Friday, June 18, 2021

The Summer of Our Discontent

… is a title I fervently hope we will not use come September. While no ostrich in the sand when it comes to climate change, still I’m particularly sensitive to the dire predictions and find it hard to face the end of life as we know it on this planet. I suspect I’m not alone in this. I do have some unfounded faith that there are larger spiritual forces at work that will help pull us back from the precipice, but not naively so. I take seriously the punch line of this joke: 


A novice yogi was taught by his Master  that God would provide. One day he sat in the middle of a road in deep meditation when a man riding an elephant approached and shouted at him to get out of the way before he was trampled. The yogi thought:


“God is good and the universe is beneficent and I am one with the whole cosmos. Why should I worry about a mere elephant? God will take care of me.”


The elephant reached the young man and swept him briskly away with his trunk into nearby bramble bushes, where he emerged scratched, bruised and severely injured. He crawled to the Master and said, “You told me that God would provide! Look what happened!”


The Master replied: “Did I not teach you that God lives in all things? That the elephant driver is God and the elephant is God and you are God?”


“Yes, Master.”


“Therefore, that was God on top of God shouting at God to get out of the way! Why didn’t you listen?!”


In other words, we have to do our part. And facing what lies ahead is step one.


So this is just to say that normally, summer for me, a lifelong teacher, is the essence of life lived well, with leisure, family barbecues, fresh corn and tomatoes, peaches and cherries and fresh-picked blueberries, lazy days on a beach, walks in the woods, floating on a lake looking up at the clouds, the bells of the ice cream truck, fireflies at night, August meteor showers, long lazy days outdoors getting off the wheel of busyness and letting summer soak in. 


And yet now I face it all with a bit of dread. Now summer is starting to mean wildfires out of control, hurricanes, record heat-waves, higher sunscreens. Instead of the invitation to relax into it all, I’m finding myself just a little bit tense with anxiety about what’s to come—not so much wondering if it will come, but when and at what intensity. It’s not a happy feeling. 


I don’t believe in mere wishful thinking, but I do believe in the need for hope, coupled with the actions of naming the elephants in the room and then listening to their warnings and acting accordingly. With a President who cares about this and isn’t hiding, with a population feeling the first-hand effects and less-inclined to deny, there are some glimmers of a more optimistic view. In another words:


Biden ain’t hidin’, on this you can rely

With scientists he’s sidin’ and refuses to deny, 

(Okay, stop me before I resume my Dougie-Fresh wannabe-rapper identity.)


Meanwhile, my fervent hopes for a happy summer.  

P.S. The morning news after I wrote this? "Tropical storm Claudette swamps the Gulf Coast." Aargh!

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