Bobcat tracks on the driveway, circling the chicken area. Bracing, having lost four chickens to said bobcat. And without our clumsy, yet charming rooster Schtude as muse, how am I to write my children’s book? “Uncle Schtude” was to represent hope in change. Must I now write a pretend story, a story told to children that is a lie, and if the lie is exposed than what’s left but betrayal, disappointment, a less safe world? And as I work on my play, Triage: An American Experiment in Existential Arbitration, how find balance, truth, when on such a precipice? How face the deep darkness and not repulse people?
Carl and I canvassed on Sunday in Jaffrey. It seemed like a good idea when we volunteered but we neglected to account for the fact that, on Saturday, we drove up to Kearsarge for the NOFA-NH conference (Northeast Organic Farming Association) and then to Keene to the Sustainable Seed Celebration. And did you notice that the sun was out? But we were driving our electric vehicle, not charging it. And so Sunday morning we were on the very low side of charge and living off-grid. But we sallied forth to the campaign office and got our marching orders, knowing that those orders would be literal marching, for longer than it should have taken, because we couldn’t be driving.
The day started out sunny but turned cloudy, big snow flakes flurrying, and on the chilly side. We walked about 4.3 miles according to my health app on my phone (5.8 according to Carl’s though we were side-by-side the whole time; amazing how he runs circles around me.) Twenty-five doors. The first conversation, early on, was an older Sir who wouldn’t say who he was supporting. He’s never told people who he votes for. It’s not his way. We thanked him and walked on.
A beautiful, white English Setter stood on a rock out of his/her home. S/he couldn’t be bothered to look at us, so intent on the road, awaiting her/his owner/s. It was cold out. I worry still that the dog’s owners didn’t realize they’d left the dog outside. Faithful dog who exuded love and hope as he stared ahead at the long, empty road.
More walking. Knock, knock. Walk. We moved the car to our brother-in-law’s store in Jaffrey so as to plug in. Cold runs a battery down fast. Just sitting in the cold, our EV loses its charge. We plugged into a 110v plug. Thereby we maintained, didn’t lose, our charge. And more walking. Snow falling. Usually that’s pretty but Sunday, I had to wonder. Everything felt bleak. No one home. I was tremendously glad I was with Carl. Knock, knock. Walk. Knock, knock.
I opened the door. Darkness but for the television. Stale cigarette smoke.
“Sorry to bother you. I’m Tory and I’m canvassing for . . . etc.”
Thinking back, I wonder if the fellow was lonely and depressed. Maybe we should have stayed to chat. But the impression was that we were interrupting, and so we left our leaflet and walked on.
Knock, knock. Walk. And a note on the door.
“DO NOT KNOCK. DO NOT COME IN. DO NOT LEAVE *@#! POLITICAL TRASH. etc.”
It felt so unfriendly!
Could I blame them?
Walk. Knock (feebly) knock.
How was it that the three young women who stayed with us this weekend found the canvassing process invigorating? By the end of our round, Carl and I were depressed.
Which leads this Tory with a y to obsess yet more on the politics of the day because if I, with all I have, am depressed and disillusioned, how expect those who have been cut out of the process and held down to participate? No small wonder we are in our current state.
A.C.T.. Attitude Change Time.
Can we . . . do we as individuals make a difference? Each of us? Looking at my life and how I am, does it matter what I do? What I write? Here I am on another Tuesday—a Primary Day Tuesday, no less—and contemplating a post, that may or not be read by a handful of people, and I tell myself I “should” avoid politics here because it might be off-putting to those who disagree with mine.
I have asked these questions before, if in different ways. And my response is still this: everything these days is political. How we use water. How we eat. How we communicate and interact.
Politic: shrewd or prudent in practical matters; tactical; diplomatic.
Politics: the science or art of political affairs.
Political: of, pertaining to , or concerns with politics. . . .. Exercising or seeking power in the governmental or public affairs of a state, municipality etc..1
Is not the question: how dare I avoid politics here?
In my own defense, one of my characters in Triage is a politician. One is a capitalist. One is an Elector (of The Church of the Only True Believers, Believe, Don’t Burn). So contemplating politics is a kind of research. Ditto money in politics. Money in our society. Power. Belief in something bigger than just the individual. Or is it an “I think, therefore I am” moment and each individual comes first. Competition or cooperation?
I am sometimes afraid of our species. At others, as when with the young people this weekend, I am so very hopeful and grateful to see the beginning of the change that is coming. It is here. And, having been on the other end of things, I know clinging and trying to stop it, go back, causes wrinkles, neck problems and tears. It’s a scary time. I live in a bubble. But I am also planning to write a children’s story in which two of the main characters—Big Red and Uncle Schtude—are dead. But in the book, like Santa Claus, they will live on. As will the broody hen Panda. The cat Nora . . . and then there is the phoenix rising up.
Civilizations rise and fall. Humans have these things called brains and hearts. And isn’t it time to change the path so many civilizations have gone down? Now.
Death is hard. It’s so darn final. I have spent my lifetime resenting the necessary loss and pain but I’m going for hope in the future. Because that is what farming is—not that I farm. But we do try to grow food and soil. (Soil does grow.) And going to Kearsarge and the Sustainable Seed Celebration is about putting something so tiny as a seed into the ground–just like a tree does—and then waiting for it to grow. And it does grow. Hope. It’s infectious. Death is the step before life.
Hope? Have I learned nothing since the Obama years?
I have learned this: these are no longer times for euphoric recall and slow evolution. We don’t have time because life wasn’t fabulous for a lot of people four years ago. The world is in turmoil and evil is rising. And so is great good. Which will we each choose? What will we work for. And will we work in isolation or together?
Here’s an article by David Leonhardt.2 We Democrats and Progressives are so worried. But there are way more of us if we would just get over the fear. Listen to our heart’s yearning for a better world. And it is a world, not a political party, not a country. We are all connected. (See earlier posts on energy.)
Impossible dreams? Maybe. And we are stardust.
“We are such stuff/As dreams are made on/and our little life/Is rounded with a sleep.”
The sun sets with a promise to come back tomorrow.
1 Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary. 2nd edition.