May 19, 2022

There’s One Way to Navigate this Bitter Reality & Come out Alive.


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**This article was written on April 4, 2022.


The day is only beginning, but it already looks to be another dry and sunny one.

The season is young yet already ushering in hints of new life. Green shoots poke through tawny, dead grass with exuberance. All over the hillside in this mountain valley 3,000 feet above Boulder, land devoured by interminable rodent appetites is pregnant with hope for renewal.

The first robin appeared last Monday, our first avian debutante searching for the perfect mate. She already looked pregnant with eggs, eager to nest in the woodlands nearby.

Many of the birds are starting to return. A small flock of Pine Siskins finds sustenance and delight from our front porch feeders. A lone Northern Red Flicker, puffed up and clinging to the bark of the Ponderosa Pine, perches quietly, awaiting his turn at the suet. Black-capped Chickadees, melodiously summoning mates in the willows, alight with bursts of joy.

While out on our morning walk, I answer. Within a note or two, they respond.

Soon after, a cross-species song is carried on the mild springtime breeze.

As we ease into spring with all its promise of renewal, I feel a bit cheated out of the full bounty that winter promised. Snowfalls dumping on the valley, as if the angels turned over a wheelbarrow of precipitation, were rare and light.

The most pernicious fire occurred on the last day of the last month of last year, owing to drought and punishing hurricanic winds. Four months later, homeowners, at the mercy of reluctant and disreputable insurance companies, are still arguing, pleading, and questioning why there’s reluctance in helping replenish the sofa they lost or resupply the blankets on their beds that are no longer in their homes (and have turned into ashes).

The destruction of the Marshall Fire is but a distant memory, except for those directly affected, those sitting in living rooms not theirs and drinking coffee from mugs donated by a community that’s deeply concerned.

Still, all in all, their stories and their losses lie deep in our hearts as a layer in the earth, thick with trauma and chaos, sprinkled with pebbles of goodness and acts of heroism. Each layer appears as a record of living, a geological deposit lying in wait for archaeologists to find 300 years from now—or maybe five—if the earth hasn’t burned up or flooded out by then.

People have moved on to the invasion of Ukraine, the most pressing and impactful in our new reality.

As minds drown in helplessness and overwhelm and hearts wade through immeasurable grief, dilemmas arise as readily as the missiles are dropped by nefarious wills of Russian soldiers. No ordinary citizen may give sufficient answers nor render decently suited aid, and yet no morally conscious, caring, or enlightened person can turn away.

Not when there are people sobbing, or grandmothers left behind by fleeing families are dying terrified and alone in beds, blown up by missiles of death. Not when there are innocent and benevolent young women and men being stopped by Russian bullets in the act of bringing food to hungry, homeless dogs. Not when there are expectant mothers killed in maternity hospitals as they lie in wait to bring new life into this world. Not when there are zookeepers killed in the act of bringing bananas to the Orangutans in an Ecopark, or fathers are shot along with the family dogs while trying to bring all they love to places where the bullets weren’t flying and missiles weren’t being dropped.

No conscious mind nor awakened heart can turn away from the new reality of war crimes being committed. While I watch bluebirds flutter about stalks of grass snatching insects, acts are being carried out by pernicious wills of Russian soldiers at the behest of a barbarian dictator. No being can rest completely in peace or stillness or the artifice of contentment, knowing this is happening, the control of which is so far beyond anyone’s desperate grasp.

After all of this, while the earth was lightened of the burden of a million souls. All of this, while the cries of the those impacted by the pandemic have not yet died down on those drought-stricken, hurricanic winds.

On this early springtime morning, I realize that all of these happenings are a lot to take in. Anyone would be well-advised to pace and breathe deeply, as we are in this for the long haul. The challenges of living in our new reality are more formidable than my own mind can recall, the threats more pervasive, the stakes higher than the Hoover Dam.

And yet, the cementing of humanity pulling together, the bonding of reaffirmation in any one selfless act, or the cries of voices, collected in protest for a better outcome, inform every tender heart that no matter the location or disparity in life, we are all in this together.

We are all interconnected, one impactful, beautifully mosaic moment at a time.


bitter reality

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