A PERFECT MORNING

I sat, reading Basho, as the sunlight danced across the ever flowing stream. The morning that morning seemed to me the most perfect morning to ever exist. The chirps of the crickets were growing dim as they made their way to bed, while the butterflies stretched their wings for their morning flight. My eyes followed one of them, as it listed up and down, back and forth, around the dip in the stream. The stream crashed down there, creating a soft mist, like it were imagining itself as the waterfall. The breeze carried a hint of sweet moisture, as though Zephyrus himself had kissed the day.

I found my mind drifting about to the world around me. The rocks, the trees, the grass—each more alive and beautiful than the last—seemed to have their own tale built into the fabric of their being. The rocks, with cracked lines, shunted edges, and overturned hides, wove a simple, solemn tale about the world. They had watched, waiting and listening, for something the happen. They slept with an eye open, but even in their waking hours they never seemed to be alert. It was as if they had been caught in a state of constant lethargy, but they were kind to me nonetheless.

The trees told a greater tale, full of age and mystery. Unlike the rocks, the trees had been alert and unrested. Their aging minds grew wild with thoughts of their sapling days, where they could still branch their roots out and feel themselves move. Now, they stood as the protectors of the stream and it’s creatures, sheltering it from the outside world. But trees are often presumptuous. They have lived for so long, they do not see the world for as it is, but as it has always been. They foolishly ignore the hearts of men, and the men before me could do little but crawl up the branches for shelter from various beasts. But now—now they come with axe and fire and steel, hungering for great conquests.

The grass told me about this. The grass has felt them tread long and far. Their soft feet, which had once been like a gentle touch, now hammered against them like nails with their steel-toed boots. Men ran where they once walked, and they tore up the grass to make way for their stone houses. Grass had its children shrivel up and die as men stole their drink, and choked to death by the machines of their wars. He told me of his cousin, the moss, who was fished from the waters and thrown to dry out on the banks. Grass had seen weary times, but had endured in places, both thick and thin.

In the distance, the mountain called out to me. She had seen the days, come and gone, and heard the warnings signs. Yet these days, nobody listened to the mountains. Her voice had grown slow, and as time moved faster, people no longer could pause to appreciate the wisdom she had to offer. Even I, the antithesis of my peers, felt the itch of hurriedness shoot through my veins as I listened.

But I found her words important, nonetheless. She had told me to remind men of the slower days—where they woke as they chose and slept as they needed. Where the food they ate was held sacred, and the animals they slaughtered had names and lives. She asked me to remember the stream, as I had remembered my family, and to keep it from illness and abuse. I cannot say that I, myself, can achieve my task alone. Yet on such a perfect day, I felt the urge to try. So I set out, not knowing what terrors lay ahead, to help my fellows stop their journey for a moment, and appreciate the flowers.

——

 

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COVFEFE AND CLIMATE CHANGE

There is never a week that goes by when something entertaining isn’t going on. The Climate Change denial is real. The covfefe is real. The bragging about things that really don’t matter enough to be bragged about is real. But enough about Donald Trump. I can see the logic behind the argument against the Paris Agreement, but there is some fault in it. Namely, that if we don’t have a livable globe, the fact that someone is “for the people of Pittsburgh” is irrelevant. Because there will be no people left. Although, being for the people of Pittsburgh would indicate being for the people at all, which isn’t even clear to me. Though presenting a healthcare program that knocks some twenty million people off healthcare doesn’t seem to support a “for the people” position in the slightest.

Whatever. There are too many things to talk about today and I don’t want to get sidetracked through this whole post. Climate change. It is important because it is real. For anyone saying it isn’t real, take a moment and think to yourself: is it possible? If you answered yes, please read over the science, as I think you will find that your assertion is incorrect when presented with evidence. If you answered no, I’ll be responding personally.

So why not? Why can’t people cause climate change? Is it that the Earth is some sort of infinite object? For those of you reading along, this is one of the biggest reasons people don’t get climate change. They believe that the Earth is too big for us to have a real impact on it. This dates back to the Old Testament, and other religious inclinations that swayed society hundreds of years ago. The Earth is viewed as immortal, evergreen, etc. But think about it. It isn’t. It’s just a ball of matter.

Think of any ball of matter. Actually, lets think specifically of a ball of wood, the size of your hand. Put a lit match to that wood—just one. Now, it probably didn’t light up. Add in a few more matches. It might still not light up. But eventually, it will, right? Maybe after 10 matches, it lights up on the side, but dies out quickly. After 100, it ignites. That’s the problem with man-made climate change. It takes literally billions of matches to make an impact, because the Earth is huge. If you saw your house burning, you wouldn’t say “that’s nothing.” You would be thinking “Oh god! How do we put out this fire!?” The science is the writing on the wall, in the moments before ignition. The fires have started, and while some have burned out, people are still lighting matches. It won’t be long before it burns up.

Ok, yes it is true this is a bit of a crude metaphor, but it is a metaphor for a reason. And the logic is sound. The Earth is a ball of matter, like anything else, and it can only be burned so much. Pulling out of the Paris Agreement displays the ignorance of this situation. Truly caring for citizens—both of Pittsburgh and the rest of the world—is to protect them, their children, and all peoples there after.

——

 

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I WISH

I wish the stop was as good as the start.

I wish the crop was as good as the carte.

I wish my time was as good as my tits.

I wish my rhyme was as good as the Ritz.

 

I wish the world was a bit more wise.

I wish the pearls were a bit less prized.

I wish my head was a bit more healthy.

I wish the Feds were a bit less filthy.

 

I wish, I wish, I wish, I wish,

But in the end I’m just a fish,

Barreling down into a sea

That’s full of bigger fish than me.

——

 

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LIFE AS A FISH

I woke up in a strange skin. I felt slimy, wet, and scaly. The air choked me, and I floundered on the dirt. I had turned into a fish. I had no clue when it had happened—or how, for that matter, but I looked around desperately for a water source. I could feel the heat in my gills as my body began to grow desperate and dry. The cool dirt below me made for a soft landing as I bounced toward the river. I remembering feeling so dexterous—so malleable, much more than I had in my human form. Eventually, after an eternity of struggling, I managed to pop back into the water. As I broke through the surface and into the current, I could not help but stay motionless for a moment. Sinking into the water was like sinking into a chair after a long day at work. All my worries washed down the river away from me.

When I did finally open my eyes, I looked at the wondrous world around me. Perhaps the human eye cannot distinguish it, but under the river looked much different through a fish’s lenses. I could see the water moving, the flow of the current pulling every minuet piece of dirt and rock from the bottom, and down the stream. I could see the moss cling helplessly to its surroundings as this monstrous body of water tore at it, day in and day out. And I could swim! Oh, how I could swim. I felt like a snake, slithering through the jungle. I could list slowly from side to side, as if removed from the current, or dart rapidly around if I desired.

And I was, surprisingly, alone. I recognized this river; it was by my hometown, less than a mile down stream. As a child, I would play there with the vigor of youth. I would run through the trees, to the riverbank, and stare endlessly at the water below. I remember the red, yellow, and grey fish dancing around in front of my mesmerized eyes. As I got older, I gathered the courage to catch one, though I was never successful. My hands would tremble inches from the water, just above my target, and I would spear into the water as fast as I could. Yet somehow, every time I broke through the surface, it was as if the fish had disappeared. By the time the ripples of the water had settled, I was empty handed and there were no fish in sight.

As I looked around me that day, there were no fish to be seen. Not as if they had disappeared down stream when I had splashed back into the water, but it was empty, lifeless, and alone. I waited for hours—though I have found that time as a fish moves much differently than time as a human. Faster. There’s much less to worry about in the mind of a fish. I nibbled about on various things that came down river, hoping that eventually a friend would join me. But the void of the river was silent, save for the whir of the current around me. I poked my eyes above the water briefly, to look around at the world. It looked so different; so dull. I felt a sinking feeling in my heart, like I would always be alone. I would never seen my friends again. I would never see my family again. My home was gone from me, and I from it. And in that mess of doubts, I swam downstream and away, never to return again.

——

 

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SKYLINE VIEWS

Why ruin such a beautiful view

With buildings?

Can you picture the skyline

Devoid of human progress?

 

No pointy buildings

No gashes on the clouds

No cars running

And drowning out the sounds.

 

No rows of dead trees

From the polluted air

No smell on the breeze

From the industrial lair

 

Just you and the hill for miles to see

Can you picture what that wonder would be?

——

 

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WATER IN A CUP

Hello everyone,

 

Today I was watching the Daily Show with Trevor Noah’s interview of Obama. During it, they briefly talked about climate change, which of course is an important topic for many people—either positively or negatively. Now, I am a pretty strong believer that climate change is real, just like the vast majority of scientists out there. However, a lot of people do not believe it. So, today, I would like to address those people. And, I would like to start with a question.

Do you think the Earth is infinite? If you do, you should probably stop reading this because you are wasting your time. The Earth is not infinite. It is vastly bigger than you or I, but that does not make it infinite. If you can agree with me and you think that the Earth is measurable, then I would implore you to keep reading. Like all things measurable, the Earth has a distinct beginning and ending. Whether you believe it was created by God or a Big Bang doesn’t really matter to me. Just that you realize that, as it was created, so too will it eventually end. Sound fair? Ok, so, now I want you to think of all the water in the world. Put it all in a cup. One huge cup. Can you do that for me? If you get a big enough cup, you can. Right? Now put a drop of black arsenic into it. Doesn’t do anything right? But if you add a drop every day for a year, you have 365 drops. And if you do that every day, for 10 years, you have 3652.4 drops (leap years mess up math). Still, it does not really impact the water that much. You could probably mix that water around, take a sip, and be perfectly fine. But this is one person. One person does not make a massive impact on the scope of the Earth.

Now picture 7 billion drops, per day, every day, put into the water. Suddenly that adds up a lot quicker, doesn’t it? At what point is the arsenic water something of a hazard to you if you have to drink it? Now, this is a bit watered down (pardon the pun), but take this concept and apply it to every other aspect of human resource mining. Pollution of the air. Deforestation. The list goes on. That stuff doesn’t just go off into space. It hangs around here with us. You wouldn’t expect to live if you put your head in a bag for a few hours, would you? Eventually, you would suffocate, because you would burn through the oxygen in the bag and be left with something you could not breath. So why can’t this happen on Earth. Things don’t just get sucked back out into space—we wouldn’t be able to breath if that were the case, because all the oxygen would be gone.

The Earth is like a tracksuit. A little running isn’t a big deal. You will heat up for a minute, but when you stop running you will be fine. But if you keep running, the track suit itself will heat up too. And then when you stop running, the suit is still burning up. And eventually it will cool down, but before that you might be so unbearably hot that you have to take it off or it will kill you. We have been running for a long, long time. We used to be walking. But for the last hundred years, we have been sprinting. Sprinting so fast that our legs are heavy, and the tracksuit around us is burning up. And we can’t take it off until we stop running. Have you ever tried to take your cloths off while you were running? You either slow down to do it, or you fall flat on your face. So I impress upon you, if this all makes sense, even if there are minor holes in it, consider the possibility that we might need to do something about it.

CELEBRITY STATUS

Hello everyone,

 

Do you ever wonder what it’s like to be a celebrity? I certainly do sometimes. It would be kind of cool to have people pay for your drinks, be seated earlier because the whole restaurant recognizes you, and have the general public aware of the good you do in life. Of course, it’s not all perfect. In fact, it’s probably harder in many way to be a celebrity than to be someone more average. For example, because your every movement is tracked, it certainly seems possible that if you ever had an affair that the whole world would know about it. Which maybe is fair, since cheating is a pretty immature thing to do in life.

But lets say its something more innocent, like, let’s say that you, being rich, decide to splurge a bit and buy a fancy car that isn’t the best for the planet, around the pollution levels of an average car, then you are questioned about your commitment to the Earth and its well being. You say you love the Earth and want to see it flourish. A magazine writes that you are misguided and a hypocrite because you have the money to afford a car that will actually help the planet. Now, for you, have things really changed? Probably not, but the world would see you as someone who could do better, but decided not to, simply because you bought a nice car.

It’s things like this that make the position of celebrity a blessing and a curse. Leonardo di Caprio is another example of a celebrity where this is potentially true. By being extremely outspoken about Global Warming and other aspects of society, he puts himself out there to being ridiculed for various issues. I mean, lets say he just goes out with some friends, and one of those friends drives a Hummer. And the paparazzi takes and publishes photos of him getting out of it. Suddenly there’s a whole story about how his caring for the planet is some false public rhetoric in order to gain support for liberal candidates that are also hypocrites.

See how easy it is to be the blame? Some celebrities have accepted this and even embraced it. Take Kanye West, he’s a prime example of a celebrity that has accepted all the hate and shot it right back at the world—calling the screams of his haters his superhero theme music. Then again, Kanye is often seen as the kind of person that we should try not to be. Generally selfish, vain, abrasive. He’s not really a stand up citizen. He is, however, one of the biggest names on the planet. So I suppose there’s something to be said about that. Meanwhile, the celebrities that are doing good for the world—including Leo, Emma Watson, and a slew of others—are kept relatively in the background of the media coverage. So…maybe we should critique the media as well as our own television watching selves, rather than the celebrities? Is that fair? Let me know in the comments!

SERI, BLADE OF THE WIND

     CRACK! The tree split in half, a clean, horizontal split through the middle of the truck drifting almost elegantly for a moment before gravity kicked in and it came crashing down. My eyes widened with amazement.

“How did you do that?” I asked.

“It’s simple really. I just pictured the tree, then pictured myself cutting the tree in half.” My mentor, Teysa, stood before the tree with her sword out as she turned to look at me. Just moments before the monstrous trunk of the tree had appeared so secure. Ancient, like the air around us. “If you can picture it, you can do it.”

“But I’ve been picturing it!” I moaned. This was day three of our training.

“Well you aren’t picturing it right. Maybe you’re picturing yourself cutting through the tree, but you’re picturing it as something impossible. The point of this is to make what seems impossible, possible. Get it?” She looked at me with a warming smile. “Now take your stance in front of that tree.” She pointed to a tree about twenty paces away. It couldn’t have been more than three hundred years old. It was dwarfed in comparison to ancient one Teysa had just brought down.

I walked over to the tree, opened my palm to it, and pressed my fingers into the grooves if the bark. We were taught to listen to the trees before we cut them down. Trees don’t think the same way as people. Where we take greedy breaths of air, and gorge our faces with the bodies of other species, the trees provide for others. They understand that all species are develop in new ways every year. Just last year we began to see the wolves turn whiter with the snowy season. It was making them harder to avoid during our hunting sessions.

Trees also don’t speak like we speak. They sort of just shift a little bit. Like how a bird will twitch it’s head about when it hears an unexpected noise. Except really slowly. It’s awe-inspiring. I waited until the tree stopped shifting. That’s when they were totally calm.

“Sorry” I whispered. Then I stepped back and drew my sword. It was beautiful, about the length of my arm, engraved with the names of the heroes from each generation. I had yet to earn my name’s place. I took a long, slow breath. I could picture it so clearly. The rough edges of the bark. Myself, standing before the tree, like on Silence Day, standing before the shrine of Apatha. The wind, blowing through my hair. The slow rustles of the wildlife around us. I could see myself take a strong step forward, bringing the sword around like a viper darting at it’s prey. I could do this.

I opened my eyes. I looked dead at the tree. I could feel the earth vibrating below me, like the I had my hand on the pulse of the world. I inhaled again. The air was crisp and cool, with the light smell of mint. I took a step forward, closed my eyes, swung my sword and…

     Chink. The blade bounced harmlessly off the bark. I slumped my shoulders, defeated.

“Well. That didn’t work. You looked so focused too. Maybe next time.” Teysa said.

“Yeah. Next time.”

GO OUTSIDE

Hello everyone,

 

I feel like not enough people go outside. I mean I know I don’t go outside enough, despite the fact that I’m writing this in the meadow during my lunch break. Seriously, we get cooped up inside our living spaces that we forget that there’s a beautiful world right outside our doors. Sure, some people live in the industrial bedrocks of society, and if they go outside they are lucky to see trees at all, but most of use have access to parks and what not. Yet we still stay inside. Why is that?

My first hypothesis for why people stay inside is because it feels safe. We are innately programed for survival. It makes sense that we would want to stay safe by hiding inside something that is, essentially, impenetrable to dangerous animals. It also secures us with clean(er) air. I live in the L.A. area, which is known for being mediocre in terms of air quality. Certainly there have been strides forward, but we still have quite a ways to go before we are actually healthy.

Still, I would think that, with the lack of vitamin D absorbed from the sunlight, people would venture outside more. Not enough people go on walks anymore. I was out on a run yesterday, in the unexpected rain that we California’s have no idea how to cope with, and I saw an older couple walking with their dog. They were just chatting, bundled up appropriately for the weather, and enjoying their free time together. Why don’t more people do that? I think it’s because we have become anti-social with our segregated housing. We are pressured to be independent beings, which pressures us to have individual houses with individual rooms. Sure, privacy is important, but if we justify locking ourselves away with that, then we end up accepting our hideaways as a social norm. That’s not good.

Isolation leads to depression. Which is, simply put, bad. Our brains are wired for social interactions—we like to work together. But we have tricked ourselves into being separated. Which is simple and understandable when we live in a world that rewards us for our individuality. Maybe it’s just a romantic concept, but I think we should be excited to go out and talk to people. It’s an opportunity to make new, valuable connections. Which is ironic, since I often seclude myself due to my stringent requirements in life. I have no doubt it is harder to do in practice. I know the group I am currently next to, who have been chatting non stop about “girls” and “being that guy,” are a bit intimidating. They get along so well, and I am just awkward. Yet it is important to be willing to rise up and face these challenges. And it starts with going outside.

So take a walk, read in a park, take a nap on a bench. Eat outside at a restaurant. There’s a beautiful world at your fingertips. And even if it isn’t right in front of you, you can go find it. Or better yet, you can make it.

THE LAKE

Hello everyone,

 

The deep, grainy gray of the water was impenetrable. He couldn’t see through it. Even his own reflection was lost in the waters. It was so corrupting that even the suns hews seemed to dim. And it was still. Not still like the silence of an empty room, or the long abandoned trees of the forest. It was still like a panther tracking its prey. Waiting for the right moment. Of course, the boy never noticed this. He was too busy looking for sticks to satisfy his curiosity.

What was below the thick layers? How deep could it be? The lake was big, but not enormous. Maybe 50 feet in diameter? He wasn’t a very good judge of distance. It couldn’t be more than a few feet deep…could it? He finally found what he’d been looking for: a wiry stick, thin and elastic like the antenna of his dad’s Chevrolet. It swayed back and forth as he toddled back to the banks, stepping through the once green reeds, dulled to resemble the water they no doubt fed off of.

He kicked off his shoes and bunched his socks up inside to keep them dry, despite their brown stains from his adventures that day. The bank was cold. And muddy. Not the pleasant kind of mud that he played with at home. It felt like a sticky wet sandpaper, with rocks finding their way between his toes as he walked. Each step toward the water was accompanied by a gross SCHLOP sound. He looked back at the water, tantalized by it’s mystery. He paused. What if there were monsters? His eyes grew wide and he stopped in his tracks. He heard his dad’s voice, though there was nobody around for miles. You’ll be fine. He glanced around. The sun was hanging low, on it’s way home from another day at work. He wondered what it was like when the sun got home? Was he always on edge? His dad used to always be on edge. His face would scrunch up like a he’d stepped on a tack at the littlest sound that was out of place. A cup knocking over. A book closing too hard. The pitter-patter of his older brother trying to sneak back into the house like nobody had heard him. We always heard him.

He felt the water pour over his feet as he stepped in the lake. It was deceptively smooth compared to the mud he had just trudged through. The ripples from his feet water broke the silence of the waters for a moment. It looked like the strings of his uncle’s harp when he played with them. Back and forth and back and forth. He put his stick out, unintentionally breaking the water a few times as it swayed up and down with his momentum. He held it above the water until it was still. Then he touched the tip down, making a perfect circle diffuse outwards. He smiled. He stuck the stick in deeper, fishing around for whatever he could. He pulled the stick out, wide eyed in anticipation. Nothing. He tried again. There was some resistance this time. Monsters.

He froze for a moment. Then slowly he pulled back on the stick. It looked like a serpent, smooth and silent. Then on the end of the stick was his fear. A little plastic grocery bag. It probably used to be white. The water pouring out of it broke the silence. He pulled the bag off, tearing it on the knobby parts of the stick. Why was it there?

 

 

Happy Earth day everyone! Make sure you are cleaning up after yourselves!