Do You Feel the Earth?

I am somewhere between a hippie tree hugger and a demolish-everything-for-a-mall type of person. I wish I did more for the environment, but I’m also super bad at remembering to recycle. In short: I need to do more.

This thought sprang to the forefront of my mind a couple of weeks ago when I was in Dallas on a business trip. I was driving on one of the major highways approaching what I remember my mother calling a “spaghetti bowl,” a ton of intersecting highways swirling and looping around each other, when I saw it. New construction.

My heart sank.

The ground was violently torn up, dirt flung in a large mountain built on the backs of dead trees. Their roots exposed from under the weight of the soil above them. Giant holes were in the ground where giant rocks had been pulled and piled near the giant tree graveyard. Machinery, buckets pointed down, lined the construction site like mourners during a dirge. It was the saddest funeral I had ever passed at 75 mph and the feeling hit me like a ton of bricks.

It felt at once like all the sorrow the Earth was feeling was boiling up inside of me. I drove on thinking about the spaghetti bowl and the road I was on and the many roads I have driven on and would ever drive on and what it took for those roads to exist. I imagined a verdant temperate forest springing up from ground, animals roaming freely, birds singing as they flitted between the trees. Then I remembered I was in Dallas and shook that idea from my mind.

I saw the red-brown clay beneath a vast grassland. Tall gray-green grasses overtook smaller yellow grasses and Black-Eyed Susans burgeoned throughout. In my mind, I was in the middle of the field, the wind blowing the grasses and flowers until they were bent in arcs and I felt it rush around my hair and on my face. I heard Pocahontas singing “Colors of the Wind” and then, just as suddenly as this deeply-connected imagery came on, I saw pickaxes tearing the Earth up and the advent of machinery that created pockmarks on the Earth’s virgin skin.

I saw the grasslands destroyed to make way for concrete and trees violently ripped from the ground and tossed aside like the history we so easily discard in our pursuit for future. Then I saw the same concrete, broken down slightly, but still overtaking the landscape a millennium in the future. The trees and grass and animals still gone as the cold concrete grayed out the variegation of the planet.

It was too heavy for me and I burst into tears. Driving down the Dallas highway, I burst into tears over a dirt pile because I felt the grief of the Earth over our past and our future. When I had sufficiently boxed back up my emotions, I realized I felt a bit of sorrow every time I see construction.

This is an inescapable dichotomy of my humanity: My grief for the destroyed Earth, but the easy ambivalence that comes back so quickly after the realization. And I wondered, Am I Alone? Do you feel the Earth?



Your Anger at Hollywood for Their Awards Shows is Misguided

I’ve been seeing a lot of “I’m tired of the awards shows for overpaid actors. All they are doing is giving themselves pats on the back” blah blah blah. I’ve been thinking of a response to it and I believe I’ve finally decided what I want to say.
Guess why they are overpaid…
Because YOU go see their movies and purchase the DVDs and buy their music. Because YOU buy products they endorse. Because YOU purchase the magazines or visit the websites that give us detailed information on their personal lives. They are “overpaid” because you are figuratively throwing your money at them.
This is also why McDonald’s CEO is overpaid, but I don’t see you giving up your french fries in a fit over it, and that’s more egregious than actors making millions because he’s taking the money directly out of the pocket of his employees.
Guess we why throw our money at Hollywood…
Because acting and singing are noble professions and we like to watch or hear what is happening and feel good or bad or literally ANYTHING in this stinky poo poo world. We like to see the girl transform herself into someone worthy of love or the guy drive a fast car and simultaneously shoot like 80 people while maintaining a speed well over 200 and never getting a speeding ticket.
We like the thrill of being scared out of our britches or figuring out the plot before the end. We need the release of expression to allow us to feel in this world where feelings are suppressed and the art our hearts long for is so far removed from us. In the theater, whether movie or stage, and when we put on our favorite tunes, we are connected, we are one, we are human.
Guess why Hollywood gives actors & musicians awards…
Because the actors do a good job at acting and the musicians do a good job at singing. At your job, right now, you deserve an award for if you are doing a good job. However, through no fault of your own, your company may have stopped giving awards or recognition for outstanding performance and that is unfair. But the company wants to cut costs or dehumanize their employees or some other nonsense that makes you feel like people don’t deserve recognition and appreciation for what they do.
Now guess what? That is all wrong.
That is a gross part of capitalism that drives our feeling of dissatisfaction with our employment and leaves us feeling less engaged than ever with our work. There should be an awards show for you, and if there isn’t, it is because your employer sucks. I can completely understand why you would hate to see others get rewarded, especially if those other people also live lavish, unattainable lives, but it isn’t them that deserve your anger.
Don’t watch it if it makes you angry about your own life, but the people receiving awards are the wrong targets for your wrath. Hollywood is uniquely American. We all worked together to create it. We all benefit from its existence. So enough with the hate toward award shows. We all know you’ll be front and center for the next Meryl Streep or Ryan Gosling movie anyway.