Reposted from Hakai Magazine.
As the environmental problems facing our world compound, despair may feel like a rational response. In her new book, Hope Matters: Why Changing the Way We Think Is Critical to Solving the Environmental Crisis, environmental scholar Elin Kelsey makes an evidence-based argument for choosing hope over despair. Kelsey holds up examples of how ecosystems—including along…An Antidote for Environmental Despair — Hakai Magazine
I didn’t write much in 2020. I never felt like I had enough wisdom to write insightfully about anything important and I lacked the proper frame of mind to write light and witty.
I wish I had the gift of someone like Dave Chappelle who can cut to the quick and make you laugh simultaneously. I don’t.
I’m not sure I feel any wiser or funnier at the moment, but it’s a new year so it can’t hurt to make a new effort.
Last year was hard. Devastating, actually.
This year felt more hopeful, but the hope was fragile, at best, and was swiftly and seriously damaged by the events that took place in D.C. on Wednesday.
As always, I find myself responding to tragic events by questioning everything in hopes of gaining some understanding. This is the bane of my psyche. The need to understand things.
Looking for answers starts with questions, so I want to share some that have been on my mind, not in an attempt to explain them or provide answers, but just to get them out of my head and onto the page. Give them some light.
These are some of the questions that the events of the past year have brought to mind:
- When did condemning violence become a political exercise instead of a moral obligation?
- At what point did we choose to not just edit truth but to abandon it to fit our purposes? Or has it always been so?
- Why do we fear paying higher taxes for universal healthcare more than we fear losing everything in the event of a debilitating accident or serious illness?
- What do we gain by perpetuating national myths about American exceptionalism in the face of massive fails that threaten to rend the fabric of our society and threaten our democracy?
- Why did the folks who thought they were going to save American democracy this week dress and act like characters from:
- A. The Beverly Hillbillies
- B. Call of Duty
- C. A Midsomer Night’s Dream
- When was Dumb and Dumber elevated from adolescent dumbass comedy into inspirational historical fiction?
- Is South Park inspired by Satan or is it legitimate social commentary?
- Can you serve God and Money or is it God or Money? Ditto the NRA.
- What is more authoritarian, condemnation and punishment of the press, political opponents and dissenters, or collecting taxes to fund a more fair and equitable system of government for everyone?
- What isn’t Fascist about politicians, voters and media personalities requiring police protection due to threats of violence and even death at the hands of militant militia members?
- Can we even discuss or debate politics anymore without devolving into demonizing one another, or is it just too much fun the way it is?
- Are you tired of all the drama and chaos yet?
- Are you ready for a change?
Yeah, me too.
Happy New year. Here’s to new efforts to serve, protect and humor each other.
Copyright: 2021 by Ilona Elliott
A NY Times editorial by Margaret Renkyl.
Reblogged from the always inspiring Live & Learn blog by David Kanigan.
The scent of sun-dried sheets fresh off the clothesline can completely change my state of mind. Like the sense of well-being that comes over me when a song from my youth is playing on the radio, the smell of line-dried sheets takes me home to Alabama, back to a time when all my beloved elders […]Enfold Yourself in Small Comforts — Live & Learn
The trees and the clouds are just as beautiful as ever.
The mountains just as substantial.
The oceans as steady.
The stars are as bright
The birds, bunnies and bees carry on in the garden with blissful disregard for upheavals in the world of men.
This sense of self that man seems to possess with such abundance feels like it will be our undoing.
I love God’s world with unwavering passion but the moral constructs of the world of men are a frustration and a misery.
©2020 by Ilona Elliott
Maybe, as he’s getting closer to death, he is hedging his bets…
This got me thinking about how mothers respond to crisis. In most species, they quickly gather their brood under their wings, or in the center of the herd, or back into the den, and they wait out the threat, choosing fight over flight only when it is absolutely necessary.
There are no milestones to mark the days.
No deadlines to meet. No appointments to keep.
Fridays = Shields and Brooks on the Newshour, as always. Fifteen minutes of news commentary that lulls me into believing that the United States is still a tolerant place.
Costco opens it’s doors now from 8-9 am for senior shoppers. Half of me wants to jump up and down about it, the other half hopes they turn me away for being way too young…(I’m not and they didn’t.)
Videos from Yosemite and Yellowstone record that in the absence of humans, Bison, Bear, Wolves and Coyote now roam freely through the streets of our National Parks. Oh to be a fly on the canyon walls right now.
Here in the hood, the grass is Gatorade green. The orchard will likely be in full bloom tomorrow. There is a beautifully constructed but oddly empty new bird’s nest in the rhododendron.
On our daily walks we can’t help but comment on the clarity of the sky and the quality of the light behind the silhouettes of tall trees. Everything seems to have suddenly switched to high-def.
But the exhilaration that normally accompanies Spring is subdued. Everything feels tamped down by bad news, even as the northern hemisphere slowly tilts toward the sun and the natural world enjoys some much needed down time.
We decided not to shop in our local community stores, where we do small scale grocery and hardware runs on a regular basis. There are no social distancing measures being practiced in the downtown businesses. Employees don’t wear masks. Checkout lines are not delineated at safe intervals. Even the lone local police man wanders around in public without a mask.
This is a pretty conservative area and I can sense that some of the natives are getting restless.
My state was one of the first to get hit with the virus and one of the first to institute safety guidelines and then business and school closures in an attempt to contain public spread of the disease.
As a result, our death toll was never what models said it would be before the Governor made those difficult decisions. Because it is working.
But a minority of residents are making a lot of noise about these restrictions. They gather at public rallies designed to flaunt their fearlessness in the face of a dangerous pandemic. In so doing, they are endangering themselves, their families, and their communities.
Some comment on social media that they would rather die than have their liberties taken from them. This is pure ignorance. They have no clue how this virus kills people.
It’s called oxygen starvation.
I’m certain that none of these “patriots” has ever sat at the bedside of a loved one dying from oxygen starvation.
I have. It’s no way to die.
It’s traumatic and terrifying and unholy. Bearing witness to it is a PTSD inducing experience. The sights and the sounds of it will wake you up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night for years.
It’s probably the single most difficult thing about this pandemic for me:
Knowing that people are dying like this, and most often, dying alone.
No loved one can stroke their forehead. No loved one can hold their hand.
And knowing that our doctors and nurses are bearing witness to these lonely, difficult deaths, sometimes after caring for patients for weeks. It’s devastating.
The toll that this pandemic is taking on our healthcare workers cannot be quantified.
We all owe them a huge debt. They are soldiers on the front lines of a horrible battle.
The toll that this pandemic will take on our economy will likely be huge.
I understand that this is all challenging peoples patience, their bank accounts and finances, their careers. Everyone is having bad hair days. Everyone wants a beer and a burger.
But people are dying.
And people are fighting valiantly to save lives–working grueling schedules then sleeping in motels or sending their children to relatives to protect them from what they know is a horrible disease.
Some of them will die themselves. Some will infect their families.
Some will spend the rest of their lives wondering if they did the right thing…If they did enough.
What I’m saying is this:
People are making huge sacrifices for this country right now.
This is not the time to agitate.
This is the time to cooperate.
Take this advice with a grain of salt:
If this is not the worst day of your life, then please, shut up and go home.
Then you will have earned the right to call yourself a patriot.
©2020 by Ilona Elliott
Playgrounds full of red cheeked children.
The freedom to hug and be hugged.
The anticipation of summer concert people dancing on the grass.
A normal day at the grocery store.
A face that doesn’t itch like poison ivy every time I’m in public.
Ditto for the urge to sneeze.
The assumption that my sore throat and headache are nothing serious.
The skin on the backs of my hands.
Gatherings of friends.
The camaraderie and creative buzz of art workshops.
The certainty that we all value the lives of our neighbors more than we value their ability to contribute to our economy.
Leaders who lead with patience, humility and respect for our institutions.
Barack and Michelle Obama.
The idea that America’s legacy transcends our economics and the empire building of oligarchs.
And, ugh, I never thought I would miss this…
Silly, pointless news stories.
Yeah, even that.
Remain safe, be well, stay healthy.
And tell me what you miss.
©2020 by Ilona Elliott
The people in Italy are serenading one another from open windows and balconies. I hope the dying can hear them.
Dio Benedica L’Italia.
A Life after Sixty Series Post
From September to June, on most Tuesdays, I attend Jewelry workshops at the nearby college.
It’s mostly a bunch of old broads and a couple of token guys, almost all of us senior citizens.
The college gives the over 50 “Lifelong Learners” in the community a nice discount on continuing ed classes. I guess they think we need special incentives to get off our tired old butts and do stuff.
It works for me. It primes my creative juices and gets me out of the house and around people.
Because of our age group, at any given time, small talk between students might revolve around such exciting topics as:
Urinary tract infections
Gall Bladder surgery
What to do about chafing thighs–Is baby powder even safe?
I never thought I would get here.
I’m at that age. You know. The one you made fun of when your parents were that age.
The age where you talk about your aches and pains and medical issues with your peers.
UGH! How incredibly boring I hear the young-uns groan.
But wait, I disagree. It’s actually quite fascinating. Think of all the topics represented by the above mentioned maladies:
* Fluid dynamics
* Advanced laparoscopic surgical techniques
*The effects of gravitational forces on the human body
*Advanced medical therapies
*Tort law jurisprudence. (Is a baby powder claim in your future?)
Boring!? HUH! At least we’re not sitting around discussing how to reduce the echo effect in our bathrooms while phone filming our newest hair styling video for YouTube.
But to be honest, I have to admit that sometimes getting old does kind of wallow around in lameness.
Imagine actually stopping the remote on Larry Kings Prostate Report, even for a moment.
Or getting into bed every night wondering: Should I really try to go to sleep? I’ll be up again in fifteen minutes having to pee! Maybe I should just lie here repeatedly torturing myself over embarrassing high school moments again until it’s time to pee.
And you may think I’m being hyperbolic when I say this, but it’s true:
Aging. Changes. Everything.
From the brightness of your teeth to the un-moleyness of your skin to the luster and texture of your toe nails.
It’s unrelentingly lame. And kinda gross.
But as lame as aging is, its even lamer to give in to it and give up.
Because believe me, it would be easy to do some days, when everything from your teeth to your toes aches at some point in that twenty four hour span.
The temptation to just sit down and stay there is real.
Until you see an old man bent over double with arthritis being dragged around the park by a strapping young black lab.
Or a frail looking old lady clutching onto her walker for dear life as she negotiates her way down the sidewalk to the grocery store.
Or an elderly couple hiking in the hills with their walking sticks, their flexible knee braces and their day packs stuffed with CLIF bars and Advil.
These folks are my new heroes. They remind me that I am still relatively young and able bodied, and that my body still functions better than some peoples’ ever did.
They inspire me and remind me that the lamest thing about aging isn’t funky toe nails, or teeth that don’t sparkle, or moles and skin tags, it’s how our society views the elderly.
Instead of wise…strong in the face of adversity…resilient.
But we know. We know we have all taken a beating or two or three, and we still keep going. We know what we’ve learned along the way.
We really don’t need the world’s recognition.
But we wouldn’t mind a little of it’s respect.
And so, like Ma Joad , at the end of the movie The Grapes of Wrath, we know what we’re made of. The world may not see it, but we see it and we recognize it and respect it in one another.
It’s a beautiful thing.
Moles and all.
©2020 by Ilona Elliott