Looking Around

by tobias crabtree

There are days when I wake up dragging. Of course I got a few excuses up my sleeve, but do you wanna hear them? Really? That’s the funny thing about each of us as individuals; we think we’re an exception to the rule. We tend to think our excuse will be the one that people actually listen to. It’s so damn easy for me to forget that there is a whole world of individuals out there trying to find their way, just like me. There are ones that think they’re The Gift to everyone they meet.  There are ones that think they are less than nothing. There are singular little souls that don’t know that they have bodies that will win gold medals in some future Olympics. There are the quiet writers with shy words that glimmer like silver fish in their minds. There are the bossy ones who march around and use a loud mouth to get attention. There are the ones who are confused and don’t know why and they can’t make a decision alone but always need someone to help them. There are the ones that are a spark, loved by all. There are ones not loved and are starving for just a moment of attention.

I’ve been looking around me at the types. I’ve been marking my thoughts. These last few days I’ve been just looking at people, my kind, humans. When I force myself to remain neutral, I can observe and maintain some form of attitude that judges less. I still judge, but it’s less. Mostly, I have come away from the experiment with a kind of guarded hope. Mostly I try not to hope, mostly I try to try. Trying is moving and working to make something happen, while hoping seems more like waiting to see if something works out in a way that’s pleasing. But sometimes, hope fits the bill. Sometimes that’s all you get, you get to hope. Kinda like when a baby is being born and there’s complications, well, I ain’t a doctor, so I hope and believe that things’ll work out. I guess that’s how I feel about Us. You know, the big Us. I hope that somehow kids that are born a hundred years from now will have evolved into something less selfish. I hope they will love bicycles more than Mindcraft. I hope they will want to play in the woods and point at the warblers in the Ponderosas more than pretend to be adults in a coffee shop talking loudly about some “fool” they don’t like. I hope that the public, in general will have realized that social media is not as real as realness and that virtual friends that are numbered in a friends box are not actual friends that will walk to the river with you and cry with you or laugh at some face you made that always makes them laugh. I hope that a generation will come out of this generation and not be afraid to not follow the charlatans who want to lead with big words but no wisdom. This is what I was thinking about as the people walked around me as I sat and ate a slice of pizza in the sun.

My hope definitely goes beyond people, but I gotta include them because, well, because We the people are here in all our gloriousness/disgustingness. Like when I hope for rivers that run from the mountains to the sea and I worry that they will be trapped by some energy hungry company that builds a damn and so damns the fish and the life that can no longer happen as it has since rivers first began, back when mountains happened and the skies were young. I think about this because I’ve seen the streams of my childhood put into metal tubes and buried under concrete like they never even were. All the mint that grew along the banks is gone. Every salamander gone. Crawdads gone. Some of the cottonwoods, the ones that made the cut, still stand and hold the memories of that time before the humans came and covered the world. There is a relationship between the sky and streams, the streams and the stones, the stones and the sea, the sea and the trees, the trees and the whales…and so on. It’s there whether you think it’s hokey or not. Maybe you don’t like to think about stuff like that, but it doesn’t make it go away. One of our biggest faults is simply not recognizing the existence of that relationship. It’s almost like a thing we are intentionally forgetting because it’s not convenient. It is convenient to flip a light switch, it’s not convenient to put everything down for a few minutes, walk to the trees and listen. I think the point here is clear enough, but like I said, it’s not comfortable to think about the things we’re losing while we pander to ourselves. I think about this a lot, mostly because I’m as guilty as anyone every time I ignore the little atrocities that seem to come from every direction. Believe me, I fret over whether to hear the news or pretend like nothing’s happening.

I think it’s a choice. It’s all a choice. With what do you share your soul? If the most soulful thing you do is post witty quotes or videos that begin with “this guy did this, and you won’t believe what happened next…” on facebook or insta, maybe you should try turning that stuff off for a bit and go ask your grandma about her first kiss. Or ask your mom about the house she grew up in, or maybe what her fears were as a child. Ask your dad about when he learned to ride a bike, or if he ever skinny dipped. You see, it’s my opinion that these things are good for your soul. Things that create our person and form us are where the soul hooks onto us. And it’s our soul that moves about and mixes with the wind and rivers. It’s in the dark ocean and stars and as far out as we can imagine it to be. It’s a shadowy part of us that doesn’t really translate that well in these computer-type things. It’s what stirs us on the inside when we stare at the panthers that are pacing in cages. It’s what shudders when we hear about the polar bears swimming for places that no longer exist. These souls of ours have giant sails, they are powerful and capable but useless if we don’t tend to them.

Here we are, all of us with our sails up. The winds are blowing and blowing and the water’s deep and full of wonders both magnificent and terrible. We are all around one another and the stars are sharp and singing, and the planets are spinning above us in unison around the sun. It is only life and death here. We have our own existence, but there is so much more than that! There are stars that were shining on this earth before the first clock was invented, before time enslaved us and taught us to check in with the numbers that tell us what we should be doing. We are a thread in the most intricate tapestry. We have options, we can tend sails and fly like the wind herself, or we can go below and lock the cabin hatch and pretend like we are not on the sea at all.