Prompt: Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?
My first thought was that I’d write about my diet (sugar, dairy, alcohol), or my closets (clutter), but when I dug down a little deeper I realized that the most significant and potentially life-altering thing I let go this year was my hope that the Marcellus Shale drilling would stop, or at least be postponed until the gas companies knew how to fix a worst case scenario.
I thought surely there would be an outcry from hundreds of thousands of people (especially once they saw the movie Gasland) and this would cause the poobahs in Harrisburg to, at the very least, consider a moratorium.
But when I realized how much money was involved, and that the politicians were all in bed with the gas companies, I knew it was done. Nothing was going to stop it. Not even a disaster.
It’s a weird feeling when hope dies. There’s definitely some shame. It feels like giving up (because it is), and letting the bad guys win. And it feels especially shameful when there is an army still fighting out there. I thought: “Well, if they haven’t given up. Maybe I should soldier on, too.”
But fighting feels stupid when you know the outcome of the game is fixed. It’s like watching a baseball game where you know the umpires have been paid off, the bats have been juiced, and all players are going to swing at junk. The Marcellus Shale has been bought and paid for a long, long time. At least here in Pennsylvania.
After shame, came the trifecta of anger, disgust and frustration. “How can these people be so stupid! Don’t they realize what’s going to happen to the water?? You can’t drink money, you know! How can this be okay for you??”
Lots of people I used to think were smart are okay with this, and this was also baffling to me. I cannot understand why, when it is so clear to me that this is not the way to go, why these people are not seeing it. Is it greed, and the promise of becoming rich that is making them blind? I will excuse (maybe), people who are dirt poor and deeply in debt for being bedazzled by the prospect of not having to worry about money for the first time in their lives because clearly poverty has blinded them. But what about college professors and other educated, well-read people who have lived their whole lives considering the consequences of their actions–what’s blinding them??
Could it be that I am the one who is blind? Could it be that I’m the deluded one who is not seeing how this is going to be a great thing for the area, bringing in new jobs and Lowes and Sheetz and all the other things that people are pointing to as the signs of progress? What’s wrong with me that I can’t see this?? Oh, and energy independence–can’t forget that. Energy Independence! No more war with Iran and Iraq and the Middle East! Why can’t I see this??
(there are a million reasons I can’t see this, but this is not the point of this post.)
The point of this post is about letting go of hope. I have resigned myself to the fact that the drilling is going to go forward. But just because I have given up hope doesn’t mean I am okay with it. I am extremely not okay with it. Every time I have to stop talking in yoga class because I am drowned out by the roar of a truck hauling drilling equipment outside, and every time I have to wait to cross Route 6 with my dog as 11, 15, or 18 trucks barrel by going 50 mph in a 35 zone, and every day as I sit here, writing in my room, having to listen to and smell the diesel exhaust from truck traffic where before there was almost no traffic and the windows could be open and I could hear birdsong, and every time I drive through the countryside and see a multi-acre drilling pad scarring up beautiful PA farmland, I feel a squeeze in my chest, and a clench in the pit of my stomach.
You remember that scene in the Wizard of Oz where the Wicked Witch of the West sends Dorothy and Company through the poppy field where they fall asleep in a drugged-induced coma and then Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, causes it to snow so the poppies die and the travelers wake up?
Before hope died I was asleep in the poppies: the romantic, dreamy, soft-focus movie hid a lot of things I didn’t want, or refused to see, or admit, or acknowledge. When I let go of hope that the drilling might end or be suspended for awhile, suddenly the snow started falling and the movie snapped into sharp focus. I can see more clearly now, and I have a pretty good vision of how all this is going to play out.
It’s probably time to dust off my pinafore, gather up Toto, link arms with Tin Man, Scarecrow and Lion and get back on the Yellow Brick Road.