Saturday, 19 February 2011

Peering from the Rabbit Hole

Today I’m taking stock of my original mission for this blog, which is short and sweet – to reflect upon the “sundry digressions of the writing life”. I’m sort of doing it, though I’d much rather kick back on my blog and share more fun stuff about writers and writing.

But life happens and I’m going with my gut. I guess I’d classify my small collection of blog entries thus far as rants more than essays.

So be it. At least I’m writing even if I’m not talking about the mechanics or the fun part, publishing and reading. This type of op-ed writing isn’t as interesting as writing fiction and poetry or even creative nonfiction, and it’s fairly new to me. In the past I haven’t piped up much on paper or in pixels, save for one long feature, a few exasperated letters to editors, short local color pieces, and a handful of nature essays.

As I’ve probably said before, I don’t care much for daily journaling and my writing about the “real” world is usually reserved for musing about nature, which seems far more real and precious to me than man’s constructs. But these days, I suddenly find myself inclined to write on reams of trees and across universes of cyberspace about human beings and human doings. These are extraordinary times that call not only for extraordinary measures but extraordinary words as well.

Sheesh.

Unless you’ve been in a coma lately, you’ve noticed that daily headlines and news clips on most any subject vary from the peculiar to the jaw-dropping bizarre. As a connoisseur of novels of all genres and an emerging fiction writer myself, I really couldn’t make some of this stuff up.

But it’s happening. It’s here.

While the Middle East struggles to embrace a more progressive way of life, the USA and the Western world are embracing – well, what are we doing?

I just received an e-mail geared to politically progressive folk about the useless, reactionary bills being supported by the party who allegedly wants to cut spending and restore the constitution. I can imagine this party probably sends out a similar list of bills supported by the party who allegedly will subvert the constitution and turn the USA into a socialist state.

Some of this is just noise that will recede, but popping some of these legislative wheelies is certainly a waste of time when we don’t have much time to waste. Many of these issues have gone under the microscope before. Existing legislation and the U.S. Constitution as we know it has withstood the test of time and served citizens well.

If it’s not broke, don’t fix it, in other words. Some of the noisy issues are really about a system we hopefully might fix if we don’t continue to ignore it – the petroleum technology vs. renewable energy boondoggle that underlies much of the current suffering on our trip down “da Nile.” Way down. But that’s another story.

You wonder if a lot of this noise isn’t just a cynical show put on by pretend legislators to assure us they’re working. As I saw some fairly anonymous person on an energy/economy web site declare recently: “we have a two-party system, the career politicians and us. They win every election.”

Or maybe these clowns are cosmic actors holding up a mirror to us in some great galactic passion play, and guess what, we’re not a pretty sight, either. It’s not easy to embrace the paradox, but rest assured, we live in one.

There are definitely some legislative attempts at “improving” the quality of life for citizens that make one truly pause, though. Within weeks of the assassination of a federal judge and the assassination attempt upon a congresswoman in Tucson,  some “conservative” Arizona legislators sought to test the limits of the  14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution with a state bill calling for required gun ownership. Why? How much further into a tasteless and bizarre rabbit hole must Arizona fall? And this is just one of many illogical actions spreading across our fair land.

Worse, the face of evil shows itself once again in international financial markets – especially those based in London and New York – where cynical speculation on commodities more often than not drives food prices higher, creating more suffering and unrest for the average world citizen.

As if the jellyfish situations caused by a soaring world population, peak oil (some would say plateau oil), diminishing fresh water resources, and climate chaos are not enough. It’s as if these cynical players are saying “let’s just drive another nail into the coffin of a less fortunate nation, a less fortunate tribe, a less fortunate family, a less fortunate child so that we may continue to flourish.”

Fortunately for the fortunate and unfortunate alike, there are courageous people seeking solutions to these and many other problems. Many brave souls are on the ground shining light into dark corners so that the rest of us may see the wizard behind Oz and find our way home.

These folk range from scientists and mathematicians crunching numbers and formulas to everyday people experimenting with sustainable living, to writers, artists, musicians, and visionaries who explore the inner and outer boundaries of what it means to be a five-fingered being. These people are the sundogs that pop out of the dankest fog and shine.

This leads me to the conclusion that our politicians can’t do this. Jesus won’t save us either. Neither will Buddha, Mohammed nor any of the sky beings swoop down to offer us an operating manual or pull us from the rabbit hole. They’ve already kinda done that. Now it’s up to us, the sundogs and the seadogs, what Buddhists call bodhisattvas – no matter what religion we practice – to invent the new paradigm. We ARE the leaders, the healers, the deciders. More paradox.

I just learned about seadogs a few days ago from the wonderful A.Word.A.Day e-mail sponsored by Wordsmith.org. Seadogs are defined as “a faint rainbow-like formation seen in foggy conditions; also called mistbow, fogbow, and white rainbow”. We’ve all seen these and I would simply have called them sundogs. Now I know better and I’m intrigued by both terms, combining as they do all the positive attributes of man’s best tail-wagging, hand-licking friend and the wondrous-on-many-levels attributes of sunlight. Of course, seadogs are also veteran sailors and we are these as well. Like I said, we live in a multidimensional world of paradox.

Who doesn’t look up in awe at a rainbow or understand at gut level the symbolism of the phenomena? Or resonate somehow with the image of a careworn sailor or a lighthouse keeper valiantly keeping the faith?

I can only hope the world will be graced with many stray sundogs and seadogs nosing about, if only to light the faint trail that continues onward and upward. From what I see, climbing out of the rabbit hole will be a mind-bending toughie.

But there’s hope. Hope lives inside us and manifests when we stay connected and do our best work, whatever that may be. “Best work” as in “be the change you want to see in the world.”

I have a feeling that the best change isn’t made via legislation or even on the streets in revolution, but in our own hearts and minds.

Let’s get busy, seadogs!




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