Guilty conscience

June 5, 2010

I am guilty.


Others may point fingers at BP and even President Obama, but I must take responsibility. I killed this bird. And hundreds of others. I choked off the dolphin, who washed ashore. My oil, destined for my car, coated and smothered the mighty pelican.

I am guilty.


I will let BP take a great deal of the blame.  But I – I must stand up, weeping, and declare that the oil is on my hands, too. I bear the guilt and the blame. I own a car. I drive it. And it sickens me. I am part of the conspiracy which has brought about this disaster. I am a criminal.

I cannot breathe life into the thousands of birds and sea animals that have died. Seeing the images – particularly the photograph and video taken by AP photographer Charlie Riedel of the valiantly struggling bird weighted down with oil, but struggling on to live – make me cry as I have not cried in years.

David Letterman may jokingly refer to the Gulf Coast as the “Dead Sea” – but that joke is no longer funny. It is painful, and true. This is an environmental holocaust; a low-tech equivalent of a nuclear bomb, annihilating all within its path.

I desperately want to shoot my car, to always walk wherever I must go, no matter how many hundreds of miles – but I know the reality is that I will get in my car again tomorrow, and the next day, and the days and weeks after, and I will kill more animals. I will watch more birds and fish and beautiful creatures die. Their blood, my oil, will soon cover me. I will suffocate myself in my tears. But I will sadly remain unchanged.

Months from now, I may claim I was innocent. That I had nothing to do with this. To “wash my hands.” But mere water cannot remove this guilt, this oil, that clings so close. I leave my blackened handprints everywhere, on all that I touch.

I am guilty.


I want to tell that struggling bird that I am sorry. That I did not mean to take his beautiful, precious life. That he has inspired me in his struggle to remain alive,  to witness his Life Force being so strong, even as it was waning. Watching him die grieves my very soul. I cannot give him his life back.

I am guilty.


© writingreading, 2010

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Kudos to Craig!

April 4, 2010

See why talk show host Craig Ferguson of The Late Late Show won a Peabody Award for his interview with Archbishop Desmond Tutu:

Part 1 – thoughts on good, evil, and the resiliency of the human spirit, and some delightful laughter from the Archbishop

Part 2 – about suffering and forgiveness, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa

Part 3 – the power of telling one’s story; the Archbishop’s reflections on the election of Barack Obama, and his attendence at the Inauguration

What Craig learned that night.

Craig reflects further on his interview with Archbishop Tutu.


Creative Every Day – Stories

March 10, 2010

Theme this month at Creative Every Day is “Stories”. I haven’t kept up with every post, and I’m not an active participant – but I love her posts, her themes, and how she is all about bringing more creativity to our lives!

The starting post for March, guest-written by Elizabeth Halt, I found to be thought-provoking and inspiring – about the stories we tell ourselves, and how we can create change.

© 2010 writingreading


In the Doldrums

March 9, 2010

I have been having a long bout of ….not exactly writer’s block, but what I can best term, the Doldrums.

Like the real life nautical companion, my doldrums simply are a time when I am adrift. No wind in my sails. Unable to get anywhere. A complete lack of momentum and forward movement.

I’m not stuck on a sandbar, nor completely immobilized, but I can’t seem to get up the gumption to get anything done, or even started, for that matter.

Though it pains me to say so – and I do believe it is fundamentally not-true – I feel like I am losing my passion for working on my book. These days, unfortunately, I am just simply not interested.

This is all most unfortunate, of course. Not only because I would like to just get it DONE already, but also because I am actually somewhat close (relatively speaking) to getting it finished.

It’s like Columbus getting stuck at Cuba – he can see Florida, he wants to get to Florida – but the winds are calm and his sails are furled – and he just can’t get there.

So, when all else fails, I turn to reading writing books. Nothing makes you feel more like a writer, without having to do anything, than reading about writing – but of course, doing no writing, yourself.

I dipped into a nice little work yesterday called: The Writer’s Portable Therapist: 25 Sessions to a Creativity Cure by Rachel Ballon. I don’t really feel like I need a “creativity cure” as much as just a literal “jump-start.” My batteries are just worn down. (sorry to mix metaphors)

I like this quote that appears there (p. 78): “The creative act – the defeat of habit by originality – overcomes everything” by George Lois.  That is exactly what I need.  My habit lately is to simply not-write. To in fact ignore it. SO – my mission is to “overcome habit by originality” – to go to the computer and open my manuscript and begin. To not fall back on the same habit of watching TV or pretending to clean house as a procrastination, writing-avoidance technique.

Just like the weeks old sailing vessels would spend at sea, nearly immobilized by the doldrums, I too know that my luck will eventually change. “Smooth sailing” will return – I just must simply be patient until it does.

© writingreading 2010


Newspaper Blackout Poetry

February 24, 2010

I just heard about Austin Kleon, who creates “Newspaper Blackout” poetry by circling words in newspapers and blacking out the rest. It’s really neat to see what he comes up with. One of my favorites on his website is about marriage. It’s touching and sweet.

I also enjoyed his post about a workshop he gave at a university – where there was a group effort to create blackout poetry. Sounds very very cool!

He has a book coming out soon – entitled, of course,  Newspaper Blackout and you can learn more about how to create your own Blackout poetry at his website.

Cool stuff!

© 2010 writingreading


Civil War time lapse map

January 31, 2010

A super cool map of the American Civil War. A “time-lapse” rendering of the major battlelines and territory held by both sides throughout the war.

The Civil War in Four Minutes


Meditation on Makeup

January 26, 2010

This morning while waiting for the bus, I was seized with a 30-second panic, wondering if I had remembered to put on makeup this morning.

Now, I’m no beauty queen and I don’t spend hours in front of a mirror, but I know better than to leave the house for work without makeup on. I reassured myself that yes, I did everything I needed to do to prepare myself for work and I needn’t worry.

But this got me to thinking – why is it that we, as women, have taken on and accepted as a part of our consciousness that we are incomplete, faulty, most of all, embarrassed – if we don’t wear our makeup? We can’t bear to look ourselves in the mirror – and we cringe at the thought of others seeing us – as we really are.

This is especially hard for teenage girls, when they are beginning to form this consciousness. Oh sure, part of the makeup is that it is fun; part of it is experimenting to find their own “look” – but I believe that the makeup obsession is part of the reason why young women give up their souls – their identity – their strength and their heart – as they go through adolescence.  (Think I’m exaggerating? Read the classic Reviving Ophelia and others like it.)

This morning, when the wind whipped my hair and my makeup faded as my skin paled against the cold, I recalled an incident many years ago, where I first came to realize how the makeup issue can so powerfully affect a woman’s self-esteem.

I was camping (no makeup needed or expected here) and most of the other campers were some good guy-friends and a few families.  One of the families had a teenage son, about 16 or so. Poor guy, he had horrible acne.

I thought – wow – if he were a girl, he would be devastated – but at least she could cover it up with makeup. As a boy, of course, he did not have that option.

I realized if I were in a similar situation – bad skin, right out there for the world to see – that I’d have to “power through” it – I’d just have come to terms with it and move on.  It would actually give me confidence. Self-determination. Inner strength.  What a contrast to what it is like as a girl.

Even though I never had such a severe problem as his,  I realized for myself – even as a grown woman – a blemish here and there would seem catastrophic. I had to cover it up! I couldn’t let anyone see – that I was less than perfect. That I was not completely in control of my own skin and appearance.  That without makeup I was a failure – less of a woman, less of a professional – a perfectly capable but physically (and therefore, by extension, perhaps in other ways, too) flawed human being. Putting all of my failings – by that one little  blemish – on display for the world to see.

Even in the camping situation where makeup was not expected and would be pointless and a pain (it was summer after all), I felt insecure.  I saw this young man – and took courage from him. If he could do it – so could I.

This one experience helped me see the vast differences in how – just even in this one small area – we continue to teach and encourage our young men to be confident and secure no matter their situation – and how we do such a disservice to our young girls by buying into the charade that “without my makeup I must die” mentality that we all seem to have in our culture.

I don’t have a teenage daughter, so I don’t know how I would try to balance her need to explore and affirm he own identity – sometimes via makeup – versus losing herself and feeling exposed, embarrassed, and ashamed if she didn’t have makeup. Perhaps sports or another activity would give her a chance to spend equal time experimenting without makeup and give her a chance to discover herself – her confidence, her true, natural beauty, and learn who her real friends – and boyfriends – really are.

Thankfully, I’m old enough now that I no longer have the fear and insecurity that I had when I was younger. I wear makeup or don’t wear makeup as I choose – though clearly I still follow the cultural expectation that I shouldn’t leave the house without it. (And I panic if I forget!)

© writingreading, 2010