Ken passionately tells me just how bad climate change is, how it’s exceeding all expectations, and with the effects of La Nina, next summer promises to be another above-average hurricane season with a 50% chance of one hitting the east coast. He’s sifting through scientific reports on the internet, critically examining projections with Daniel.
I walk down the hall to Natalie’s room, where she and Forest beg me to sit and watch some totally gonzo cartoons with them. There are animated men arguing, then exploding into fire; complaining sharks; miniature dancing men and more. “Wait, wait, it gets better,” they tell me, laughing so hard they can hardly speak while I stare at the screen, not getting it.
In my room, Bruce Springsteen is singing “Jungleland,” and soon Forest comes in to show me something else on the computer, mention he knows Dad is talking about climate change, but he’s trying to block it out. I nod in agreement. “No one is really talking about this,” Ken told me earlier. True also. And yet.
And yet the world is going to hell in a handbasket at alarming speed, and at the same time, there’s gonzo cartoons and rock’n’roll. “These are the materials,” Adrienne Rich writes in one of my favorite of her poems, “An Atlas for a Difficult World.” She goes on to say the materials are “wreckage, dreck and waste,” but also the frog’s call in the night, the moon rising, all the beauty and change and earth and sky happening simultaneously.
My mind isn’t big enough for this, my heart either. Yes, there are “whispers of sweet refusal but then surrender” in Springsteen’s song, the news Ken shares, the ongoing turning of the world. This is my life at this moment and beyond this moment. An infinity of things to do, people to save, urgencies exhaling with every breath of every being. And also the rushing water music of the piano in this song, the cat sleeping on Ken’s Dr. Seuss pajama bottoms, the kids — all three at this point — laughing together as they watch a video on Natalie’s computer. I tell myself each breath is a way to feel this life, to release it and take it in.