Metaphors

The first image of a black hole, from the galaxy Messier 87. (Credit Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, via National Science Foundation)

A year or so ago I wished for a black hole. It was an impossible wish, of course, and as the months passed, I chided myself for what seemed a whimsical descent into fancy. A black hole? In my lifetime? I would never be that lucky. So, I forgot about it…until the above image appeared all over social media and the news. I knew the sight of that burning ring, with its dark, unfathomable core, should have delighted me; but it didn’t. It freaked me out.

To make matters worse, while visions of black holes mushroomed across my timelines, so, too, did a story about a woman whose eye infection was caused by sweat bees nesting in her eyelid and feeding on her tears.

***

Last week, I was going to respond to other media frenzies, but let the urge pass. Trust me, I had built up a nice head of steam and had plenty to say; but because I knew it would get me more blow back than I wanted, I worked and practiced instead. Better to release that steam on productive endeavors and let my literary and musical works-in-progress benefit from venting.

***

But now there’s that hole, those bees…

And I do not have the steam to make them less portentous in this mad, regressive time. I do not have the words. I’d rather not be freaked out by nature’s timing, nature’s metaphors; I’d rather just be awed.

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Imbalance

There are polar bears amassing in Belushya Guba. Have you heard? This Russian town has had to set up patrols because melting sea ice has forced the bears to look for food outside of their natural habitat. Polar bears raiding garbage cans. Let that sink in.

***

I dragged my trash and recycling bins back through several inches of slush today. Last night it was ice, and the trees and porch and railings were coated with it. I have cleats on my snow boots, but they don’t soothe the terror I feel every time I set foot outside on a wintry day.  It’s so easy to slip. Too easy to fall.

Polar bears.

I don’t know why I’m fixating on them—the thought of opening my door and coming face to face with a polar bear—with all that’s happening in the world, but I guess that’s human nature.

And I wonder about the relevance of those hungry beasts so far from their element, trying to survive, make a place for themselves where they are unwelcome and unwanted, because they are beasts after all, and will do as their nature dictates.

One really can’t blame them.

***

It’s been a hard winter. Polar vortexes, storms, and other unpleasantness. I keep thinking the other types of pleasantness would be easier to weather in a warm climate.

But then there are those grapes, luscious and fat in the sun’s honeyed glaze, awaiting transformation. What will their fate be if the soil turns parched and needy?

My boots are stored and drying, their cleats remain strong and ready.

Polar bears.

I hope the lids on my bins are secure.

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(Recommended reading: “The Birds” by Daphne Du Maurier)

Here and There…

There’s a bird in the neighborhood on a frenzied calling streak. I’m familiar with most of the feathered fliers nearby, the way they look, their habits, the sounds that rise from their throats, but this one is new to me.

***

I’m wrestling conflicting plot turns in my latest project. Part of me wants to disable a major character with a stroke (let’s call him Character One), in order to push another major character into taking a risk she would not ordinarily take (we’ll call her Character Two); and the other part of me is resisting, afraid the stroke will seem too pat, too manipulative. I mean, it’s not as if I haven’t set it up, laid numerous hints that Character One’s condition is fragile enough that such a thing could happen, but really….  Then, of course, I wonder if I, or anyone else, for that matter, will believe Character Two’s willingness to put herself in harm’s way if he doesn’t have it.

It’s a conundrum.

***

Lately I’ve been particularly irritated by the phrase, “Ordinary people,” particularly when it’s employed by politicians and media personalities.

If ever there was a way of creating a divide—no, a chasm between groups, designating one as special, the other not, it’s that.

We were all born pretty much the same way. We all need liquid and nourishment to survive. We all process that nourishment via the same route (some with medical modifications). We all have vulnerabilities—flesh that can tear, bones that can break, organs that can wear and malfunction. We are all constantly fighting and adapting to microbes we can’t see, or worrying about surviving weather that is worsening and becoming more severe and destructive.  We all depend, to varying degrees, on assistance for survival. In the most fundamental ways, we are ALL ordinary.

Still, the other night, I heard the host of a late night news show say that the flag-draped casket of our recently deceased past President was going to lie in state so that “ordinary people could walk by.”  Why not simply describe the people attending as, “mourners?” Why even make a distinction?

I know there are people with unique abilities and gifts who merit recognition and honor for their heroism, contributions, innovations, selflessness, and brilliance. But is it really necessary to spotlight their accomplishments by calling everyone else ordinary?

***

Clues notwithstanding, I don’t know if I’ll be happy if I let Character One have that stroke. But I know I won’t be happy with Character Two’s motivation unless he has it. Would more clues help? Or would they stick out as laughably obvious?

***

Sadly, that bird stopped singing. Maybe it was resting here on its way to its winter home. I hear they are expecting record snowfalls in some areas down south, while here in the north, it is crisp and sunny.

So, I think I’ll take advantage of this spell of indecisiveness and go for a walk. Maybe I’ll hear other bird songs…undoubtedly ordinary to their own kind, but to me, nothing short of miraculous.

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