I make a mess. Cooking, crafting, gardening, playing, living. Things explode around me into scattered piles. There are people in this world who manage to keep their belongings orderly. They put things back promptly, cleaning up as they go. I am not one of those people. As I try to finish too many projects in too little time, scissors get left on the table next to the paper scraps and dirty dishes get moved onto the porch while I prepare another meal. Lately, I have been thankful that our tiny house limits the extent of my damage. I know just how large my mess can grow.
Early on in my parenting experience, I learned that I need to greet each day with a clean slate. At the very least, dishes need to be washed and the floor swept. That way I can spend those first moments of being awake feeling good about my existence, instead of spiraling into feeling frustrated by life's chores. This is often easier said than done, especially when Joey is off at sea. I rise in a state of fogginess from cuddling my girls to sleep, a little chilled in my transition from a warm bed and hungry for something sweet. I clear my eyes to see the charm of disaster. It is overwhelming more often than not. I want to knit, read my book, or write. But I know that I must focus my attention to the dinner plates first, if I'm ever to get myself to sleep at a half decent hour. So, I start. I heat the water and get my hands wet. The dishes get washed. Books, toys, and dirty clothes are put away. The floor gets swept. Tomorrow's clothes are laid out. Breakfast and lunch are prepped. And I fall into bed with a sigh, knowing that I can be kind and maybe even a little fun in the morning.
While my mess at home can feel big, it is the mess in the world that really towers over me. Inequality, war, destruction of the environment, poverty, violence- these are the dirty dishes that trouble my conscious mind. Overwhelming doesn't even begin to describe how difficult it seems to make real change in this world. The other day I stood on the ridge overlooking the hills, forest, water, and islands surrounding my neighborhood. As I entered stillness, I was first greeted by a chorus of kinglets and chickadees with the wind lending its steady rhythm and the rain its beat. In the distance, I began to hear the sirens and trains from the city below. This modern way of living on the Earth invades my soul and attacks my senses, and I often wonder if it is even possible to create a world of beauty and equality.
But if simply starting is what it takes to clean up my own mess, then hopefully taking a first step towards cleaning up the world's mess will not be in vain. With coal trains knocking on our doorstep and genetically modified crops invading the integrity of our seed supply, I wonder where to start. At first, I question my efforts and sense them drowning in the sea of convenience and comfort that our society is floating on. So perhaps I will start with hope, to feel hopeful about the power of compassion, optimism, hard work, perseverance, and those few seeds of light in what often feels like darkness. With hope, I will move forward and help bring the change I long to see.
And also with hope, must come action. Allowing the development of a deep water shipping terminal in Cherry Point that will invite coal trains to carry their loads through our neighborhoods on a path from Wyoming to boats headed for China will not contribute to a greater quality of life for Whatcom County or anywhere else. It is time to unite and make our voices heard. Public statements are being gathered until January 21st. Do no let your opportunity to be heard slip away. You can sign on to a prepared statement by clicking on this link, Power Past Coal. You can also customize a statement there. To find out more information or to read other comments, visit the Coal Train Facts website. There are also some great articles in the January 2013 issue of Whatcom Watch. Get informed and get loud! Together we can keep these trains off our railways. I have hope.