RUMINATING IN THE NIGHT
The news about California (Thank “god” it’s not bad this time), the necessity of a general having to prevent war by a deranged president, a change in meds, the loss of a doc, the coming of winter — the whole thing can be overwhelming. I’m overwhelmed. So what? I settle for little stuff: should I worm the cats, is this a good day to take the trash to the roll-off, which books should I discard as just taking up space?
Anything to keep thinking about being an old lady who begins to lose the edges of ideas and doesn’t want to be around other people, even when they come over and do such a good job of fixing my windows and I basically like them. I mean the reality of the things I should have done over the decades and the plain fact of who I am in a small town far away on the prairie — on purpose — is hard to accept. I still feel as though I ought to have something so significant to write in a little tweet or blog that it will change the world. It NEEDS changing.
I’m not a feminist. Raw anatomy and derived cultural gender stuff are not enough to explain everything. Even the evil of assaulting the bodies of achieving young women demands to know why these people and their families had such an enormous need to succeed that they would tolerate “anything.” Don’t tell me that people didn’t know. They always know on some level.
And what in the misbegotten hell has happened to the ethics of doctors that they do things like this? Or defend a diseased old madman? Or why anyone smart enough to be a doctor would prefer a quick genital poke into a near-child to a full relationship with a reciprocating adult? Were there no ethical checks at their med school? I know mechanics who have more standards than that, and we value them or we’d all be crashed by the side of the road. It’s not just a story of about self-indulgence — it’s the whole world system is knocked off its foundation.
My ex-step-grandchildren had to survive a family that crashed in spite of being earnest and virtuous people in a steady community. I’m not sure what the root cause was. Their priests worked hard to help them. One died, like their mother. The whole story unfolded, every ugly thing, but they mostly stayed employed and at least graduated from high school. Still, death came. What should I have done? What could I have done? Divorced, gone, When you’re 82, you lay out the Tarot cards and wonder what they mean in retrospect, where the past was no less mysterious than the future.
If it’s the “big picture” it’s about cities, technology, winnowing out those who get lost when the world changes. If it’s individuals, the game becomes “what’s your price?” as we used to play as an adjunct to acting class. (What ever happened to Larry Smith with his red hair and passion?) To get into the acting game we knew we would have to focus so hard that our “price” for giving up a part might be as simple on a cold snowy night when there were casting calls across town as a hot cup of coffee at home. Or it might be giving up a house. Larry urged us to think about it and use our consciousness to keep regrets from closing us down.
There will always be regrets because there will always be choices. But I’m grandiose. I do not want to be pinned in a box labeled, “Indians,” or Montana or church or “Bob Scriver’s third ex-wife” or the flood-plain lady or dog-catcher — all of that is real and counts towards my shaping and growth. But those categories are too easy, too determined, too simple to understand.
In some ways, as when I read Asma or Ingold, I need their new words and structures of connection because so much is now influenced by sweeping Star Trekkian knowledge our technology has brought over us in a tsunami. No longer can we circle the wagons and survive by assuring each other that it’s enough. Little indignations and defenses are useless on a broad prairie of existence that is slowly warming beyond our endurance.
On the other hand, simple sensation is the substrate of existence and it is a major mistake not to know the smell of fresh earth in new rain. I’m reading Jon Tester’s autobiography and he comes back again and again to his mother’s love of that smell.
“Petrichor is that Earthly smell released by the first rain after a dry spell. In the 1960s, two Australian scientists coined the term from the ancient Greek words for “blood of stones.”
But it’s more than that: it’s the smell of all the living things in the earth-cortex of the planet. We’ve paved too much of it, poisoned, exploded, drilled, hauled away too much of it. No more need to establish that — just the need to stop.
The shift we need is “religious” in the broadest sense, escaping from the idea that salvation is a matter of fencing the oasis and keeping everyone else out, and instead stepping into the scientific reality that we are all related. Not just like “family” and roles and all that. But simple existence in which you swap DNA with your dog. But that includes the astounding variation in the way that DNA can play out in one time/space.
Everything is unique, everything is in process, everything is affecting everything else, and everything amounts to something we can’t grasp. We just have to live it through. The salvation comes from participation, from belonging.
The other source of life itself is the feeling, the meaning. How do we capture that in our systems and institutions? I don’t think the “rule of law” can work to contain the forces that roll all the marbles over to one corner unless there is real enforcement. How do we empower enforcement without them becoming the new rulers? Things like the power of weapons, our use of money as the measure of everyone, and the constant threat of famine have thrown the natural evolving pattern into patterns of death and extinguishing that we hardly dare think about.
This is where I value being alone. So many rush in to control what I think. Their excuse is I’m in distress. My distress is a motivator. It’s part of the price. I use it. But I really DID appreciate the window covers!