Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Nothing Under the Sun in Vain

"Pain and foolishness lead to great bliss and complete knowledge, for Eternal Wisdom created nothing under the sun in vain." -K. Gibran


The divine mundane first: I had a great meeting with my sisters in whiskey last Thursday and a really nice visit with my parents over the weekend. Dad and Judy are just incredible people – thoughtful, creative, inventive, and genuinely caring. If I am ever blessed to be a grandparent, I have sworn to keep them in mind as examples.

Dad crafted a companion piece to the butcher-block table he made me a few years back – it’s a storage cabinet with a tile top and five or six (sorry Dad, the exact number escapes me at the moment) drawers that Duckie can’t push around like she could the plastic storage cabinet I had before. Plus I finally have a place to put potatoes so they don’t grow eyes in two days!

I spent some time re-arranging cooking utensils on Sunday – the new knife set (also from D&J) went in the top drawer, the utensils I used most are in the second drawer, and baking utensils are in the third. Oh and did I mention that the height of this cabinet gives me more counter space? Dad very thoughtfully made it just tall enough for me to work comfortably at it. And it’s too tall for Duckie to get at anything on top. It drives her nuts (hee hee!!!)

Dad also spent his time creating a scrapbook for Duckie of me growing up. It had scanned pages from my baby book, with my mother’s handwritten entries, pictures from my infancy and childhood, and a classic shot of my dad in his hippy days. (It was very enlightening – I had always thought I got the hippy stuff from my mom – apparently it was no surprise at all to my dad when I stopped wearing shoes in college.) Did I cry? I’m sure you can guess the answer to that.


There are new things in my life this year. A new computer at work (&*$^%#&), a new step to my morning routine (replacing the nicotine patch instead of grabbing a smoke on the front porch), new workouts with my buddy just about daily, new habits, a new budget, new resolutions, a new comforter (thanks, Judy – it’s still SO pretty!), and of course, new emotional issues. Or rather, new twists on existing ones.

Sunday was hard once Dad and Judy left. I moved a little farther down the road to acceptance in a critical area of my life, but it’s a rough road sometimes. Over the last few days I have finally come to accept the possibility that someone I love very dearly may not be in my life for as long as I had expected. (Which is the case with everyone, isn’t it? You just never know how long you have with the people you love.)

I know it isn’t true for everybody, but for me, letting go is much more difficult than getting attached. And when you’re trying to let go without giving up, it’s that much more complicated.

So once again, I made assumptions and jumped to conclusions that may or may not have been true about a few things. But maybe that wasn’t so bad after all. I try to hope for the best and expect the worst, but when you really haven’t faced what the worst is or could be, you don’t really have a grasp of that whole concept – and you kind of miss the point of being a realist.


Speaking of realism, I need to express a couple of thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head since the Boxing Day tsunami. As a planet, we have watched the number of dead rise daily in Asia and Africa. It’s been the big news story lately. And not just the number of dead, but also the enormous relief efforts from countries all over the world. I’m pretty ignorant about the details – I have been, to my shame, avoiding the news reports more often than not. It’s very easy to redirect my awareness to other areas in my life (Duckie, especially) and shove the whole subject not just onto the back burner, but into the trash entirely and not think about it at all.

The night the ladies and I met, I said I thought it really brought 9/11 into perspective in terms of disasters and loss of life. Someone else mentioned that 150,000 really isn’t a lot of death when you compare it to, say, the 6 million people who died during the Holocaust or the 1 million people who died in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide.

That just sent chills up my spine. We turn away from so much – as a nation, as a culture, as a species. Why is it that we find it so much easier to intervene during natural disasters than during unnatural ones (when we’re killing each other off, that is)? Why is it that arbitrary political boundaries seem to justify inaction? “Er… hm, well, as long as they’re doing it to each other, why should we butt in? Probably too damn tough to fix anyway.”

I am tempted at times to bemoan the intervention of our country in any other country’s affairs – I admit it, I am tempted, and probably some of you have heard me say so. The more I think about it, the more I believe that everyone dies a little inside when murder is committed. I have always believed that a piece of universal truth resides in every human soul (no matter how twisted), a little piece of the puzzle that is our planet and our existence. Genocide, war, murder, all of it leads to darkness of the soul for everyone, not just for the families who are directly affected by the loss.

I have been tempted to dismiss my own problems and grief as inconsequential to the world at large – tiny and trivial in comparison to the grief and suffering of those in other parts of the world. However, lately I have begun to think of my feelings as a reflection of that world, a microcosm of sorts, where what is happening to the rest of our species is also happening within me. Maybe I got so used to ignoring massacres, mutilations and genocides in the rest of the world that it became easy to ignore the injuries and scarring of my own heart and soul. Vice versa, maybe, what comes first, the chicken or the egg…?

I grieve for all the people who have lost those they love, whether at the hand of another human being or at the hand of Mother Nature. I grieve for my own losses, too. On some level, I am thankful that the recovery from those losses has given me some insight into the shared experience of our species.

I just wish we could stop killing each other off. I wish, as much as I’ve wished for anything, that we could stop hurting each other.


Anonymous said...

Hey girl. Good thoughts. Bunch o'stuff there. As a geologist, many people have asked me about the tsunami, earthquake, etc. Digesting it and regergitating it has been interesting. Good perspective on it all.


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