Somebody send me some good news, would you? I'm tired of so much that's bad or wrong or so sad you have to cry. I'm tired of carrying around this burden of knowing the whys and hows of what is wrong and why - what it means to walk into Save-a-Lot, our local super-discount grocer, and see Latina women carefully price-checking every item to stretch each dollar and the vacant-eyed stare of an older man with a body completely beaten down from hard labor or maybe drugs or disease or just plain being tired. To see the packets of frozen fish and know that they came from collapsing, overburdened fisheries - or from ecologically devastating fish farms that destroy all the natural sea life around them. To see the towering stacks of chips and sodas and the deafening silence, atop the tinny music, of a place full of people who are having a damned hard time.
To come home to news that, yes, the state of Washington is cutting its budget yet again and the grant program that is funding the lion's share of my salary will be cut at the end of June - just as the growing season starts.
I can hardly bear to walk into the assisted living facility where my Amma lives. My mom does it every day, goes and talks to her and rubs her legs and makes sure everything is OK, and Amma barely notices. She is beyond everything except the next round of medication and I can't handle it. Not her, not the indomitable woman who was digging up and transplanting spiny pineapples at 90 and skillfully picking out the best-quality fabric at Wal-Mart from the piles and piles of bolts at 85. Who until this spring was still sewing, still ten times the seamstress I'll ever be, who would stand in front of the sliding glass doors to the back yard and roar out in tongues her love for her God.
The papaya farmer I met who wouldn't take a cent for the gorgeous fruit he gave me but relayed a series of struggles and failures to succeed not through any fault of his own but bad circumstance - hurricanes, disease, market upheavals.
Every time I come home things look a little worse around town. The long slow creep of decay and the dissolution of that most important thing - community. People are disengaged. People don't care. Or maybe they do, but they feel helpless. All those For Sale signs, all those homes falling apart, decrepit, with filthy dogs short-chained in a ring of dirt, a sign of worse things inside.
Grotesquely huge faux-Mediterranean mansions sprouted all over Sarasota and down 75, having eaten up all that farmland and open space, they sit empty, For Sale. Walking around at one of the ritzier malls in the area and seeing the price tags and nauseating opulence at a store like Saks, and thinking, what the hell? Buying all these Christmas presents for all these people and having very little ability to gauge my complicity and what to do about it.
Don't even get me started on the Real news, everything I've been reading in the newspapers and online.
To want to keep my eyes open for all of this and to want desperately to look away, to stop knowing. How do you know it and see it and live with compassion and love and not let all that need everywhere dismantle you bit by bit from the inside out?
All these hours in the day and yet so much yet undone. Projects upon projects stacked in my room and my mind, all these things I want to do for me and for my family and my friends and my job and there will never ever be the time to do it all but I keep trying and getting frustrated. It doesn't really help to know, logically, rationally, whatever, that you can't Do It All or Fix It All unless you can live that truth and find that tricky sweet spot where you do your best and you do all you can but you don't try and do it all and you don't beat yourself up over all these things you see every day that wash across your body like strong waves and threaten to sweep you right out to sea.
(ps I guess I'm not the only one)