The third quarter of our school year is almost at an end. But that’s not what I want to write about.
There is a war in Eastern Europe, started by a madman with access to nuclear weapons and a previously demonstrated and re-confirmed complete disregard for the lives and safety of his own citizens, let alone those of other nations. But that’s not what I want to write about.
There are nations slowly being swallowed up the sea and entire cultures at risk because drought, floods, and/or wildfires are threatening the very land they depend on. There are millions who have died or been disabled from a global pandemic. But that’s not what I want to write about.
I have a splitting headache (again), and back pain – both kidney-related and muscular (again), and my hips are not sitting properly in their sockets (again). But that is NOT what I want to write about.
I want to write about the vernal equinox.
Those who know me are aware that I have a rather peculiar (unique, individual, out of the norm for people of my background) relationship with “religion” in general and almost no specific rituals or practices. But one part of both belief and practice for me is the concept of “recycling” which in some religions shows up as reincarnation and in others is nearly denied. I firmly believe that, no matter what (physics pun, get it?), we continue in perpetuity in some form that celebrates and delights in the dynamic balance that is our universe.
Today I am human, as were many of my ancestors. I exist.
Today I am not as healthy or active as I like – but I do exist.
Today I am allowing myself to rest, to rejuvenate, to re-order my priorities so that I can continue to exist for my students, my family, my friends.
Today is the vernal equinox, a not-so-mystical point in the cycles of the earth when the light and the dark are in balance. It’s a good time to reflect, not on ancestors as one tends to do for the autumnal equinox, but on descendents. Look toward the future.
After all, it’s why we plant our crops, planning for the months to come.
It’s why we plant perennials and trees, planning for the years to come.
It’s why we have descendents, planning for the generations to come.
It’s why we create structures, form alliances, provide education, support communities.
It’s why we simply must consider more than just our own needs and wants, and why, even if my own small efforts do little against a tide of indifference and consumerism, I still must attempt to lead a just, conscientious, respectful life.
Right now, when my friends have grandchildren (and when my younger friends have children) I rejoice, but I don’t encourage my own children to become parents. Even when I know that ultimately there will be balance…
When we look toward the future, right now, we know that in some corners of the world it’s not so bad – but we look farther afield and find drought, famine, pestilence, and war.
Our world is not in balance, even as we learn more and more about both the planet and the universe and marvel at the wondrously complex and beautiful systems we encounter.
In my Pollyanna-ish way, I see the world striving to renew herself, reacting (albeit slowly) to several centuries of insults against “Nature.” I see that, in the long run, our world will likely survive, preserving some of the beauty that exists and also bring forth completely new and wonderful systems that are again in balance. Nature is amazing that way.
In my cynical way, I don’t see humans in those new and wonderful systems. Nature can be harsh that way. It’s “justice,” Universal-Balance style.
This vernal equinox, and those to come, will hold echoes of the renewal and optimism of those of the past. We will enjoy watching the life and growth all around us.
I fear though, that for many this year and for our future equinoxes pain, despair, and sorrow will be increasingly common for millions each year. The world thrown out of balance will reclaim her equilibrium… at great cost to some and with benefit to others.
This vernal equinox I choose to look not so much at the re-greening or even at the increasing light, but at the destruction and changes wrought by humans against each other and against Nature. What can balance against these things? Nature is not likely to ask our permission to reclaim her own…
Our species will be tossed about as balance is restored, and though overall there will be balance (and my judgment is that balance is good) our continuance as a species – our continuance as individuals – is not guaranteed.
This vernal equinox I stand in my own life facing decisions: where should I put my energy? Where can I rebalance my own life? Will re-establishing equilibrium in my own sphere of influence create a big enough ripple to protect those I love? Those whose lives I touch?
Can I, should I, take a bigger role in working to mitigate the still-unbalancing forces of corporations and powerful individuals? Or is it “enough” to try to make my small corner of the world better?
Leave the park cleaner than you found it. Stay on the path, and pick up garbage as you hike. Use the least amount of fuel to cook and stay warm… Don’t piss in the stream you will drink from… Nature can heal herself (to a point) and then — ?
The wheel of the year, the cycles of time, the rhythms of the universe will still turn and dance. We may not – at least in the form or with the consciousness we were born to. That is a glorious, awesome, terrifying reality.
This vernal equinox, I want to write about responsibilities we have toward ourselves, our families, our communities, our world. But all I can think about are the children who are being born into a world where war, pestilence, famine, and drought are an increasing possibility – and a daily reality that shapes their very short lives.