In the Shadow of a Volcano

I slept in this morning. An old-fashioned flu is tap dancing in my head. And the news is unsettling. Understatement. The news is terrifying. Overstatement. I have made a decision to choose a few media outlets and not get my information from social media.

There is a voice in my head that says that continuing to write and put everyday meditations out there, cluttering the air-conditioned and carbon-emitting servers, is wrong.

But then: Do I just shut up, and give my life over to a single aspect of what is real right now? War has always been real somewhere in the world. What is the appropriate response? To quasi-educate myself on “this just in” facts that are often not exactly facts in retrospect? Often opinions and often unwitting reproduction of propaganda for some covert (to me) agenda. That’s not paranoia, that is reality. I am trying to un-load the propaganda of my own opinions, which are also a form of bias.

And I am not telling myself to be neutral. We border Russia. And blood-of-my-blood is literally on the line. I am not neutral.

There is a video on the news: Putin dressing down the head of his own foreign intelligence service. I don’t know that I have ever seen a man so terrified.

And I don’t know that I am not reading something into the video. I am not sure who would qualify as an “expert” in body language. And I would not claim that, but after teaching movement for stage (body language) for more than 20 years, I would say I have consciously observed enough to be justified going with my gut feeling here.

I wish I weren’t. I wish I could unsee the fear. Because now it is in my own body. Mirror neurons and all that.

Today I want to work on a particular poem sequence with erasure that is part of the wasp project. I feel guilty for turning back to such a personal subject matter.

And my body is completely confused. The mirror neurons set in motion. The image of Putin, leaning back, sighing, chuckling. It brings up memories of helplessness that my body can not sort, or shake off. The hide-under-the-desk drills, the step-father cleaning his gun…

Again, my doctor’s words (recklessly paraphrased): no matter the veracity of the details of the narrative, the emotions are real.

The neurons record. So maybe I can keep my head down in a small bubble of time and space and trust that my personal little project is still universal.

Then I can look up and take in what I can of the world here and now. Weaving, sewing myself in and out of the fabric of community?

That life isn’t an either/or of the individual and the community – it is a messy and very unregulated, self-deceiving geothermal pool. In the shadow of a volcano.

4 Replies to “In the Shadow of a Volcano”

  1. The fear is real. I’ve already had some of our children in touch about how scared they are at all this. Going back to personal projects should not be a source of guilt. Even in those projects there is an awareness of the world around. Even our simplest statements and projects can be political. I am not immune to this fear. And doing personal projects is not hiding, because there are no hiding places (like I said in my blog this morning). Doing those things, as yet hidden from public view, is an exercise in living through destruction.

  2. “I am not neutral. ..” yes, this. Vague fear crystalizes into something more specific. Also the emotions are real: they live in the body.

    And who’s to judge whether the personal is less “significant” than the public?

    We’re all part of the human community. <3