Sunday, January 5, 2014

Ruminations and Reverie

There have been postings on FB about the increasing dangers of Fukushima. Some say that these are unsubstantiated and others like David Suzuki cite seemingly credible sources about the devastation that the US West Coast is facing. We are beginning to see it in the massive deaths of species of seals, star fish, contamination of salmon and other fishes. Someone with a geiger counter even posted a youtube video of radiation readings above normal levels taken on a beach in LA. And it hasn't rained here while the east coast is in deep freeze.

In the Philippines, I try to keep up with the recovery efforts after typhoon Haiyan but it is very sad to read. Sometimes there are human stories of hope and incredible courage. But mostly it is just too deep for words.

Suddenly tonight I am gripped by despair and I am on the verge of tears but it won't fall. I am holding back. I am groping for words. I turn to music -- sufi, specifically. I light sage. I make myself dance. But I want to write and capture my feelings here. I used to be good at this. It used to come more easily. Facebook has changed all this. I am not sure I like this social media self. I miss my blog entries. I miss the long periods of rumination, the lingering of feelings that are not held back but are invited and teased out of hiding. I miss the old me.

I want 2014 to be the year of opening up, of becoming more courageous, of becoming more vulnerable.

Today we went for a drive because it was sunny and too perfect to be indoors. We stopped at Safari West to check out the animals that you can see without having to pay a fee. There were leopards, turtles, flamingos, monkeys, lemurs, and many more types of fowl that I didn't know the names of. In one of the cages, a blue and green fowl with a red bonnet and orange beak came close to the fence where I stood and it started talking. And for a minute we chatted. I imagine he was telling me that he or she was glad to see me and was glad to be acknowledged and not just gawked at. This is what love is.

We drove by vineyards and hills that are brown and crisp due to the drought. We talked about the cattle that have nothing much to graze on; of ranchers having to buy water and hay. Hay suppliers can sell for about 45-day but after that who knows? The snow pack is also low and Los Angeles depends on this for their water.

Sometimes I think we are really screwed.  I see all the mothers pushing strollers and I wonder what they are thinking?. Or I hear news of the Iglesia ni Cristo building the biggest stadium in the world in Bocaue, Bulacan that can seat 50,000 and I wonder what their leader Manalo is thinking. They boast about the stadium as earthquake proof and there is a Discovery Channel crew that is already making a documentary about it. What are they thinking? And right here, my friends comment loudly about the new casino and say "what are they thinking?" Indeed.

I try not to dwell too much on the macro. After all, I have a life to live -- locally, organically, sustainably, I hope. I have students to teach but what I teach depends so much on understanding the macro and how it is all connected and related. I want to stimulate creative imagination of a possible future given what they will be inheriting from the older generation: contamination of ground water from fracking, stronger tornatoes, typhoons, salination and erosion of soil, bee die-off, overfishing the ocean, Fukushima, overpopulation. The list goes on.

Sometimes I wish I am not this old and I wish I do not see and know all these. Wouldn't it be better to just focus on raising a family, making a middle class income, a middle class suburban life, taking vacations once a year, donating to charity, eating healthy, recycling my garbage? Oh. I do that already.

At the posh restaurant today in Sonoma, we sat to three 20-somethings. They were talking about their favorite places. One said Copenhagen. One said Spain. I smelled their white privilege - there I said it. I also noticed that the waiter brought them a plate of olives as soon as they sat down. I looked around and everyone around my table had their olives. We didn't get any. Hhmm. What am I doing here??

I long for a quiet and non-conflicted life. Cal has cultivated this and I am 10 years behind. To him, the chickens, the garden, the church, sudoku, and football -- keep him grounded. I vicariously pick up on this and work on getting better. I do not spend as much time with the chickens but I do get out there to pick the lemons, pull the weeds, pick herbs. And cooking grounds me. I cooked so much this past holiday season that I realized I needed new anti-fatigue kitchen mats! Imagine that, all these years I could have been standing on cushioned mats and not suffer aching feet and back after long hours of standing over the sink.

Anyway, how to live a life of active hope as we face the sustainability crisis of our times.

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