Question: Do I have a positive thought in my head today?
Something is munching on my just-emerged seedlings in the new garden plot. All of them. Anything young, tender, and vulnerable is getting eaten alive and the pace is accelerating. Two nights ago it was a nibble on a single cucumber shoot. Last night they took out two chards, half the marigolds, and they seem to be eating the black bean shoots before they can get their little, green heads above ground. At this rate I might lose everything tonight.
Of course, I could always go out there and do something about it. I could cut more plastic rings to keep the freaking, tiny terrorists away from my plants. Or break out the diatomaceous earth and sprinkle it around the stalks to slice the bodies of whoever’s-doing-this to pieces as they crawl toward my babies. But that would be intelligent and productive.
No, no. Better to just sit here paralyzed in front of the computer instead, wasting time and life surfing all the bad, bad news and worrying, worrying, worrying.
It appears that, just like the pace of seedling munching in my garden, the pace of bad news out there is accelerating. Sovereign debt crises. Persistent unemployment. Gargantuan budget deficits. Deepening recession. Floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, geopolitical conflicts, domestic discontent, drag-on wars. Gulf oil spill. Gulf oil spill getting worse. Gulf oil spill getting catastrophic.
I mean, really, I want to stay abreast of the news. I do. I aspire to be an informed citizen. But where-oh-where is the balance between staying informed and protecting one’s mental health? The other day when I told our neighbor about a funnel cloud that blew through the valley the previous afternoon, she said she didn’t know anything about it. My jaw dropped.
“Didn’t you see it on the news?” I asked her.
“Oh, we don’t watch the news anymore,” she answered and smiled. She looked serene.
I’ve been thinking about it ever since, wondering when the last time was that I smiled like that. When did I last feel that kind of simple peace?
Oh yeah. It was when I was working out in the garden, that magical place where troubles tend to first crumple, then disappear altogether. It’s like getting a lobotomy, only reversible. I can temporarily forget everything by sticking my hands in the dirt, pulling weeds, building compost, or just kneeling there in the grass lulled by the bees buzzing.
It’s a perfect place where birds sing, rain falls, and flowers bloom. A place where new life is always beginning, over and over again.
Like Disneyland, where the horses only poop in the service area and all the ducks are male so they never mate in front of small children…
Okay. Maybe it’s not perfect. Maybe it’s more real than that. In fact, when I think about it, there are terrorists in my garden world, too. Little No-See-Ums who try to stop all that new life by devouring anything and everything young and tender. But in all fairness I can’t really fault them for it. They’re just hungry and trying to live, too.
However, I can try and stop them. I can give my beautiful, beloved little seedlings some protection and the opportunity to grow…
…so that I can eventually eat them instead. (Who’s the terrorist now, eh?)
Silly, silly humans with our trans ocean oil rigs that are too deep to fix, our financial engineering that is too complicated to understand, our banks that are too big to fail, and all our other magnificent, wondrous innovations that may well be too brilliant to work. We can be so absurd!
Which is perhaps not the most positive thought in the world but it does make me laugh.
copyright 2010 Dia Osborn