Here is the problem. It is Monday morning and a sunny sixty-nine degrees. A fresh westerly breeze is sweeping my plant-and-flower-surround porch where I am writing. Dog Rabia, is asleep within the bright circle of sunlight streaming in from over my shoulder. A happy and excited clutch of birds hops beneath the feeders and feels like the visitation of special friends.
Now I know there are horrendous events going on in the world, with anguish from them circulating in the very air. In fact, in only a couple hours I will leave my idyllic spot and ride my bicycle half a mile down the lakefront to join a demonstration. Sponsored by Seneca Lake Guardian, I will be advocating for the Department of Environmental Conservation and Governor Hochul to shut down Greenidge Generation and their Bitcoin mining operation.
I am not unaware. I know the corruption of justice the Supreme Court has sowed, and of the sorrows and death with which Putin is blackening the earth. I know about gun violence and the death industry that gun manufacturers have built by stoking racist and xenophobic anxieties. I have read about China’s frightening surveillance state that sounds like a Netflix dystopian drama. Closer to home, I read this newspaper to keep track of the City Counsel, School Board, and Police Department trials and fiascos. As I said, the air is heavy with these and others worries and traumas entering the pores of our consciousness even when we attempt to close them out.
My problem is, sitting here with the breeze and sun stroking my face and a house wren chirping at me from the top of a decorative trellis ten feet away, I don’t care. It feels wrong, but I don’t care.
I wonder if you ever feel this way? Do you ever find yourself within the envelope of a wonderful moment, bathed in what feels like a luxurious bath of beauty or of supremely pleasant company, and suddenly the moment is pierced by a random stream of consciousness about all that is not right with the world? I bet I am not the only one to have experienced such a visitation and the complicated web of feelings associated with it.
But right now, on my porch, with you in mind, I am not biting. This Finger Lakes day is too exquisite to ruin with guilt, anxiety, or real-world anguish. And by the way, isn’t this beauty and peacefulness also real-world?
One of the things that gets lost or at least clouded by the avalanche of twenty-four-seven news and the incessant streaming of online images and banter, is that joy is real too. Beauty is in fact, still available to us. The peace of God that surpasses all understanding continues to visit once in awhile. The perfection of sunshine and seventy-two degrees is a real thing now and again. The ordinary love between friends, and the extraordinary love that is woven and rooted in decades between married folks, are actual — incarnate, real, concrete, and tangible. Even in a world that is shaken and trembling with struggles and hazards, these other things can be held and we can be held within them.
There goes the dog. She got up from her spot, circled for thirty seconds, and plopped down again in the sun. This moment goes on.