Angelic Daughter and talk about what would happen if I am ever “not in service.”
I think she learned that phrase from watching for the right bus to board on her way to a day program a few years ago. It’s come up lately as she yearns for me to go out, necessitating the presence of a favorite companion.
As my knees deteriorate and my blood pressure rises, I’ve been gently introducing the idea of what would happen if Mom was “not in service” due to hospitalization.
Angelic Daughter immediately changes the subject to me being “not in service” because I’ve gone to a concert, or on vacation. People come back from concerts and vacations. They don’t always come back from hospitals.
I never want to be “not in service” due to a personal health emergency. Yet in a broader sense, I’ve been “out of service” to humankind generally for a long time, using the pandemic, and my OCD, as an excuse for avoiding doing something.
The New York Times ran an interesting piece about Gen Zers who are pushing back against a the fatalistic idea that we’re past the point of no return on climate change. They think adopting an “it’s too late” attitude is a cop-out that allows “Doomers” to abdicate responsibility.
On the other end of the spectrum are those perky little pixies who seem to believe that everything will just work out somehow. Somebody somewhere will come up with a solution to save the planet in time and we can just keep tiptoeing through the tulips, driving our gas guzzling SUVs and heating our houses with fossil fuels until the climate wizard waves a magic wand.
I try to conserve energy and water. If I can ever afford it, I’ll buy an electric vehicle. That’s about as far as I’ve gotten on avoiding “it’s too late” on climate change.
As if existential dread due to climate change weren’t enough, I’ve also been hiding under the covers because global events make my writing seem trivial and self-indulgent. Since I wrote my last blog post (longer ago than I thought), a murderous megalomaniac started an obscene war for no reason other than his own ambition to become lifelong Czar of a lost empire.
I turn on the water to brush my teeth. Fresh clean water comes out. I think of Ukraine. And Somalia and Ethiopia and Yemen.
I open the fridge to choose from several options for what I’ll make for dinner. I think of Ukraine. And I think of Sudan, South Sudan, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
I look up at a beautiful, missile-free (may God keep it so) blue sky, and I think of Ukraine, and all the other places on the planet where there is armed conflict.
Stalin purportedly said “one death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic.”
The dead and traumatized must never become merely “statistics.” Yet the proliferation of global tragedy, war, famine, drought, and disease can cause that kind of disaster fatigue induced, paralytic thinking.
The images of Ukrainian refugees include elderly and disabled people. And now we discover that civilians not only have been bombed, their cities obliterated, but they have been executed, hands tied, mutilated, and dumped in mass graves. Others have been forcibly relocated. That is too frighteningly familiar. There are elderly people still living in Ukraine who remember the last time people were forcibly relocated, and never came back.
Through this horror, Ukrainians are acting like the heroes Americans aspire to be, fighting the bad guys with intelligence and creativity. Their success in halting enemy advances and pushing them back has been nothing less than astonishing.
And here I sit, tippy-tappy-ing out my little emotions and life events as if they mean something.
My church choir asked for help for a few Sundays when pivotal members of the soprano section would be unavailable. I went back, mask on, to sing again, and it felt great. It’s weird, feeling both trepidation and a little kernel of joy, doing something as ordinary as going to church, and singing. But I’ll take it.
But in the current world, does something as miniscule as hitting the high notes in the choir count as “service?”
I believe that music matters, although my role in it is small.
In Ukraine, professional orchestral musicians have shown how music matters on a much deeper, more profound level. They have brought their violins into bomb shelters and their cellos and horns out into plazas to play, to show they are still there, they are completely and triumphantly human, and that they will not let evil envelop them.
I sing for my church, and I think of Ukraine.
Looking forward to choir practice, and to Easter, I remain,
your fatalistic, pessimistic, optimistic, tippy-tappying,