Friday, April 29, 2011

Ponderings of a Broken Man

That would be the title of my syndicated column if I were syndicated and could stand to speak to editors and have my words be "priced". As it is, I have no column and no readers and nothing but a cheap set of pants and a stomach ache from the Jack in the Box tacos I just crammed down my fuzz face. I dropped some on the floor and the dog sniffed and then walked away leaving the crumbs and "taco filling" untouched. What does that say? I've got the toilet penciled in for a meeting tomorrow around noon to one.

Ok, a few things I want to touch on tonight:
Back pain
Resentful children of the future

"The sound of destruction." is how one person in Alabama described a tornado out of God's own handbook for global destruction. I've heard more wind in the past few months than when Rush Limbaugh gets his piglets on an Al Gore press release. Is the end coming? Yes, it's always coming. Hurricanes are something I've lived through, a couple of them and a few ice storms. They were almost all freak events. I almost lost one car to the Galveston 'Cane of 1992. Looking back on my refusal to listen to the news I think I deserved to lose that car but got lucky since the hurricane hit Louisiana. A direct hit would've killed me for sure.

I was bicycling across the country in 1993 and it rained for 32 straight days. From Vermont to Minneapolis. Then it rained a bit more until I got to South Dakota. Then it started to hail. I had lost the ability to stand upright somewhere around Michigan. Anyway, I was crossing the Thunder Basin grassland in Wyoming as pictured here on a nice day.*

Sometime on the second or third day in the never ending grasslands a purple cloud like this one started to approach me and there was nowhere to go.

I mean nowhere to hide.
I pedaled and pedaled hoping to run into a farm house or old garage or Indian reservation but there was nothing...except...what's that in the distance? A grain silo! SAVED!

The storm was approaching with thunder and lightning and my tent would be torn to shreds so I bushwacked across the prairie dog playground and climbed over a barbed wire fence and pulled my bike under it and then went to this rusty old abandoned grain silo. Here's a pic of a silo like the one I foolishly took refuge in.

It would be shelter. I threw my bike in just moments before a wind like God's Angry Howl came from the west and rattled the joints of my pre-arthritic spine. The temperature went from 60 degrees to like 30 degrees in five minutes and I huddled sweaty in my sleeping bag chattering as mice and prairie dogs scurried for shelter. I was nearing hypothermia as my teeth chattered in my Moses beard and I decided in desperation to BUILD A FIRE IN THE SILO. I gathered my newspaper and some corn cobs and sticks that had been blown from Utah and had a fire glowing in seconds. I was warm. Ahhh.....ahhhh.....ahhhhhhssssssshhhhhiiiiittttttttt!

A powerful gust of wind with "the sound of destruction" blew the hinges off the grain silo and, yes, caught the raging bonfire I had just built and SPUN IT IN A TORNADO FROM HELL AROUND ME! I was trapped in a grain silo that was filled with flying fire as an apocalyptic storm raged outside.

I would rank that moment in the Wyoming grain silo as the closest to grave injury I have ever been. It's the reason why I watch some movies and am not very impressed by the danger the characters are put in.

I can still see my reasoning behind all my decisions...but it's safe to say the series of events that led to that moment as I watched the stable fire become airborne and then scald my eyes with glowing embers was very unique. You would probably have to wait at that silo for years if you wanted an identical storm to recreate that moment and it happened to me AS I WAS BICYCLING PAST IT AFTER 4 MONTHS OF PEDALING. If God was watching I'll bet He said, "I didn't see that coming."

I remember seeing the storm in the distance dominating the horizon and really stopping to study my options because it was obviously a storm that destroys things. Tornadoes from Tuscaloosa to Washington D.C.
It reminds me of the Dust Bowl when those who denied it was really serious got together in D.C. AND A DUST CLOUD FROM OKLAHOMA COVERED THE ENTIRE CITY. They stopped denying it. I wonder if these Tornadoes were a wake up call to anyone in D.C. The atmosphere is 4% more humid than normal right now...and 100% more oil saturated.

This leads me to another topic. Resentment. I am resentful. Right? No secret. No news flash. Now isn't the time to itemize my resentments but I will say they aren't anything special. I don't have abnormal resentments, like resenting John Macnamara for LEAVING CALVIN SCHIRALDI IN THE GAME AFTER HE HAD JUST GOTTEN SLAUGHTERED IN THE 9TH INNING. Nope. I...Wait, I am resentful of that. fuck.

My point is that I've been reading a lot of these climate change sites and the rallying cry is usually, "We are leaving a horrible world for our kids. We should be ashamed."
And I've used that argument more than once when I can't seem to find another emotional hangnail to chew on. But when I read other people using that argument I see how flimsy it is. And under further inspection I'm pretty sure it is totally untrue. Yes, throwing away scrap metal or leaving the lights on IS A TOTALLY WASTEFUL ACT AND IS GROTESQUE AND LEADS TO FEWER RESOURCES IN THE FUTURE. Of course. It's undeniable. But to suggest a kid born in ten years will grow up and in 2042 say, "Those motherfuckers back in 2012! They were the worst! SO WASTEFUL! I can't believe they left me this mess. AND THEY KILLED ALL THE ARCTIC WOLVES, THOSE ASSHOLES."

No. That's never going to be said because that kind of resentment isn't real. Not only is an emotionally shaming argument ineffective and spurious, but it's not even true. Future children will simply SOLVE THE PROBLEMS OF THEIR DAY. Yes, if you want to be picky you will be able to point to choices Americans made to develop destructive industries, but those developments will be at the disposal of the children who have no oil or clean rivers. They won't look at the rivers and the climate and sit around speaking ill of us because they will have never known anything different. I'm the only person I know who has bemoaned the loss of the American Bison. And I don't really care about them as much as I care about the experiment in talking about the American Bison at city council meetings. How was I going to write about the mayor's reaction to a plan to reintroduce Bison into the state parks near Santa Cruz UNLESS I PROPOSED A PLAN TO REINTRODUCE BISON? I was doing research.
Now, I'm one out of a trillion who would do something like that. When the polar bear and Arctic wolf, two animals hardly any human has actually seen alive, are finally extinct, it will change nothing to the people of the future because they will not have been concerned with the polar bear or arctic wolf's survival.

"Weren't they already extinct," will probably be the response as someone sips a grande mochachino half-caf in the roasting inferno known as Tropical Toronto.

Furthermore, we are biological events, not philosophical or divine ones which means that life wants to live...not resent the long dead. Like the polar bear and wolf, our eventual extinction will be met with the same indifference by some other life form.

"What? No more humans?" the thing will say. "What about that one in the vacuum chamber? Ahhh, that sucks. Hey, you eating the rest of that?"

As an activist, like Thomas Paine, I hunt for the right combination of words that will A) inspire me to resist the urge to HANG MYSELF and B) entertain others and C) make our world slightly less biological and a little more philosophical. So, that's where a pitiful argument like "Our kids will be so disappointed in us," comes from. It's flawed and untrue. I take my recycling of a few Stag Beer cans and soda pop PAST A DUMPSTER FULL OF RECYCLABLES to a recycling station not because I want to be praised by some dickwad in 40 years but because waste irks me personally. It is contemptuous to the earth and to the Brazilians whose rain forest was cut down to make room for the Pepsi Bottling Plant.

I was going to discuss my latest scoliosis-related back pain but I think you get the picture. Think about that. I deliberately engaged in activities that directly caused me pain then and still cause me immense pain and I don't resent my past self. If I can't resent my own terrible decision then there is no way a kid in 40 years will resent the collectively selfish decisions we're making when we pollute every North American River to get minerals that allow us to text message our pizza delivery guy. Really, it's egotistical to think we'll be considered at all. I read a forum comment the other day that was like, "DELL KNOWS ABOUT THIS FAULTY POWER CORD PROBLEM AND REFUSES TO DO ANYTHING. I'M NEVER BUYING DELL AGAIN!" No humility. We're entitled to these high resource items.
There's a good chance the future kids will look at the cause of all their environmental problems and say, "THIS IPAD SUCKS! IT'S SO SLOW!" and that's as much acknowledgment that we will get. We, the kid's grandfather or grandmother, will be identified through the very technology that caused a 1200 mile swath of tornadoes. Maybe that's my point: You get what you ask for. We want technology and that's what we will become. Your jokes, freckles, frowns and farts will be assimilated into Apple's paradigm until we exist only in digital form. Humanity 1.0. The way I honor my grandparents with anecdotes and trinkets (because they left behind almost no digital trace) will be replaced with virtual shrines. You are creating the memory of yourself right now. Creepy.

*There are no photos of my bike trip, only a moldy journal written in illegible chicken scratch. I borrowed the photos from elsewhere.


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