It has been a rainy, muddy, humid and all-round mucky week here in Baton Rouge. When the air is saturated with water, everything becomes harder: working, driving, breathing, having a good curly-hair day.
The Polish hen is walking around with a soaked crest, looking pathetic. I’ve been feeling angsty too, looking forward to less frizz and deeper breaths.
What a mess. It’s hard to follow the news these days. Everyone seems so angry, so frightened, so sad. It feels wrong to be calm in this storm, happy for no reason. It feels like people expect one to be outraged and combative about something, otherwise one is to blame for not doing enough, for not caring enough. And yet, there is a quality of care that opens one up, extending one’s awareness beyond conceptual cocoons to the whole scene at hand, to the way the world shows up in its totality. From here it’s not all political, or evil, or human, or overwhelming. A lot of life is quietly scuttling away in the undergrowth, beneath crinkling leaves. A lot of it is lovely and warm, nourishing and delicious, cool, indifferent, horned, acrid, bioluminescent, venomous, liminal, responsive to wavelengths of light and frequencies of sound that are not experienceable by humans from the inside out. A lot of it is microbial, cellular, ethereal, metaphorical, inaccessible, invisible, imaginative, mysterious. And it all is, and so it is. The good together with the bad, showing up against each other, as each other.
My biologist friends and artist friends and mad friends all know what I’m talking about. My parent friends and philosopher friends know. They all work patiently, loyally, beautifully in service of Life, as do so many others. I owe them a big debt for helping me See.
A dust storm is blowing in from the Sahara Desert, of a volume and density so massive it has not been witnessed this side of the Atlantic for fifty or sixty years, they say. Coming from Cyprus I know very well what the world looks like from within a Sahara dust haze, I recognize the faded pinks and ochres with which it paints the scene. Like everything, the dust comes bearing contradictions: worse air quality, reduced risk of hurricanes, rich minerals for plants and algae, less visibility, striking sunsets, more difficulty breathing. To add my voice to the broken record of my new age brethren, this year the (natural) system seems intent on helping us realize important truths. Nora Bateson writes in her beautiful book ‘Small Arcs of Larger Circles’: “We are water. We are air. We grow, we bloom, we seed, we wilt, we die. There is a false separation between humanity and nature”. Pandemic, climate crisis, racial injustice, dust storms. The world is reeling within the same atmosphere. We keep showing up against each other, as each other.
I feel myself intensely scattered across the globe like dust, fertilizing all its wounded places with mineral concern. This is my world. In my mind’s eye ocean plankton bloom far and wide to feed the hungry fish, the rainforest grows thick and leafy. Prairie grasses are swaying in the wind. Collectively we take a breath, and fall back in love with aliveness. Tomorrow with the first rays of sun I wake up fresh and giddy, to give of myself and dream the world anew.