Typically, the pinnacle of my day is a very small thing. Like putting my toes in the grass for the first time since autumn.
I nearly missed the park, and when I saw it, I took the last turn into the parking lot. It was a one-way in the wrong direction, but the park was nearly abandoned and no one honked or even noticed. The breeze blew chilled across the icy lake, but the sun was warm between dark blue clouds. Ducks’ wings whistled overhead, and something splashed in the open water along the shore.
Drawn to connect, I smiled an impish grin. I looked left, right, then back, before I slipped off my first leather shoe. The other shoe and both socks followed. In seconds I was barefoot in the park; skin to skin with Mother Earth. The ground was cold and the moisture seeped up to make mud on my heels. But it felt real, like putting my face against the rain, or catching snowflakes on my tongue.
It wasn’t too long before I was back in traffic headed home to make dinner.
But I was reminded that sometimes it’s the last turn in the wrong direction that brings us down the right path.
I see what we are doing with our fracking, and spillage, and burning, and emissions. And it scares me. When it really comes right down to it, the only thing we want for our children is health, security, and peace.
When I was a girl in middle school the teacher had us read Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles, a 1950 short story science fiction collection. I hated reading because I have always been a slow reader. I digested the words, I built the stage in my mind, and copied down sentences or phrases that I thought were poetic. Meanwhile the other kids would leave me in their dust, teasing about how far behind I was. This book is the only time I remember enjoying reading in all of my school years.
The short story There Will Come Soft Rains includes a poem of the same name written by Sara Teasdale. I was really into poetry back then, and this one haunted me. Every single spring since then, that poem has come to me when I see “wild plum trees in tremulous white.” I am reminded how insignificant we are. We are not killing our planet. Our planet was here long before we were, and it will be here long after we are gone. We are killing our children’s children.
It is painful to include myself in this homicide, yet the evidence is clear. I sit here at my computer, cell phone perched adjacent, feet on soft synthetic carpeting, keys to my automobile hung neatly by the door — everywhere I look are things that must be manufactured, transported, and eventually thrown away.
I feel powerless against the big corporations who drill and spill and break the earth. I go to work, I come home, I reuse, reduce, recycle, and I do the best I can to keep my corner of the world alive. I wonder what I would do in their shoes; the CEOs of the big guys? Could I justify the future of the children for the paycheck I spend today? Would I eat the propaganda without gagging on the truth?
I don’t worry for the earth. The planet sits waiting for the day when we will no longer be here to annoy it. It will build its ecosystems again — maybe different ones, maybe not — but it will rebuild. It will evolve. It will suffer storms and quakes. Then it will rebuild again.
There Will Come Soft Rains
There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;
And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;
Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;
And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.
Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;
And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.
Diet and nutrition have been elevated to a passion equal to that of religion. People don’t just share recipes for fun anymore. They share recipes the way they pass out propaganda listing the benefits of a virtuous life. The recipes include organic, locally grown ingredients, with instructions for storing it in an environmentally friendly method. Cooking anything else for your family will guilt you down to a loathsome, uncaring, gluttonous scum of the earth.
Back when Mom packed my lunch she bought white bread, spread on Miracle Whip, slapped a piece of bologna in it, then packed it up with Fritos and a pop. (Read “soda” if you live outside Minnesota.)
That’s right. My bread was not whole grain, my sandwich spread had lots of ingredients she couldn’t pronounce, and the lunchmeat — well, we don’t want to know. The sandwich sat in a brown paper bag until it’s internal temperature was 87 degrees. But boy, was it good with those Fritos tucked between the doughy-white slabs of Wonderbread! To top it off, the packaging all got tossed in the trash because there was no such thing as recycling.
I’m not saying I want to go back to that, but eating food was fun. You had to go to church if you wanted to feel guilty. Not anymore. There are food priests among us, folks. These are people with deep-rooted beliefs who feel that if you are not eating what they are eating, you are doing yourself — NAY! The WORLD a grave disservice.
It is the food priest’s mission in life to save your nutritional soul, and lead you (kicking and screaming) to health. But wait! There is no eternal life, here. We’re all dying in the end. The goal is to die as healthily as possible — perhaps biking to Whole Foods.
The rite of worship is the meal. It is in the planning, buying, preparation and consumption. Oblivious to other shoppers, meditation of labels takes place smack in the center of each isle. Children are indoctrinated in front of the bananas, blocking all access from other food clergy and heathen alike. Trips to organic farms are carried out like pilgrimages to the holy land. The meal is consumed in solemn reverence of the plants that sacrificed their life.
The food priest also hears confession. They use scary phrases such as “animal secretions” as euphemisms for wholesome sounding ingredients like eggs, milk, and honey. “Refined sugar” equals cookies and muffins.
“Flesh” is the definition for roast beef or turkey breast. The cuisine of our mothers is smugly called “Comfort Food” like a poisonous secret. Sins are encouraged to be confessed using these terms, the worst of which is pink slime, and punishable by up to a full month of liquid detox diet.
Unsought counseling is very often the first indication that you have encountered a food priest. You may experience unwelcome scrutiny over your cheeseburger with grilled onions and fries. The evangelist may laughingly toss out the nickname of “foodie” as if adding an “e” to a word makes it harmless. Druggy. Achey breaky. Owie.
In severe cases, you may be required to refrain from eating food prepared in certain establishments. If it is suggested that you discard of kitchen utensils that have ever touched prohibited edibles, it is very possible you have encountered an actual nutritional cult. This is dangerous, as you may never enjoy eating again, leading to any of a multitude of eating disorders.
Look, I’m glad we all have our religion, democracy, and plenty of nutritional models to choose from. I’m not picking on anyone. Personally, I tend to be nutritionally non-denominational. I love my congregation, as we welcome vegans, ovo-lacto vegetarians, omnivores, Aktins followers, and anything in between. We “pin” recipes, listen to each other rave about menus, and share samples. When faced with a meal, we EAT it, ENJOY it, and share in each other’s company. No one is moping, or preaching, or judging.
I try to do what I think is right for the world, my family, and my body . . . most of the time. Admittedly, I sometimes feed my disposition (which is often a pepperoni pizza with chocolate chip cookies for dessert). How very lucky for me that I have that choice. You may choose to indulge in pomegranate. Some people can only choose from rice or beans. Some can choose from thirst or unclean water. I’m pretty sure some would choose GM corn over starvation.
Which brings me to corn, and anyone who knows me well has heard me say, “Don’t get me started on corn!” So yes, I know the sermon. You’re preaching to the choir. And sometimes the choir is fed up (literally). I’m just asking the food priests to please stop trying to shove their communion down my throat. If I want it, I know where to find it.
Are we absolutely sure the apocalypse didn’t come in 2012 and we missed it? Can we do a head count here? Knowing what to expect might have helped me know where to look. Were zombies supposed to inherit the earth, was Jesus showing up for dinner, or was the earth just going to explode?
What I’m saying is, perhaps the apocalypse did happen, and we were looking in the wrong direction. Is it possible the Hopi fifth world arrived, but it just looks an awful lot like the fourth one? Was a baby born on the 21st of December in 2012 who will change the course of Global Warming? Maybe the apocalypse is somewhat of a gradual movement toward a better world more than the total destruction of the one we know. We won’t really notice it until one day we look back and say, “Hey, didn’t the world used to be a much worse place?”
If you’re looking for doomsday, just check out the morning paper. It’s here. People living their days on earth in hell. Lonely people. Hungry elderly. Children with no one to teach them how to find the good in themselves. Children gunned down in the middle of their play. People living in fear. People with no hope. Not like those days when you wake up and life seems hopeless. I’m talking about a real total depletion of hope. No hope of hope.
It’s 2013. Are you still here? Don’t dread the apocalypse . . . I say we’re ready for it. Don’t wait for it to happen, bring it on! Make it happen! Stop preparing for the worst and start initiating the change. Be the Shift!
Smile. You don’t know what someone else is going through today. Your smile could save a life.
Hold a door. I don’t care if it’s a big burly guy or a someone with a stroller. Common courtesy requests you hold the door.
Give blood. For goodness’ sake get over your fear of needles. You want to know what fear is? Cancer. Liver disease. Major surgery. Car accidents. Premature babies. Losing your loved one. Not everyone can give blood, so if you can, why aren’t you? It’s the ultimate renewable resource!
Treat a child with respect. Children are people, too.
Hold your horn. Try to limit your honking to those situations where some idiot really tried to kill you for the sole purpose of getting ahead in traffic. If he just needs to get over because he didn’t see his exit coming up, for crying out loud, let him over.
Wave. I treat my suburban neighborhood like a rural country road. Ever notice how country folks wave at everyone? We’re all just country folk. We just live a little closer to our neighbors.
Thank. Don’t just say thanks. Say thanks for [fill in the blank]. Thanks for being so prompt! Thanks for telling me that! Thanks for giving me the opportunity to help you! Thanks for sending me that bill . . . okay, don’t overdo it.
Share. Plant a bigger garden than you need. Donate books to a library. Give away things you don’t use. Share your skills. Share your knowledge. Hug more.
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. ~~Theodore Roosevelt
Can you imagine if you woke up this morning, in 2013, and everyone had a shift of global awareness? Be the apocalypse. How will you change the world this year?