Tough times to be Earthlings … no??
But, here we still are.
We are still here!!
I had an … interesting experience today, going downtown on the streetcar. Always immersed in, impossible to be divorced from, current context:
Recent shooting in Florida, of two women. Apparent motive? The two women were born female.
Climate catastrophe – ramping & ramping & ramping. In myriad ways & locations. (I am not even attempting to “keep up” with all the storms, floods, forest fires, etc. 🙁)
Political nightmares to left & right.
Challenges in my personal life.
Yada yada yada.
So, I’m on the streetcar. We’ve already been delayed – sat impotently on Queen St. for 15 or 20 minutes – because of a stupid fender bender.
It’s raining cats & dogs.
& I’m running late.
This … person … gets on at Parliament St. In the rear door, near where I am seated, ¾ of the way down the car. Wearing, like, a hazmat suit? & a mask covering … his? face. He climbs on with the suit & mask & a gym bag. Mutters some things under his mask; one can’t make out what he is saying. Goes somewhere behind me, to the end of the car, likely, where I can’t see him(?).
My mind starts going. “Yikes. This is kinda creepy. Who IS this person? Why the mask?? & the gym bag big enough to be carrying …. What if…” & my imagination runs away on me a little.
So I’m feeling pretty on edge, which, for the record, is not the way I’m used to feeling in Toronto. (White privilege? Yes. Guilty, definitely.)
I think “Oh, okay, what the hell. So I get shot?
(I’ve had, & have, a full, rich life, you understand. I’m an old geezer now. All the boxes that matter to me have been ticked.)
But, also knowing I had only about 3 more stops to go.
More happened. A few people coming up from behind me to stand near the door. Did they maybe not feel like being back there, with Mr. Weirdo? (I do not look behind me, to check this out. Fear…)
I get up to get off at Victoria St. I turn my head to the right & look back. Mr. Mask Dude is sitting, sprawled across the back seat. He has his legs open wide. He’s spread himself out back there to take up as much room as humanly possible, or so it appears. (“Man-spreading” to an extreme.)
He winds up getting off at Victoria St. too, but after me. I’m already exiting the doors when he makes some noise under that mask & gets up to get off. As I quickly cross the intersection, I look back & see he is headed in the other direction.
All of it pretty off-putting. Pretty damn sure I was not the only person who felt mighty uncomfortable. (Funny, though, as I think about it in retrospect. None of us said anything. Likely we were all in fear mode. Looking out for our own safety.)
Luckily, nothing awful happened. No disasters.
I slosh through the wet downtown streets. Still raining cats & dogs.
The sort of awful day one wishes one could just climb under a blanket, pull up the covers, & make the world disappear.
I go on to have a pleasant outing, as planned.
As I sit on another (very crowded) streetcar, heading home, I see I’ve received texts from a couple people I care about. One of them a very pleasant surprise. This cheers me up. 🙂
Once I get a seat, I pull out my copy of Marrow – Love, Loss, and What Matters Most. Oh, what a treasure this book is! I read over the chapters ‘The Word’ and ‘Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.’ Elizabeth Lesser’s words (& wisdom) really hit the spot for me, as they always do.
I am reminded of how incredibly good simple, “small” things can make me feel.
Like, when I go for a walk. An awesome sensation, almost always, of freedom, of possibility.
When I accomplish something – even some really “small” thing. (Like this morning – I got a batch of chickpeas cooked up in the presssure cooker. Felt great!) The task is minor, but worthwhile. A sense of achievement need not involve earth-shattering efforts, I have learned.
Conversation. A really good conversation can make you feel like a million bucks … you know??
A human exchange on the streetcar (one that does NOT involve masks, or fear, & oh my, could I write a whole series of essays called “One day on the streetcar/subway,” oh my; public transportation is a real trip; it really, really is) – like the guy on that ride on the way home today who told me & the guy beside me that one of us had dropped something. A tiny, human exchange on a crowded streetcar full of people trying very hard indeed to NOT be in contact with one another.
My take? We humans are, at bottom, rather simple creatures, I think.
It is still the “little” things that can really make our day.
&, for now, at least, we are still here!
A few quotes to throw in (yeah, I got a little carried away…)
“The miracle is this – the more we share, the more we have.” ~ Leonard Nimoy
“Only connect. This is how we make meaning. This is how we learn to think as Nature thinks.” – Gregory Bateson, anthropologist
“The achievements which society rewards are won at the cost of diminution of personality.” – Benjamin Jowett (1817-93), English classical scholar
“Where there is ruin, there is hope for a treasure.” ― Rumi
“Out beyond ideas of rightdoing and wrongdoing, there’s a field. I’ll meet you there.” – Rumi
“Learn the alchemy true human beings know. The moment you accept what troubles you’ve been given, the door will open.” – Rumi
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ~ Rumi
“Expect nothing; live frugally on surprise.” – Alice Walker
“War is what happens when language fails.” ― Margaret Atwood (in The Robber Bride)
from By the Light of My Father’s Smile, by Alice Walker -
“Manuelito laughed. How can you laugh! I asked. Oh Señor, he said. Laughter isn’t even the other side of tears. It is tears turned inside out. Truly the suffering is great, here on earth. We blunder along, shredded by our mistakes, bludgeoned by our faults. Not having a clue where the dark path leads us. But on the whole, we stumble along bravely, don’t you think? And so you laugh, I said. I laugh, he said, waving his hand in the air, attempting to disguise a tear.”
“Activism is the rent I pay for living on this planet.” – Alice Walker
“What’s important is not what’s gone, but what remains.” ~ from the film ‘Home’
“Acknowledging despair, on the other hand, involves nothing more mysterious than telling the truth about what we see and know and feel is happening to our world. When corporate-controlled media keep the public in the dark, and power-holders manipulate events to create a climate of fear and obedience, truth-telling is like oxygen. It enlivens and returns us to health and vigor.” – Joanna Macy, in this item, ‘The greatest danger.’
“Just to live is holy. To be is a blessing.” – Rabbi Abraham Heschel
** see Collections section for postings on grief, near-term extinction, etc. etc. etc.
** Quotation Central has GOBS of inspiring quotations. Scroll through the list!