Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ghandi and bees: how to save the earth

The bees are making paths only they can see in my mandarin tree. Flower to flower, gathering pollen on their legs like old ladies carrying shopping bags. They dance in the sun to sound only they can hear, move back and forth in steps older than time; they are ancient.

I watch from my laundry room, washing my hands in the sink.

I think of the age of bees. The age of gathering pollen and passing pollen and making the flowers bloom and the act of bringing life, and I know that I don't understand it all. But it is beautiful.

I watch the bees and think of the planet, dying. Dying at our hands, dying if we do nothing. The science reports everywhere agree; news and pictures call chaos from all their corners. And I wash my hands in the sink and feel outraged and heartbroken because 7 billion of us aren't marching in the streets. We aren't all singing the land and sea back to health, tending, caring, mending. We aren't saving the earth together, standing with our hands outstretched.

I think of Ghandi. I think of civil disobedience. I think of the power of a collective Us. What if we all stopped? Refused to do anything else until the planet was safe?

What if we lay down in front of every choice that demeaned and starved and spoiled the earth and said, No More Please.

Would we ever be so brave?

Civil disobedience—Ghandi practiced it. Rosa Parks too. The guy in Tianamen Square. All it takes is a steadfast and polite refusal to accept what is, a refusal to accept what other people say cannot be changed. What if we practiced that kind of refusal without retribution, anger, vitriol? What if we said No without shouting, without fists in the air or punches thrown? What if we all said No, repeatedly, spoke the type of No where people might actually listen.

Could we do that?

Could we lie down together, a sea of us, side by side, tips of fingers touching? Walk the road together, miles of us, shoulder to shoulder, in peace? Speak together, our voices one long, collective song? Sit down in simple, massive barricades and refuse point blank to accept the kind of destruction that makes us weep, the kind that could leave us with no planet left to protect?

Could we be so united?

Could we be so calm?

Could we be so wise?

I see, so clearly, the path we could follow. The song we could all hear, the one we could all move our feet to, the steps we could take. All of us, dancing or still. All of us making a difference. It is far, far simpler than we choose to believe.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

If you asked me

So my last post was a bit abrupt… After being away, AGAIN, for over a month, there should have been some, you know, light chat maybe, maybe a kiss on the cheek and a 'How have you been? You've been well? Good! And the kids? How are they? How's work? Nice, nice, I'm so pleased to bump into you!'

And we would have smiled and been so glad to see each other. And then you might have asked me How I Was Feeling, and you might have asked, "Are you Okay?"

Would I have been honest?

Would I have said, "Well…some days have been glorious. Other days … have felt raw, like each pore hurt."

Would I have said, "Some days I've felt that the world's ugliness is too ugly. Some days I've thought, I can't live like this! All the unkindness. It's impossible to bear."

Would I have said, "Some days it's like I carry the hurt of all the others. I feel so much, too much, for the animals, the trees, the children, the ocean, the innocent, the war-torn, and the lost. I think about them at night, when I wake and through the day… and it's like their voices are clattering inside, calling out. But their voices are my voice too, and it's my confusion, my hurt, my sorrow too, because I can't explain all the ugliness to my kids; I can't explain it even to myself. I can't make it okay.

Those days are harder than others."

Would you have been a bit lost for words?

But then I would have smiled and said, "Every single day though, literally every single day, I have laughed."

And I would have said, "Every single day, every second of my days, is filled with love."

And I would say, "I feel so grateful for that."

And then I would tell you something pure and personal.

"Every single day," I would say, "begins and ends with one goal: Be Kind. Be the Kindest, most compassionate person I can be."

Well, you might laugh a little then, because in that moment I would totally sound like a Hallmark card.

(And I'd laugh too, because I always laugh when other people laugh, and even when they don't. I do a lot of laughing, actually, and a lot of smiling in between.)

And you might say, "Every day? Seriously? No-one's that perfect!" and secretly you might have thought, 'Dude. Who can be kind every day? I mean, everyone's got to crack at some point.'

I'd say, "I'm not saying I'm perfect—I totally mess up sometimes. But I catch myself, sometimes even before I mess up. Those are nice moments—choosing the kinder path as it shows itself. And I say sorry, a lot more than I used to."

I would keep talking then, because I'd be getting on a roll. And I would hope you were listening still, because I'd be sharing what I care about the most.

"Kindness…it's everything; it's my daily, simple goal. It's the core of who I am and want to be. It's not even that hard, once you start—my kids are kind almost 100 percent of the time, and they do it instinctively. And they're not even boring—all that kindness and compassion and they're still really interesting, funny people."

And then I'd get this wild, hopeful light in my eyes. I'd lean forward intently and say this:

"Imagine. What if every day, people thought, "Hey.…What is the kindest, most thoughtful thing I could do today? What if they then went and did it—imagine how beautiful the world could be."

I'd say, "Imagine a world where kindness always won. What if instead of hurting, we stopped and thought, How would that feel, if this hurtful act or cruel word was said or done to me? What if we lived as though we were the Other? What if we spent our time looking out instead of looking in?"

And I would confess, "I know I'm not perfect. There is no perfect. I think of me often, just like everyone else. I want to publish my novel. I want to ride my bike and go to the movies and get a foot massage and not have to make dinner some nights. I want to be loved.

But I also want to be MORE.

I want to love back.

I want to be of service. I want to speak out against ugliness. I want to Be Kind today and all days.

I want to put Kindness in a dropper, with all the others who seek to be kind; I want to plant it drip by sweet drip on the plants and in the sea and on the sidewalks where it will spread out in great ripples. The kindness would be impossible to miss then, because there'd be so many of us, smiling and hopeful, droppers in hand, spreading love.

Imagine that. Just imagine that." I would say.

At least, that's what I hope I would say, if I was standing there in front of you,

and you asked me How I Was.

Friday, September 13, 2013


I have no time for ugly things. I have no time for hurting others, no time for ugly words, no time for turning a blind eye to suffering, no time for senseless violence, no time for being quiet just because this is the way things are. I have no time for doing nothing merely because there is too much to do, no time for looking away merely because looking is so hard. 

But…the ugly is all around. Sometimes it weighs you, wants to grind you to a nub; it wants to claim you. What do you do? What do I do?

All I have against the ugly are my own infinitely tiny steps, my own small voice, my own actions. How can they be enough, in the face of everything? Somehow, sometimes, they are. Enough for me to get from waking moment to waking moment. And then I see the others, walking too, speaking too, acting and making their own tiny dust mote miracles. Here I am, here we are—here we shout!—all we mere specks, speaking out.

And I am lifted by wonder.