other.  Yes, NINE BILLION DOLLARS.  Obscene.

I confess, Dear Reader, I am a Cubs fan and love MLB.  I do not love the amount of money we devote to our hobbies, our enjoyments, not when teachers are getting the shaft everywhere, and the top 2% continue to outstrip the remaining 98% of us.

There is a heaviness in the air and in my body.  So much pressure at large.  And yet, I am determined not to sink into despair.  I am determined to justify my life on this planet by attempting to leave it a better place than it was when I was born.  When I was an undergrad, I was obsessed with Native American literature, and yet, I suffered from a severe case of white guilt.  Once, we had a visit from a Chippewa man who was a writer, an environmentalist, and a philosopher.  He addressed the audience's white guilt (for we were an ocean of white in front of him).  He said, "we don't want your guilt.  We don't need it."  In essence he said, we have to move past that binary system and come together to heal the world, to do better for our children.  I'm not sure why, but I'm reminded of his statement today, as I struggle with the guilt of living a good & safe life while others around the world, both far & near, suffer.  I struggle with leading the life of a writer, when the world seems to need so much more than poems.

I confess, Dear Reader, in times like these I do turn to poetry, and that may seem a contradiction.  I almost always turn to the closing of Mary Oliver's poem "In Blackwater Woods" from her book American Primitive (Little, Brown 1983).

To live in this world

you must be able 
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
you own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

10 comments:

Nancy Devine said...

the news is beyond bearing, for sure. i'm not quite sure what to do.

sorry we didn't connect in little rock. it was a short stay crammed with conference stuff.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Nancy, no worries, although I do hope we connect in real time somewhere soon.

Supervillainess said...

Dear Sandy,
I'm with you. We must figure out the good we can do, the connections we can make, and try to help in any way we can.
Best, Jeannine

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks,Jeannine. The connections do help and they do matter. BTW, you have the BEST blogger code name.

Kathleen said...

Thanks for the reflection and the solace of the Oliver poem. I, too, turn to poetry for solace. I hope you don't fall into despair, and I see the heaviness as a chance to feel rooted, somber, and here. From here, we can figure out what to do to help, I hope.

Sandy Longhorn said...

As always, Kathleen, thanks.

Anonymous said...

It looks even worse today, and those facebook folks of mine keep chattering on about nothing--except for a few (usually writers and grad school friends) who do talk about the hard stuff. I do understand trying to numb out with the trivial though if that's what people are doing. I feel a lot of despair--and yet outside my window the birds sing on, and the hyacinth blooms.

Tara

Sandy Longhorn said...

Ah, Tara, there's got to be some balance between acknowledging and addressing the hard stuff and enjoying the hyacinths, no? Sometimes I wish I could remain in ignorance though when the anxiety sets in. Thanks for the comment!

Anonymous said...

Yes--ignorance is bliss, and so is keeping focused on the world in front of us. There is totally something good about not freaking out or falling into despair until it is absolutely necessary and helpful. Balance. Yes. Such a good thing, and I am not very good at it. Just got in from a long walk, and am heading out to lunch. Have a good Tuesday! Thanks for mentioning the hard stuff! ~Tara

Sandy Longhorn said...

Mwah, Tara. I'm so glad that you are a part of the world in front of me! :)