Our ginger cat made the strangest sound tonight…while squatting over our brand new day-to-a-page diary where we've just begun to write the many, many things we have planned for the coming homeschool year. You see, Term One is about to begin, and all the kids' classes are about to get going. Circus class and Band and Piano Lessons and Tennis are in their flashy shorts, some jogging in place, packed with the others at the starting line, their toes against the paint. People in this house are getting pretty excited about that.
"Woah," we said. (About the cat noise, I mean, not about the classes, although I know they will be fun)
And we whisked the cat to the floor and watched as he upchucked all over the tiles.
Afterwards, he repositioned himself and went for Puke Number Two. And then he just kind of sat there, in that post-upchuck daze we all know (don't we?) and really, really don't like.
I said, "Huh. I bet you feel better now, buddy."
I am sure he did, poor guy. But then…my husband and I looked at each other. This was the special moment one of us got to put their hand up. Who'd be so brave?
Well, my husband, the hero, went for it. He grabbed the paper towels, and with a swift and practiced motion, began to unroll great reams of paper for the Mighty Clean-Up.
With the swift and practiced thinking of a lifelong environmentalist, I said, "Hey. Why don't we just use the dustpan instead? And maybe the litter scooper thingy? That should work."
(In real life, I called it the Poop Scooper. But I wouldn't like to cheapen this blog by calling it that here).
My husband was fine with that. With a swift and relieved motion, he put the paper towels down, stepped (far) away from the puke, and let me do my Save The Planet One Paper Towel At A Time thing.
It was so easy, two swipes with the scooper and dustpan, and a quick scrub of the floor with dishwashing detergent and the job was done. Voila. And the roll of paper towels lived to see another day.
Which got me to thinking!
About how easy it is to grab a paper towel to wipe a mess instead of a sponge you'd then have to rinse or a dustpan you'd have to go and clean.
How easy it is to throw wet clothes in a dryer instead of stepping out to the line to dry them in the sun.
How disposable things are, mobile phones and television sets, junky toys and all those bottles, cans, jars and plastic tubs. How easy they are to buy, and replace, and buy, and replace.
And that got me to thinking some more…
about where everything, all these Things, come from. And how we are connected to them—sometimes only distantly, invisibly, but still and always, connected.
How a paper towel comes from a tree, a lot like that one on the street or in your back yard or the one in the Amazon Basin that helps you breathe.
How the sun is always there, constantly shooting down heat like a dare devil, blasting wild uv rays on our skin, and absorbing moisture magically from clothes without a second thought. How easy it is to use this Great Ball of Fire, the thing that gives us sunshine and makes the daisies bloom.
How someone made that phone, the phone we all seem to carry these days. In a factory, somewhere, someone with worries and wants put the pieces together.
And someone operating a machine somewhere created that glass bottle.
And that bottle, well, it came in part from sand, shaped and turned somehow into glass…
and that sand came from years of shells or rocks, rubbing against one another in a simple silence.
And we walk on beaches and trust those beaches will always have that sand, those timeless tiny rocks, that, if you're lucky (and the sand is fine and white enough), will squeak under your toes as you walk.
It is all connected.
Bottles and sand…connected.
Cute kittens and cute lambs… connected.
Canned tuna and those mega-fishing trawlers…connected.
Plastic and pollution…connected.
Trees and paper…connected.
Choices and consequences…connected.
Sometimes it makes you want to sit down and take a moment,
once you see the tiny lines,
the spider threads that interweave between you and me and him and her and it and that and those.
When you see how each action, each choice you make contributes to that web.
It's dazzling. And it's beautiful.
And it's scary and it's sad.
But once you see,
it's hopeful, too.
Because the Earth is an extraordinary, living thing…and we are part of the Earth.
We are the living web. The trees and lambs and daisies and rocks and the vibrating worries of a woman on the other side of the world?
Connected, incredibly to you, as you sit here, reading these words. And to me, as I write them and breathe the air we share.