The entrance is tiny as a cherry pit—how can I fit, rip, shape shift my big body through it? I take one peep and weep for having obtained the vision of unattainable Utopia. There, humans care. For themselves. For each other. For animals. For Earth. Alas, I'm on the other side, the one with parking tickets, chicken pox, poverty, and politicians. With floods, forest fires, landfills, and firearms. A human infested, ingested landscape painted with the foraged palette of soiled diapers. I imagine God is both a resplendent romance and horror film director, with one hand in heaven planting pink petunias and the other hand in hell conjuring an apocalypse.
Society is a whirling, moving, maniacal mass, and I am the eye of my hurricane. How can I get to where I wish to go? I fancy myself a blameless bubble wrapped in wrath—a sweet dream confined within a thorny thicket of blackberry brambles. How can I speak enmeshed in anger? A crowd of chaos clouds my care, pulls me without consent. If I halt to rest, if I turn to pause and process the past, if I extend a hand to the trampled, I too will be lost. Woe is me, tromp trudging through ego-land, fragmented from fantasy forever, hand on heart, hark the national anthem: money, money, money. It’s not that I don't care—it’s that I can't. Reality is a race I was entered into without will.
I consider my words "without will." Am I? Must I do as others do when the doing is dark? It would be a lonesome labor to leave...true. I thought reality tolerable before that peek of a perfect parallel planet, but now I know the jewel of jealousy. I can't redirect the regiment, but maybe...I could create my own paradise elsewhere. Why me worry what others do or think? Why undervalue my worth when I am worthy of the peace I wish for all living beings? Do all living beings exclude me? Without warning, I slam stop, with resolve so rooted that the mass has pushed around and passed. I realize willpower and capacity to craft my own consciousness. I choose to cherish, change, twist, stretch, inch, extend my compassion. Now I care for me.
Walking west, I recall my comical concept "without will." How silly to have thought myself a helpless victim, clearly consenting to the collective. Endless possibilities await all with appetite. Wait...do they? If a slave is a soul controlled, then many are slaves. A child can't consent, and multitudes are made to labor with worried wants. Women worldwide work for slivers of a man's pretty penny—to slam stop or demand integrity and equality would mean mutilation, separation, starvation and humiliation. Even I take a piece of their pie, for when I buy belongings exported from and exploitive of the innocent pawns of poverty, I pay not their wage, but the slaveholder’s. So what is the least I could do with my privileged power? I can put my penny plainly in the hands of the maker, boycotting bondage, protesting patriarchy, establishing equality, strengthening solidarity, respecting rights, comprehending craft, learning to love and appreciate the worth and work of that which I buy. I choose to cherish, change, twist, stretch, inch, extend my compassion. Now I care for others.
I take haste, still haunted by "without will." How could humans treat other humans as if animals, incapable of feeling pain...wait…what is with this thought? Do I see animals somehow less alive than me? Do animals not howl, yowl, scratch, claw, cower, cry out in captivity? In the crowd, I felt we moved as cattle to slaughter, yet I could stop. Could a cow? Because a cow's tongue cannot form "NO," does that mean she has no right to live her own life? Must we keep, beat, unsheath and eat the meat of all who cannot speak? A boy is born and burgled from his mother—crammed in a cage, could this creature fathom freedom? The mother makes milk for the baby's ghost grieved and gone, handled, hustled by humans, hurdled to slaughter: not a martyr, a slave. To she who craves cuddles, cud, cool mud, sweet grass, soft shade and warm sun, I give cruel and callous conditions. Why? To indulge in a course of corpse. To protect my skin with the skin of the unprotected. Could I be healthy, happy, hopeful, helpful without supporting such suffering? Yes! I choose to cherish, change, twist, stretch, inch, extend my compassion. Now I care for animals.
Excited into electric pace, I still wander, wondering on "without will." What now? What’s left unconsidered or flawed of the future? I’ve reached the salty solitude of the open ocean. She’s been here so long before me, and she’ll be here for so long after I’ve gone. In this I find the calm comfort of a universal comprehension. How do I love her more than any monument, meanwhile man is making a garbage gorge of her majestically welcoming, cradling arms? Do I have a role in her abuse? Yes. My passion for plastic, for convenience, for cheapness, for fastness, for disposability, for refusing responsibility. I prioritize my five dollar fast food over of the grave wounds and critical needs of a nurturing nature, who knows no governing, who cries, who tries to reveal my wrongdoing unto myself. I participate in the performance of air, land, light, thermal, verbal, visual pollution. I applaud radiation, contamination, genetic modification, pesticide, insecticide, formaldehyde, cyanide, oil spills, toxic pills, exhaust fumes, fossil fuels. Are these the gifts I wish to give the kids of tomorrow? In Utopia, one cannot patent or poison a piece of fruit—it is for all to plant and partake. Could I take and still give back with thanks at a softer, cleaner, slower pace? Could I pacify my frenzy enough to notice a natural rhythm, to rub a balm of love over my famished fever? Yes. I select a soothing shrine of green, a shiny sheen, a safety screen from my previous scenery. Here I have a new home, and I hunker in happiness. I choose to cherish, change, twist, stretch, inch, extend my compassion. Now I care for Earth.
Once upon a time called paragraph one, I imagined life a light switch: good or bad, black or white. Now I see caring in many shades, continuously unraveling in generations of thought, meeting in intersections and collating. Do I preach purity? No! I drafted here a decade of decisions as if all decided in a single stroll. Some harder than others, many containing false starts, and in many I still make mistakes. I am still arriving, rethinking, rerouting. I am still attempting to realize a dream, to foster a fantasy, to push it into reality, bearing the pangs of every stage of birth. Pregnancy is precious, painful, prolonged. Birth is brutal, beastly, beautiful. Birth is breakthrough. I know, because I was once a fantasy, a twinkle in my mother’s eye, a small star. Watch as we forge paths forward through the foggy, frothy, fantastic Milky Way. We can emerge, expand, evolve. Maybe I will never fit, rip, shape shift my big body through the tiny entrance of Utopia. I do care, though, and therefore must work to wiggle, loosen, widen it a little bit as a gift to lift the children of my children’s children up and through it. Then, perhaps, one day, they will realize there are no walls, and that what one does for oneself, one does for all.