It is a day of rest, reflection, absorption. I sit in a comfy chair in the living room with my feet upon the window sill, looking out. Will has completed the floor of the new deck, which is made of ipe, a beautiful sustainable wood that means the deck will outlast us by many, many years.
In the moment, there is no railing, so my feet and my eyes extend out into varying layers of green. I wish the deck could stand like this without a railing and I am aware it is probably not legal and certainly not safe, but in this moment, it is as though I live in a tree house, or perhaps it is more like living in a tree where the openings surround.
I continue to feel Mitchell close to me and I think death may be like this. The railings are taken away.
Einstein said "The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once."
We live here with a need for railings to organize our minds, to keep us safe, and when someone we love dies, they lift us for a moment and dip us in a wider sea, with deeper blues and greens.
"All rivers, small or large, agree in one character, they like to lean a little one side: they cannot bear to have their channels deepest in the middle, but will always, if they can, have one bank to sun themselves upon, and another to get cool under; one shingly shore to play over, where they may be shallow and foolish, and childlike, and another deeper shore, under which they can pause and purify themselves, and get the strength of their waves fully together for the occasion. Rivers in this way are just like wise men, who keep one side of their life for play, and another for work."
I read these words and consider how each of us steers the deep, wide current within. My sense is that in life, yes, we go back and forth, but we are steered and stay on course by a rudder more deeply aligned than we know, and maybe we sometimes we allow ourselves to feel that flow.
In her book on rivers, Akiko Busch writes:
"In Theory of Colours, his study of wavelength theory of light and color published in 1910, the German philosopher and writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said of the color blue, "But as we readily follow an agreeable object that flies from us, so we love to contemplate blue, not because it advances to us, but because it draws us after it."
I wonder if that is why we feel "blue" when someone dies, even though we know that for them it is a birth and release. I wonder if we are being drawn after them, and then, we can only go so far, and they continue on into what we perceive as dark and we drop back into the air we breathe and need, for now.
Okay, like that, I sent my email to Nancy Pelosi. It's easy. Now, I will choose some beautiful stationery and hand-write my letter to her.
I am keeping it brief and simple.
Here is what I said in the email and will now write out in longhand. Actually I am simplifying it as I go.
Dear Ms. Pelosi,
We cannot allow Dick Cheney to do in Iran what he has done in Iraq.
Stop him by beginning impeachment proceedings.
Thank you for balancing your important political position with awareness and care for all sides, and act on this now.
It is time to stop this administration before they destroy even more how the United States is perceived around the world.
Sit down and write yours now!! Do you have something more important to do that preventing more death, pain, and destruction?
Then, on Thanksgiving Day, you can give thanks that you took this small step for peace, this leap, for the universe.
I want to be clear that though I admire and respect Cindy Sheehan for what she has done, and I grieve with her for the loss of her son, I will not support her in a campaign against Nancy Pelosi. I do believe that political experience counts, and that Nancy Pelosi is handling the challenges of a very difficult job. I do not endorse Cindy Sheehan at this time for election, but I do support making sure we don't begin another war, when we can't even figure out what to do with the one we are in.
My book group wanted something "light" this month so we chose Bill Bryson's book, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, a memoir about his growing up in Des Moines, Iowa.
We figured what could be lighter than Bill Bryson growing up in Des Moines. He was born in 1951, so two years after I was, and much that is in this book I remember and can relate to, such as Younkers Department store, and then, there are the parts I often prefer to forget, and it is important to stay alert and aware and not forget some of the craziness of this country's past.
From Bill Bryson:
He is speaking of the McCarthy Era.
"Such was the hysteria that it wasn't actually necessary to have done anything wrong to get in trouble. In 1950, three former FBI agents published a book called Red Channels: The Report of Communist Influence in Radio and Television, accusing 151 celebrities - among them Leonard Bernstein, Lee J. Cobb, Burgess Meredith, Orson Welles, Edward G. Robinson and the stripper Gypsy Rose Lee - of various seditious acts. Among the shocking misdeeds of which the performers stood accused were speaking out against religious intolerance, opposing fascism, and supporting world peace and the United Nations. None had any connection with the Communist Party or had ever shown any Communist sympathies. Even so, many of them could not find work for years afterward unless (like Edward G. Robinson) they agreed to appear before HUAC as a friendly witness and name names.
Doing anything at all to help Communists became essentially illegal. In 1951, Dr. Ernest Chain, a naturalized Briton who had been awarded a Nobel Peace Price six years earlier for trying to develop penicillin, was barred from entering the United States because he had recently traveled to Czechoslovakia, under the auspices of the World Health Organization, to help start a penicillin plant there. Humanitarian aid was only permissible, it seems, so long as those being saved believed in free markets. Americans likewise found themselves barred from travel. Linus Pauling, who would eventually receive two Nobel Prizes, was stopped at Idlewild Airport in New York while boarding a plane to Britain, where he was to be honored by the Royal Society, and had his passport confiscated on the grounds that he had once or twice publicly expressed a liberal thought.
It was even harder for those who were not American by birth. After learning that a Finnish-born citizen named William Heikkiin had in his youth briefly belonged to the Communist Party, Immigration Service employees tracked him down in San Francisco, arrested him on his way home from work, and bundled him into an airplane bound for Europe, with nothing but a dollar in change and the clothes he was wearing. Not until his place touched down the following day did officials inform his frantic wife that her husband had been deported. They refused to tell her where he had been sent."
Bill Bryson continues:
"Thanks to our overwhelming preoccupation with Communism at home and abroad America became the first nation in modern history to build a war economy in peacetime. Defense spending in the fifties ranged between $40 billion and $53 billion a year - or more than total government spending on everything at the dawn of the decade. Altogether the United States would lay out $350 billion on defense during the eight years of the Eisenhower presidency. More than this, 90 percent of our foreign aid was for military expenditures. We didn't just want to arm ourselves; we wanted to make sure everyone else was armed too."
And, of course, there is Guatamala. In 1950, they elected a reformist government, "the most democratic Guatemala ever had," according to historian Howard Zinn. Of course, democracy there was not good for United Fruit, and as the democratically elected Jacobo Arbenz began needed land reform, United Fruit complained and the United States government underwrote a coup. Arbenz had to flee his homeland in 1943 and "a new, more compliant leader named Carlos Castillo Armas was installed." "To help him on his way, the CIA gave him a list of seventy thousand "questionable individuals" - teachers, doctors, government employees, union organizers, priests - who had supported the reforms in the belief that democracy in Guatemala was a good thing. Thousands of them were never seen again."
Sobering, isn't it. Perhaps we place a hand over our heart when we salute and pledge allegiance to the flag because we are ashamed.
So much for our chosen book group book. This is anything but light, and is certainly an odd trip down memory lane.
World Hello Day is November 21st, the day before Thanksgiving this year. Check it out at: www.worldhelloday.org.
Greet at least ten people that day "to demonstrate the importance of personal communication for preserving peace."
You don't have to wait until Wednesday. You can do it tomorrow and tomorrow and so on.
Say Hello, Good Day, Namaste, Peace!