Living in the Anthropocene

Oh this era has its ups and downs, its hopeful movements and its harsh realities. One reason I got so involved with literature and the arts decades ago is because they can usher in another dimension of reality that may inspire us to be better, to celebrate life, to watchdog and correct the wrongs. Watching the Oscars the other night, I was reminded of this. Several movies on the nominee and award-winning list (Spotlight, The Big Short, Racing Extinction, The Revenant, etc.) highlighted corruption.

And I was both horrified at the inherent racism still in the movie award industry yet moved when Leonardo DiCaprio finally won an Oscar and used his time to thank many people–then talk more about the movie he won best actor for, The Revenant, and the messages that the movie gave. One of them was how humans have impacted the world–fur trading and the onset of colonialism and manifest destiny, for example. Such practices (destroying original worlds that consisted of forests, clean rivers, wildlife, native peoples) eventually led to climate change, and it is within this world I was born and raised under a somewhat auspicious yet suspicious canopy. While my parents were loving and nurturing (for which I’m eternally grateful), I was born into a very strange world to say the least. The religious community around me seem to have good intentions but was somewhat successful at indoctrinating me, a young, shy, socially backward tomboy, with good parables that were told as realities instead of lesson-learning stories. I still struggle with fact and fiction from growing up and have crawled away from literal interpretations, finding the metaphors more trustworthy and less critical/judgmental/hypocritical.

Then there was also the fact that I, like many others, was born into a family that had worked its way from near poverty to affluent living, which, for so long I was unaware of but now see thoroughly, that even though my family was not materialistic as many of the Joneses, they were in a way. How many televisions and cars did we own? What was our carbon footprint? Given that this same household was filled with learning, creativity, and support, I know I should be thankful. But even now I long for getting out of the tendril holds the fossil fuel economy has enslaved us to be in–I am getting older but hope that in future generations, green innovation takes over and renewable energy takes off. In the meantime, our personal lifestyles have adjusted to newer info. We carpool, transit, and walk. We run. I do not eat meat anymore. We are hyper-aware of the groceries we buy (are they local, do they use GMOs from a corrupt company, and so on). My husband and I are both professionals in our careers, and we aren’t “hippies” or “luddites” or any of the supposed derogatory names thrown about for people who care what they eat and care about their world. Neither are we the insufferable types that are so arrogant about things (see a funny example in the movie Away we Go for what I mean) that while trying to do the “right” things they forget the simple notion of humanity.

But right now, today, that whole idea of a good future world seems so nebulous at times. I will continue to promote the important actions of tending to our natural world and I’ll continue to push for the literary stories that shape us to understand why it is important, and that help us cope, but it is Super Tuesday, which is kind of like Super Bluesday this very odd year. I am totally getting it right now that we may not ever get the sustainable planet we should work toward–but then the wise words start floating around, words by Margaret Mead and Anne Frank and John Lennon and Martin Luther King, Jr., and even Dr. Seuss. Or my favorite:

“Dripping water hollows out stone, not through force but through persistence.” -Ovid

And I know I’ll continue to do the little I can like so many millions of others are.

Yet now I keep coming back to this extreme amazement that Donald Trump, a racist, narcissist, arrogant, unstable, bankrupted many times over man is being seriously considered by anyone as a potential president of the United States, the same country I was nourished into what I hope is a loving, kind individual who was raised to love and accept everyone, no questions–regardless of skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and so on. How is that?

I am now convinced (after having known two other narcissists who have a big following of seemingly blind supporters but yet hardly have anything more important to say than the humble man at the end of the bar–and who are obviously in it for the false notion of themselves as being famous and more important than anyone else) that we are in for big trouble. Even if Donald Trump doesn’t win, the fact that so many people want him to is one of the most serious signs of the trouble we’re headed for. When word came out yesterday of Trump’s background with David Duke of the KKK, I wondered if I had indeed experienced a Bob & Ted moment and traveled back to some other time in the past when humans were being ignorant around race issues. Prejudice and exclusion are based upon fear and hatred. This is not the man to run the country. Yet, it seems possible he will. Even when a few years ago we laughed it off as a big joke!

I just wanted to write this entry to document something that is scary and is actually happening in the world today (amongst the other very ugly things). Lately I’ve been having an everyday crisis of the Han Solo nature where “I have a bad feeling about this.”

Now today, a normal running day, is not going to be one because I can’t afford to take that hour later for lunch as I have to leave early for a dental appointment. I realize too how much running is good for the soul in times like these. Just give me a place to propel forward into space, one foot at a time–a space away from the world, a space with my giant cedar friends.

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