Saturday, March 19, 2011

Survivor Guilt

Last spring, it was the unbearable lightness of being induced by watching thousands of gallons of oil gush into the Gulf of Mexico every day. That nightmare scenario dragged on for months, without anyone knowing the end of the story. Would the well ever get capped, and if not, would we all be swept away in a tsunami of oil? That had to have been the most ghastly scenario I had ever experienced in my lifetime. Those deadly weeks of anxious waiting while engineers and scientists applied heat, applied cold, applied anything they could think of, to stop the bleeding.

It seemed to me then that some safety lock had been taken off the world--and that a face-off was occurring between the forces of man-destroying-nature and the forces of nature-destroying-man, destined somehow to end badly for both. A gaping wound had opened in the world, with sirens of alarm sounding that would never go away. Eventually the well got capped, and the pain dissipated--only to return again in other forms.

In rapid succession, floods of biblical dimensions inundated parts of Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Australia; an earthquake struck a major city in New Zealand; maniacal blizzards pounded the US all winter long. Pandora, her hair on fire, leapt out of the box in the Middle East. And then the triple whammy of a monster earthquake in northern Japan, followed by a killer tsunami, and now, radiation leaks from the Kukushima nuclear plant, which grow grow greater every day. And once again, more deadly weeks of anxious waiting. Will they be able to prevent a nuclear meltdown? What will mad Qaddafi do hext? What will Obama do?

"The only thing President Obama seems decisive about is his indecision," declared an editorial in London's Sunday Express this week. Discussions of ineffectual leadership were once again buzzing through the internet. "What should the US do about Libya? What should the US do about the Middle East in general? What about the country's crippling debts? What is the US going to do about Afghanistan, about Iran?" Yeah, what? What, as a matter of fact, would YOU do? When in doubt, bash Obama. That usually works.

Personally I'm finding it a bit difficult to go on about my normal business as if none of this were happening. I continue to stand my lonesome watch as the guilty survivor, trying to process my part of the global pain, fear, and suffering.

"You don't want to become like that woman who has no future because she won't wear perfume," Virgil taunts, having appeared suddenly, like a Bedouin in the night. Today he is offering himself as my guide through hell--he wants, he says, to read me his favorite quote:

"...And when they ran out of rats, they chewed the bark off the mainmast." "Our wound," he continues, "is a genuine quantum phenomenon. Will it destroy us or wake us up? Is it a wave or a particle? I have three jokes for you."

"This is no time for jokes, Virgil. I can't laugh anymore. Or even try to laugh. About anything. Just stick me with a fork. I'm done."

Breaking News: US has launched military strikes inside Libya. Radiation found in Japanese milk, spinach.

It's all going to be A-okay, you just wait and see.


bob said...

On the other hand, I'd like to read those jokes. In dark times, laughter salves a lot of wounds.


Anonymous said...

Waiter, I can’t seem to find any oysters in this oyster soup.
Would you expect to find angels in angel cake?

Anonymous said...

What did the girl oyster say to the boy oyster?
"You never open up to me."

Anonymous said...

What do you call an oyster that wants to join a convent......

A cloister oyster