There are all kinds of words for today. Sad. Disappointed. Hot. Homesick. Tearful. On edge (okay, two words). Overwhelmed. Disappointed. De-flated. De-pressed.
There’s not much to write about right now that isn’t negative. And since I’m traveling and staying in very close quarters with a very negative and self-righteous and critical relative, it’s hard to escape my own tendencies in that direction. I want badly to point the finger. I have pointed the finger. I am pointing the finger… but as teacher and writer Byron Katie says, when we point the finger, there are always three fingers pointing directly back at us. (Try it, you’ll see…) My judgment of this relative is pretty much no different than the judgments she hurls about and that make my skin crawl and my belly tighten. So what if it is a matter of degree. It doesn’t really matter… though I want it to… desperately.
So much of the time, life just doesn’t make sense. Sometimes, walking around, doing life, I feel like I’ve been dropped into an alien world, one that I don’t understand, that I’m not a part of, that I have no desire to be a part of. Sometimes, I wonder how we go on about our daily business, or how I can even write how sad and disappointed I feel when half a world a way, in Japan, one of the worst natural disasters in known history is playing out, thousands lost, millions suffering and terrified… and now compounded by a nuclear threat of unthinkable proportion. And that’s just the suffering that’s front and center in the news right now…
On a five-day spring training trip to Arizona, sitting at a ballgame, listening not just to my own inner bitching about it being too hot and not being able to see home plate because the guy in front of me has on a big hat, but also to those around me moaning and complaining and angry because the pitcher’s given up a couple of runs (it’s preseason, for god’s sake, they’re practicing, in training for the real thing), I want to run. I want to scream. I want to hide. I want to shout for it to stop. I want to ask how in the world we (and that includes me) can go on about our daily business, how we can shout for joy at a gap triple or a home run or a double play to end the opponent’s inning as though nothing is happening in Japan or the Middle East or right here at “home.” How it is that we can remain untouched by such unthinkable human tragedy is beyond me. How it is that we don’t stop, even for a second, and honor our brothers and sisters, how is it that our flags are flying proudly at full mast when tens of thousands have died, how is it that we stand, remove our hats for the Star Spangled Banner, and sing God Bless America during the seventh inning stretch without one word… without one word… without one single word.
My troubles are not even a blip on the world’s radar. Truly. I’m depressed. And it sucks. I’m on a vacation I thought I wanted to be on but now wish I wasn’t, with people who are very difficult to be with, and it feels like the end of the world. But jesus god. I have a home to return to, my loved ones and neighbors haven’t been ripped away by a raging sea, my air is clean and safe, there is electricity and water and food on the shelves at the grocery store. In a few minutes I’ll get up, take a shower, go downstairs, order breakfast, head out to look for some cowboy boots, call one of my loved ones to complain about my angry and bitter aunt, board the cushy bus to the brand new stadium half an hour away, built on "Indian" land with "Indian" money, order sweet potato fries and pay four bucks for a small bottle of water, stand for the national anthem, and feel that little tingle inside when I hear the words play ball and see my favorite pitcher take the mound. When we return, I’ll have a nice dinner in a nice restaurant, maybe surf the web or read some of my book, Ram Dass's Be Love Now, then come up to the room, turn on CNN, and watch, mind numbed, heart protected, as truly unfathomable events play out on the other side of our earth.
It is a crazy and mysterious world we live in. Full of heartbreak. Joy. Love. Suffering. The kind of Sorrow my traveling companions, my aunt and uncle, have lived through, the likes of which I pray I never even come close to tasting. Maybe it’s what we have to do to live in it: Distract ourselves. Be critical. Be judgmental. Be angry. Be calloused. Be de-pressed. How else does it not blow us up and blow us open? How else do we walk through our daily lives? Although maybe that is the actual point. That we let it all rip us to pieces, shatter us, let it show us the way, coax us to walk this earth with our hearts raw and tender and gaping, bleeding love and compassion and empathy, and not just for our loved ones and our families and our team and our country, but for all beings everywhere, starting, most importantly, right where it can only start, with our own beings, our own confused, bewildered, innocent, guilty, traumatized, terrified, precious selves.