Reverb10:Day 5-Letting Go

The Wizard of Oz was filmed in 3-strip Technic...

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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.

My Owner’s Manual

My friend Michelle has a new baby.  I fully expect her to walk into the studio one day soon and garumph: “I wish these things came with instructions ’cause I’ll be dammed if I know how this kid works!!”

Babies don’t come with instructions, sadly.  None of us do.  But our cars do. And so do our washer/dryers and our DVD players.

But wouldn’t it be fantastic if we did come with some instructions?  A little booklet labeling all our parts and what they do and how to fix them if they  stop working?

With “Owner’s Manuals” in hand, we could look up how to replace a fuse or where the jack points were when we had to fix a flat, or how to adjust the steering wheel, and what to do if our airbag deployed.

Then, wouldn’t it be great if we could just hand our “Owner’s Manual” to our mothers, our spouses, our children, our bosses, and say, “Here, look on p. 32 to know what to do when I’m running hot.” And there, on p. 32 it would say, “Send flowers for no reason.”

With instruction manual in hand, they would know if this was a good time to move in for a long heart-to-heart, or if the fix was to just give us a lot of breathing space.

We are so complex, aren’t we?  And we’re all so different in our needs and in the ways we operate.  We need manuals!

We don’t come with them, I know, but c’mon, once we’ve reached a certain age, we KNOW how we operate. And think of how great it would it be, not to mention how much misunderstanding it could avoid, and time it would save, if we just wrote it all down and gave it to the people we live with?

That’s been my project this year: to write my personal Owner’s Manual.  How Kath Works.

There’s stuff in there about what to do if I go flat, if my door jams, if I don’t start, if my windows stop working, what to fuel me with for best performance, how to replace my spark plugs, how to read my instrument panel.

After I complete my manual, I will use it as a template and make one that you can use to make your own.

(cool, huh?)

It’s been an absorbing and fun project. My engine has been really running rough since I watched Gasland.  There’s been an ominous rattling sound coming from under the hood and nothing in the manual thusfar suggests a fix.

So I had to learn about it, and come up with one.

And what I discovered in the past few weeks is that when that kind of sound is heard I need to get in there and find the source of the dissonance.

And the way I “search” is by cleaning and purging my physical environment.

It has always been this way for me.  Whenever I cannot figure something out, I clean.  I organize. I throw things out. I polish.  I create filing systems. I iron.

Cleaning is a symbolic ritual.  In the act of cleaning my physical environment: pressing, dumping, organizing, dusting, tidying, I gain clarity on my “issues” as well.  Cleaning gives me time to think.  As I dump stuff and things, my mind dumps its toxic load into the task at hand, and becomes clean and clarified as well.

The thing rattling ominously under my hood (hood=mind) was Truth.  I had buried it there under comfy-ness and complacency and an unwillingness to be uncomfortable.

Gasland has forced me to look at where I live, and why I live here.  It’s forced me to define what “quality of life” consists of for me, and what I need from my “place.”

It has brought me to my edge.  It has forced me to define what I really value and what I am willing to fight for, and what I’m not.

The “fix” for what’s rattling under the hood is not going to be easy.  It won’t get fixed in one session in the shop.  But I have an “action plan” in place now.  I can drive again, because now I know what’s causing the rattle. It’s serious, but not fatal.

Hopefully I can deal with it for a few more miles until I have to take dramatic action. I am not a person who can “cross her fingers and hope for the best.”

I need to act.  I also don’t believe in wishful thinking, nor do I trust that people will do the right thing.  I don’t believe that “something good will come out of this.”

Nothing good will come out of this.  But at least I can see what’s happening and I have a plan for survival.

Disclaimer: No Inspiration Here.

I miss me when I’m not here.

For the past few days I’ve been checking in, hoping against hope that  someone might have hacked in and ghost-written me a post. Something witty and heartfelt, maybe.  Or uplifting and inspiring. Even something wicked and bitchy.

But no.  Every time I check, it’s the same: “Yosemite Boots.”

When a blog is called “Inspiration Location,” and its stated purpose  is to hunt down inspiring things and champion them, and the author is feeling so, so…

Let’s just put it this way.

If I was a car, I would have something ominous rattling under my hood. So I’ve pulled over and I’m not driving (writing) until it’s fixed.

I watched the documentary, “Gasland” the other night and it has put me into a complete state of despair. What was illustrated in that documentary is precisely what’s in the process of happening here, in this place, at this very moment.  “Gasland” is the future of Mansfield.

Ever since I saw it, I’ve been trying NOT to despair, and I am calling on all my practices to teach me how think about this (or not think about it).

“In a moment of difficulty, practice serenity.”

This is what I have been training all these years to be able to do, so I am trying to stay conscious and aware and witness it all, dispassionately and reasonably.

And breathe.

But what this might mean for a blog called “Inspiration Location” is that I may not be able to write happy, chirpy, “rainbows and unicorns” kind of posts for awhile because I’m feeling mighty low on inspiration.

It’s like my car’s in the shop and until I can get her up and running again, I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer here, doing a whole hand-wringing, what’s-going-to-happen-to-us trip.

(I really hope I don’t need a whole new transmission.)