I would love to not care. It must be so relaxing.
I would love to buy plastic water bottles and toss ’em wherever.
I would love to sit by the side of the road, in my handsome truck, idling, surfing Bumble or Instagram or whatever.
I would love to look at a menu and be able to order anything—to drink vealed dairy or smothered-ripped-up chick eggs, and eat fleshy bleeding meat, and complain about how well done it is or isn’t.
I would love to shop fast fashion, then shop again.
I would love to fly for an hour from one city to another.
I would love to stop caring, it is lonely often, and sad often, for my lugubrious heart must open and open again.
It’d be more fun to surf toxic porn and get to-go coffee, for-here and leave the door open despite the AC or heat
and say, who cares.
I would love to be anti-Semitic, or racist, or sexist, or classist, or anti-immigrant, or even to hate liberals or conservatives or the rich or poor. It would be so nice to be able to take all of my problems and slide them off the table into a group of people, and blame them.
Instead, I blame myself, and call it accountability. Instead, I soak in learning. Instead, I aim to live with discernment (many call it judgey), ethically, with joy, knowing I have more to learn and am not perfect, nor ever will be, and that all of that is besides the point. For the point is to be of benefit, not to show off for “likes” from people I do not know and do not know me.
But it’s tiring to care. I see 346 things a day that make me sad, or disappointed, or even mad.
I get my coffee for here, and sip it, savoring it. I bus my own dishes, and smile and chat with the baristas or shop owners. I bike, and I love biking, my heart and limbs and eyes and face and world opening up and breathing again. I buy my books used, I buy my clothes used, I do not eat the flesh of innocent beings, tortured then killed for our momentary pleasure. I fly only rarely, and I patronize only local shops, whether in Paris or my hometown. I never click “buy” on Amazon, never. I don’t watch Amazon films,
I avoid the masses and the uncaring, the well worn path of violence and power and $4500/night hotel rooms ’cause you saw it on White Lotus, while single parents are working minimum wage, in billionaire-owned chains, with only tired cars and tired apartments to help them through each day.
I go my own way, and that has made all the difference, and there are many like me who refused to be cynical or cop out or relax into nihilism or the comforting weight of willful ignorance.
Still, at 48, I am alone, much of my work and success reduced to rubble over the last year, my service weak, my efforts only the touch of a feather against a behemoth of suffering and waste that guts our world every single day.
The New Year’s Eve Party will be full of plastic glitter, driving between walkable/bikeable locations. The parking lot I just biked through is an empty mile’s worth of smothered earth. A lone deer kneels in the shadow of a high rise. The prairie dogs are no longer here, they were poisoned and bulldozed. The buffalo exist only in statues, on the Mall. Our world is cynical, and greedy, and insecure, and hateful, and we have normalized all of that and participate each day in perpetuating it, though ALL SIGNS POINT TO CLIMATE CRISIS, inequality, extinction.
And yet we people are hopeful, and kind, and looking for a lap to lay on, to take a nap that’s been postponed for 15 years. We mourn, we love, we hurt, we long for goodness. There are people who work hard every day against cynicism, to help, and there are plenty of victories for those who care, and there are many reasons to care, and signs of success in progress.
And yet the local forestry department cuts mature trees down, even when they could be saved.
And the newly reelected governor ships asylum-seekers to cold winter without coats or refuge, as a political stunt. Because we don’t mind the shootings or daily low-level fear in public places more than we love our gun culture.
It’s all right here, in caring.
But it’s easier to seek to defend against the slightest threat to our pleasure and comfort, first. There are women on social who defend the patriarchy “real men don’t cry, they’re tough.” Those ridiculous Trump NFTs, replacing his paunch with action toy muscles, though he avoided service and insulted soldiers. There are Christians who love to hate the poor, the sick, the refugee in Jesus’ name. There are people of color who play on anti-Jewish tropes, or are homophobic. There are progressives who make fun of folks struggling to pay their mortgage. There are poor who revere selfish billionaires, and there are animal lovers who eat and wear other animals. There are vegans who don’t give a care about plastic or climate crisis, which kills billions of animals.
So let’s get in on the gold rush, and to hell with caring. Let’s watch FIFA/World Cup (slavery, death, oppression of women and gays…whatever, said most of us).
There is plenty of company on that crowded path.
Or we can walk a lonely path—lonely until we find other strangers, other weirdos, other care-ers, and then it’s a celebration, a heart connection, a community.
It’s all right here, in caring, and the recompense is love.
Holy active love, and happy tears, a rainbow of sad and happy, joy and pain.
The recompense is felt even in times of losing, and losing, and losing—for in loss if we can be honest with ourselves even loss becomes a story to sing along to by the fire I do not burn because it pollutes so extremely.
I bike along the sunny path, and the ice is melting. I eat bananas shipped from monoculture field overseas on bread baked locally by a friend. I go now to buy zero waste organic vegan groceries, and I’ll smile and joke and connect genuinely with whomever is there. And then I’ll have another long night of alone, when work is done, reading, bathing, watching a movie usually half-heartedly, sleeping and dreaming to do it all over again. My life is seeping through my hands and each day is full of waste and service and joy and lonely, all of it.
I wish the human animal was designed not to care, nor to love, for the openness feels like a gap in the insulation through which the cold wind blows.
But, sometimes, that very same crack lets in love and sane kind honest delight, and I am waiting, and will ply my writerly Buddhist caring craft in the fields from morning to dark in the meantime.
I am waiting, and not giving up, though it would be easier, and more fun, though that fun is tinged with selfish willful ignorance.
So I continue on, and I look for others continuing on.