This happens a lot:
Person 1: Blah blah blah pomplemeuse blah blah electrical outlet blah blah exploding Black Watch plaid.
Person 1: Naturally, blah blah blah homogenization blah blah shopping cart blah blah the heartbreak of psoriasis.
Tata: Not for nothing, but I couldn’t connect these dots with a line painter and a road crew.
As I walk around in the world, trying to understand how important philosophical questions relate to everyday life, how my little actions reverberate through the world, how Taste Great and Less Filling ever coexisted, I learn things by what happens when I meet people with different priorities.
Tata: Thank you for taking it upon yourself to buy paper towels for our department, though that seems a little Snow Crash to me.
Jennifer: Oh, you’re welcome. What’s the matter?
Tata: Can I make a request, please? Can we use recycled paper towels from now on?
Emily: You don’t like the flowered border?
Jennifer: I had a coupon. This was on sale.
Tata: While the border is super-girlie for me, personally, I’d really like to talk about the recycled paper towels. They come in a variety of brands –
Jennifer: They’re in the grocery store?
Emily: What about the flowered border?
Tata: Does anyone really need patterned paper towels?
Jennifer: How do I tell which brands are recycled?
Tata: It’ll say right on the label. They might cost a dollar or two more but I think it’s worth it to put fewer toxins into the environment.
Jennifer: Well, if that’s your priority, good for you.
Breathless and shocked, I walked away from this conversation before I shot my mouth off about selfishness, short-sightedness and an unbelievable disconnect from nature in a person who hikes the Adironidacks every weekend. Plus, I stomped back to my desk thinking, ‘How, in fucking 2006, does anyone not know recycled paper products are in the grocery store, and how can anyone with both oars in the water think she should overlook clearcutting for the sake of fucking flowered paper towels?‘
It was at that moment that I said to huffy Me, “Pet, you only switched to recycled last summer. You’ve made a reasonable request. Let’s let our co-workers find the path themselves and we’ll look for coupons.”
I know. I couldn’t believe it either. When I didn’t even consider punching anybody, I checked the name written in my underwear.
Section 1. The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour, and shall, at stated times, receive for their services, a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.
Last year, I participated in a project at Coalition of the Swilling intended to send packages to a unit of Marines deployed in Iraq. There were rules and deadlines. It was extremely constructive for me to consider the human person in the human situation, to put aside my own feelings and consider the young man I would never meet. The Marine I sent a package to last year is not in Iraq anymore, which one hopes is good news, but the same unit is still there.
Perhaps this post sounds to you, Poor Impulsives, as if I accept this task with resignation and not joy, but that is merely my own failure with word-thingies. These feelings may appear mutually exclusive but that appearance is deceiving. I choose to consider that I am old enough to be the parents of these Marines, that what I want for the two given to me for this year’s project is a future in which they have the strength to choose constructive paths. I will set myself aside and think of them as whole human beings. This is a good stretch for anyone. Since I am exceptionally selfish, this is hard work I welcome. Then I’ll mail them Chapstick.
It’s hot there and lips do not exfoliate, you know. You have to help. Ow.
As you know, I have been against the wars from the beginning. I opposed every shot fired, every bomb dropped, every life lost. You can agree with me or disagree, it doesn’t matter. There is nothing to be said that will sway me even a little from my feeling that every instant of the current wars have been economically, environmentally, socially, politically, diplomatically, and spiritually catastrophic, and we will suffer the fallout for decades. There’s not a lot I can do, personally, to mitigate Iraqi and Afghani civilian suffering besides writing my congresscritters twice a day and three times on Sunday.
It would seem the one thing we can all agree on is that the troops are kids halfway around the world for months on end and in dangerous situations. I understand the position of people who feel those kids enlisted and whatever happens, well, whatever. I can’t be swayed to that position, either. There are many inhumane paths we could walk from here. Or we can choose empathy.
The good news is that Coalition for the Swilling has more Marines, and you can join this project. It’s not difficult and it is a great opportunity to reflect on the state of your own soul, if you believe in souls. If you don’t, you can still benefit from imagining what you’d want, sending it off and knowing you’ve paid it forward. No matter who you are and what you believe, your simple act can do some good in the world.