10 January 2012

Circle Round the Sun

Harmonia Macrocosmica
As Planet Earth has once again passed the place in its orbit around the Sun that we have chosen to mark as the beginning of a new year, I am very happy to have arrived at a place in my life where I can devote time to this Connectively Speaking blog once again. As I hop back on this path that I had exited for a while just after the Austral Summer Solstice, here in the unforgiving glare of the Mendoza Sun, I am reminded of the invigorating New Year’s Day thunderstorm that I raced against a year ago in the green, green Valdivian forests of Patagonia. I spoke then of hope beginning anew because, through Eduardo Galeano, I had discovered the amazing Swedish writer, Stig Dagerman and was greatly inspired by his “visionary realism,” his concordance with my own ideas of how fear causes human beings to do strange things like accept unverifiable and inaccurate claims as truth and dispel basic respect for other human beings.

This theme of fear and the manipulation of people’s fears threads its way throughout my thought system, and its importance to my understanding of the human spirit is evidenced in the title to the first blog, “we fear what we don’t understand,” which I began in order to deal with the post partum depression that I felt after having finished the miraculous process of giving birth to my No Stranger book... and indeed, that book begins with the idea of manipulated fear.

Nuclear Mushroom Cloud
over Nagasaki

Now, as the year 2012 begins, fear is a major theme, with the impending and mysterious Aztec Long-Count end-date looming in December, fears of Iranian nuclear aggression being flamed, fear of changes in the Arab world nagging at many, fear of the socio-economic repercussions of the meltdown of the European Union being of great concern, and in the U.S., fear of the potential for grave problems of unknown proportions citizens into what can only be described as a state of chronic angst that turns the focus inward and causes the tragedy of tunnel vision and the grasping at fragments of reality.

But I am a hopeful person, much like Eduardo Galeano, whose poem about being worthy of hopeless hope spoke so strongly to me on that last swing through this sector of our orbit around the Sun, back in the spectacular Lake District of Patagonia. As Eduardo Galeano was hopeful that “we could be disobedient, each time we receive orders that humiliate our conscience or violate our common sense,” hopeful that “we could be able to continue walking the ways of the wind,” hopeful that “we could be stubborn enough to continue believing, contrary to all evidence, that the human condition is worth the pain,” I have been hopeful. And indeed, it was less than two months later when the soldiers in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt refused their orders, refused to shoot on unarmed citizens, and more than forty years of tyrannical rule were brought to an end. The future of Egypt is, of course, uncertain, yet the fear of change was vanquished and que sera, sera.

Sandias con leyenda: Viva la vida
by Frida Kahlo

I am as hopeful as Dr. Cornell West, a prisoner of blues-inflicted hope, the funky, hard-edged, realism-based hope that comes from experiencing pain and difficulty, hope that comes from knowing how high the hurdles are, yet it persists.

I am as hopeful as Frida Kahlo, who never let tragic pain stop her from living by the vivacious motto, Viva La Vida!

I am as hopeful as any person who has ever given of themselves to struggle against an unjust system or to motivate the world through the arts, perhaps against great odds, often with great personal sacrifice, to help create even just a little more dignity in the world.

And I remain as hopeful as I was all the way back in La Paloma, Uruguay, living under a lighthouse by the sea near the intersection of Eros and Adonis, writing about Peace and Love in a place named The Dove. We had our share of tormentas during our lonely winter on the tip of Cabo Santa María. They were windy and wet and cold, coming from Antarctica and joining us with the forces of the vast Atlantic Ocean.

We have our ferocious tormentas mendocinas here on the banks of the Río Atuel, and we experienced one the other day. Here, they are born of the fury of change, bringing sudden bursts of much-needed moisture to a semi-arid environment that depends on the river and well-established system of canals for the life of the fruit orchards, the vineyards, and the olive trees that are the livelihoods of the earthy people here.

Our Fron Porch
We ended up going without electricity for more than 24 sweltering hours after a thrilling storm that dropped pea-sized hail amidst the flashes of lightening and their cracks of thunder and the rain that was driven by unpredictable gusts of wind. As the water poured in through the closed windows on the windward side of the house during the most intense moments, we stood outside on the covered front porch in awe, with all three sets of double doors thrown wide open to allow as much of the mass of cooled air into the house as possible. That was on Friday, Three Kings Day. By late Saturday afternoon, after having patiently allowed the electric company plenty of time to come deal with the outage, a survey of the immediate neighbors revealed that no one had called to report the situation, and it turned out that the electric company was not aware that we were all, by this point, fretting over the beef in our freezers thawing out, more than anything else. Plus, it was sooo hot without any fans to move the air...

And so we begin anew, yet again, with my long-count hope in tow. My tender, tenacious hope is my fragile cactus bloom, my anchor in the storm, my little reminder of a bigger world, my grand motivation for remaining connected with my precious humanity, my hero vanquisher of fear and loathing, forging a world of possibilities that are the seeds of better future, sometime, somewhere, looking forward, past endings and beyond horizons and on across the universe...

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