I’ve been feeling the loneliness that comes with the realization that not only do others not see the world the same way as I, but that nobody sees it the same way at all. Not a one. Not even the people who vote the same. Not even the people who like the same movies, books, and dances. Not the dearest of friends.
This entire week, my husband and I have been awaiting word on our mortgage loan documents, hoping our lender draws them up soon so we can close on a new house. On Monday, nobody was answering our calls and we grew anxious. For the past three days we’ve heard promise after promise followed by delay after delay. For some reason, it all makes me think of Syria’s refugees, whose situation is of course a million times direr than ours. I can’t help but seek metaphors, because that’s what my mind does when I try to make sense of things that don’t make sense. So I imagine Syrians desperate for a new home, anxious they made a mistake by leaving the old one, and at the moment they most want help, unable to get it.
Why do so many people transform into stupid, selfish, dangerous meanies when they step into their cars? In the past two days, I’ve listened to people lay heavily on the horn because: 1) I was waiting at a stop sign so a car that was almost upon our intersection and had no stop sign could pass, 2) I was waiting before making a left turn on a green light because two pedestrians were walking directly in my path in the crosswalk and a motorcycle was coming our way, and 3) I was waiting to turn right because a man was in the crosswalk.
I was about to drink my disgusting laxative tonight, in preparation for my first colonoscopy tomorrow, when I received an email telling me that a healthy friend was rushed to the hospital Friday for a crisis that landed her in Intensive Care. It sure put a different spin on my day.
Preparing for a colonoscopy already had me contemplating mortality, but up to that point I’d been mostly laughing about it. I was almost excited about the excuse to go out to a big lunch with my husband tomorrow right after the doctor gives me the anal probe I never asked for. But now all I can think about is whether my friend will be okay after receiving the sort of blow that can befall any of us at any time—no matter how healthy we are.
A friend shared this video the other day, which I found both astonishingly beautiful and terrifying. It’s the largest glacier calving event ever filmed, in which a mass of ice the size of Manhattan breaks away from Greenland to collapse into the ocean.
Perhaps the scariest thing was that this happened back in 2008, and we humans haven’t changed our behavior much since. Nor is it clear that even if we did, we could turn back the tide of damage we’ve already done. I say “we,” because so long as I drive a car, use electricity, and throw out garbage, I continue to contribute to climate change. Sure, if I weren’t living from paycheck to paycheck, I could switch to solar energy. But even as a recycler who limits her driving, rides a bike as often as she can, and limits buying new things—which require energy to make—I’m not going to get to a zero carbon footprint. Not if I want to remain a functioning member of society, versus going off the grid and becoming the equivalent of a cave woman. Better people have tried. And I’m just one person.