Tuesday, May 17, 2011
The World as It Is
And I responded Well said, Aron and true. For me, the present really is pretty awful, and I don't want to be here. Whether in the woods in trance or at my drawing table or remembering my childhood, I seek to leave this world as it is, and enter an alternate reality.
What got to me about this, so that I woke up thinking about it, is that the world really is awful for me. I'm heartbroken at the cruelty and greed. It's a fallen world, as the Christians would say, and there's really nothing I can do about it. Oh, yes, I can have an impact on my immediate reality, but that's an uphill battle, too. Our school district has been without a contract for three years. The children are struggling with the effects of digital immersion and many of them can't sustain attention through a single page of text. The gas companies threaten to frack. The college kids desecrate the old cemetery.
I'm not bitching about this reality or being mindlessly negative. I accept it. It's what's real, but can I avoid nostalgia and live fully inside of it? Can I have compassion for this fallen world and find true peace in it? I escape at every opportunity into my beloved woods or the artistic trance. Can I stay in the present moment of techno-consumerism? More to the point, do I want to?
I remember when I was 18, sitting in a McDonalds with Neil, munching burgers that tasted like ambrosia to me, and declaring that I would never remove my children from the real world, the way my mother had removed me. My children would be fully a part of the sparkling, delicious, contemporary moment, and watch the latest movies and eat fast food and live in the city. I was young, and the young see the good.
But the latest movies make me cringe and assault me with violent imagery and the burgers I loved have made me sick and the city is ugly and noisy. I've come to terms with it, but do I want to be fully present in this present moment?
Do you like it here in the present moment? Do you enter into it fully? Can you imagine something better or do you, too, escape into alternate realities? Thanks, Aron, for asking me to think more deeply about nostalgia, and thanks to readers for sharing your thoughts about this, and best wishes to all,