The news this past week has been staggering as we watch events unfold in Japan and Libya in particular. While at home we are measuring and debating economic recovery and tactics, it suddenly feels insignificant when we try to image the unimaginable: our homes destroyed, the loss of family and nuclear radiation threats, or the brutality inflicted upon a people by military men, not nature. The obstacles and hardships we face are subjective.
I picked up a copy of OURTOWN, a superb publication in Claverack NY, published by Enid Futterman and John Isaacs. A local paper, with a global perspective, Futterman and Isaacs include editorial coverage of everything from regional politics to local arts to food and anything else that matters in between. The current issue is named LOSS and I am grateful for their permission to share this opening editorial with you written by Enid Futterman.
What do we have to lose?
Only everything. From wallets to weight. Momentum to money. Passports to pets. Hair to hearing to earrings to equity, data, tempers, and jobs. And...footing, freedom, face, races, contests, elections, erections, status, sight, sleep, memory, energy, elasticity, minds, muscle, income, fertility, breasts, bone, teeth, strength, sparkle, houses, spouses, ground, track, youth, health, time, love, life.
Everything from the trivial and forgettable to shattering. Losses tend to mount with age, like books and photographs; in our town of Claverack, they seem to be piling up lately, or maybe we're just focused on the subject. But when there is more to look back on, than forward to, it becomes evident that loss is built in to life on earth. We can stave it off, lift our spirits and our faces, back up our data, insure our homes, cars, lives, but our biggest losses are uninsurable.
We risk loss the moment we begin to love; the more we have to love, the more we have to lose. And, of course, the converse is true. Lives lived without loss are lives lived without love. Love comes with loss. Joy with grief. Life/death. Light/darkness. Everything has its complement.
Time heals as well as takes, especially if grief is deeply felt and losses are fully mourned, but the old saying is a lie; time does not heal everything. What we have lost as a society, as a culture, may be so profound that time cannot possibly transcend it.
Once we took care of the earth as we took care of our own, because it was our own. We knew in our bones that she was our mother--our lives were intertwined with hers, and therefore, with each other's. But you can't insure a planet any more than you can insure a heart. They're just not covered.
Our losses as a community may be irretrievable and irreplaceable. Not only have we lost farms and farmland, woodland and wetland, beautiful old houses and churches, we've lost our connection to the earth, to the land, to the animals, and to each other. In fact, we've lost community itself. Once, we fed and clothed ourselves, and took care of our neighbors as well as our families. But we've been drifting away for so long, we are only dimly aware of what is missing, and sometimes we delude ourselves into believing that life is worth living online, and the earth will submit to rape forever.
We will either commit mass suicide by attempting to drive off the cliff of unsustainability, or inch our way back. What used to be...well, organic, now comes only with organization and legislation--CSAs and farmers markets, conservation and preservation, grief support groups, green building efforts, emission controls, but it does seem to be coming. That dim awareness seems to be growing brighter. Connections are being made; attention is being paid.
Sometimes it's loss itself, the worst kind of loss, the loss of someone we think we can't live without, the kind of loss that brings us to our knees and breaks our hearts open, that also brings us to our senses. We remember that we are one.
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