last thursday evening we were having cocktails and she said “did you know there’s a hurricane coming?” i did not know. i don’t have TV at all anymore, and read the news as it gets filtered through twitter and facebook and email threads. she shrugged, and later on someone else in the bar or the street or the subway said “hey did you hear there’s a hurricane coming?”
then friday morning it was everywhere. there’s a hurricane coming. here? really? what does that mean? people went on.
then saturday, oh. god. there’s a hurricane coming. people are evacuating. they are closing down the subway. purchases of water and booze and food and candles and some extra supplies, but hey, we’re burners, we have everything. saturday night the streets were dry and filled with costumed revelers doing strange things in every direction, and on the news on the other coast the baseball team won again and the people rioted there. we went to a party for a few hours but honestly the whole thing is just exhausting. i am not young anymore.
the SF baseball riot unnerved me more than the weather predictions. in times like those it becomes so very apparent that so very many people – people who seem “normal” and socialized – walk through their days with torturous levels of anger, frustration, hurt, and fear inside, just waiting for someone to give them one good reason – or a bad one – to let it all out.
“i think we’re a whole society of overinflated balloons, ready to pop”, she said.
what if this storm brings out the riot everyone? the weather might be bad, but humanity can be even worse. *that* is terrifying, in so many ways.
sunday morning we went for a long walk, as the weather was turning and the reports were getting worse and it seemed like we might get stuck inside for days. who could tell?
monday morning the rain came on and then the wind picked up. from our apt in south williamsburg brooklyn the storm seemed no worse than any we had weathered in oakland, where we would stand and watch the wind blow and the streets flood for fun. but the reports came in that all was not well, that houses were flooding and hospitals without power and neighborhoods burning after explosions. and then the subway: flooded for the first time in 108 years. the tragic alignment of a full moon meant super high tides, pushed into walls of water by the hurricane wind, straight into southern manhattan.
around midnight the wind subsided and the damage of the surge was done.
and now, the tuesday sky is grey, the air cold and damp, and we all look around. what happened?
in the middle of all of this i had a small nervous breakdown. the hurricane was not just itself but seemed to be a manifestation of all of the imbalance, the confusion, the turmoil, the inequity in my world.
my studies are such that every i am consistently challenged to question what exists vs what we believe exists. from straight up HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU EXIST? to critical abstraction of the ideas that structure our reality to my psych prof saying that we are a traumatized culture, individually and collectively appeasing our oppressors in the hope that we won’t suffer anymore, which was probably one of the saddest things i’ve ever heard.
what exists, and how? only to come out feeling that we are constrained by so many ideas. prisoners of our own device. it seems highly intellectual, but it keeps the blue-collar man down just as hard.
the problem we have now is that everything is so fucking ambiguous. who is the enemy? is it them, or us? is it you, or me? is it outside, or inside? internal or external? who is the cause, and who is the solution? is it all just the same? then what the hell do we do.
through all of this there are the emotional tides that seem to be heavy in this season of our lives, the subjective internal chaos reflective of the ambiguously anxious state of the outside world. who are we in this? should i go on with my life if nothing is the way i thought it would be? should i be someone else instead? disintegration.
but then i have my friends who but their bodies on the line and declare themselves radical pragmatists, set the fuck out to change the world and not accept any presumptions for what will and will not do. those for whom optimism isn’t just a state of mind, but a strategy.
as always i find myself in between, somewhere between terminal crisis and utopian dreams. this would be ok but i do not feel like i am floating, able to swim in one direction or the other on my own accord. i feel paralyzed.
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