My mind, unsullied and limpid from a relatively good night’s
sleep, I open my portal to the vast pulsing universe to find myself confronted
with more pain, fear, death. There is wild and irresponsible fear about the
spread of Ebola, fear that lumps the hundreds (thousands?) of black African
victims into nameless, faceless statistics, aggregating their lives out of
meaning, and the blaming of other victims, female victims, who are caretakers,
for their purported recklesness. There are Nobel peace-prizes for children that
are survivors and champions of their own and other’s right, while these same
children might be collateral damages in drone strikes that feed a gaping maw of
greed, oil hunger, machines of industry, power and money that erase the
individual histories of thousands, their broken bodies unaccounted for. There
are other broken, burned, bruised and beaten. The 43 missing students in
Mexico, the deathly collusion of government (or its absence) police and
narco-war lords to punish those who speak for themselves and for others, the
other mass graves, the unknown bodies, missing but unclaimed.
How to make sense of it all? My heart hurts, and I cannot
will myself to do the detail-oriented tasks that call to me, the last minute
details to make sure that my probationary review file is absolutely complete,
with no inconsistencies or false claims. Crossing t’s, dotting i’s, tears
streaming down my face for the injustice of it all. I tell my students, weekly,
that there will never be a utopian happy ending, there is no perfect system. We
are, after all, humans, and because of this, we are inherently flawed,
sometimes evil, often selfish. Momentarily kind. There is not a love big
enough, I know, to shelter me, to shelter my girl from all this pain. I wonder
if I should allow her to go out to a fair. What if something happens to her?
What if one of her friends is an addict? What if a boy, or a man, decides to
hurt her? It is terrifying, but I tell myself that I can’t hide her from this
world, cruel as it may be. I can’t wrap my arms around the universe and hold it
tight. It is unbounded. It expands and slips past our reach. It becomes
something else. Every. Single. Time. But I try, nevertheless, to push back.
That’s what I tell my desperately disheartened students who week after week
discuss the failings of a Western optic and supposed human rights frameworks.
We push back because the evil will encroach, we push back because love is a
powerful force, and even if human kindness may never do more than reach stasis in
the face of human evil, maybe, just maybe, we can hold the evil at bay.
So, I debate how to approach my day. Friday. I arrived. This
week, unlike the weeks before I was neither addressing a plumbing disaster, nor
running an event, though I am preparing my home for another visitor. I was
neither feeling my heart ache for the distance imposed by another person that I
love, and whose needs at this time are simply in opposition to my own, nor the
panic of work piling up (though that is more a function of sleep than of said
work, trivial though it is in the grand scheme, being complete or diminishing).
I will go to a café to work, I think. And I start to plan this, but the wind
and rain are enticing in this desert city, and instead I take the dog,
desperate for action, out for a constitutional. I allay thoughts of
self-loathing, of an imperfect self, pushing back against my own overinflated
ego. I come back, and I think, “I will work now” but then I discover that
though I am trying hard to not waste, to not consume more than I need, there
are vegetables and cheese that came from the farm, homemade, that if ignored
will go to waste.
How to make sense of it all? I wonder, from within the walls
of my temperature controlled space, clean despite its clutter, free of shrapnel,
or land mines, though the ominous plane formation that coasted along in the
morning grey made me and my girl nervous. If I waste, I think, then all those
people that are struggling for fairness, for justice, for peace… I am letting
them down. If I waste, it means that the water and energy used to produce these
things, the nameless, faceless farmworkers who labored under the sun for
miserable wages, but wages, I hope, nonetheless, will have worked for nothing.
If I waste, I am part of the problem, not part of the solution. So, I cook. And
in the cooking, and in the feeding of others, I will make a moment of sense.
The narrative will relent, for a moment, and I will just be, immersed in the
earthy abundance, free.
My mind plays with the possibilities, using mostly things on
the edge of spoilage, and I come up with a new recipe that speaks to abundance
Casserole of decadence:
Tri-color (beets, spinach and wheat pasta)
rotini – boiled and set aside.
Large crimini mushrooms, quartered and wilted in
olive oil and salt over a high flame
Quartered roasted Brussels sprouts
Roasted butter nut squash, skin on, cubed
Eggplant, garlic sauce added to fresh tomatoes on the edge
of expiration. Add chipotle pepper and water let cook down over medium high
Add homemade chevre and salt to taste, allow piquant sauce
to marry flavors.
Crumble more chevre over top. And bake.
Sometimes the only logic is to not think too hard. To let
yourself be. To practice self care. Sometimes there is no meaning, but we still
have to eat, and appreciate the beauty. Sometimes, it is all we can do.