Monday, September 29, 2008

The Tank is Half Empty, The Glass is Half Full

Nostradamus would've loved being an American, because we'd have made his gig so much easier. I think Americans are just lil' self-fulfilling prophecies.

And Atlanta seems to be the trendsetter here. You know the horde mentality: snow flurries put the bread and milk industries into overdrive in the ATL. Tell us there may be a gas shortage and we make sure there is one. I'm really surprised two-thirds of Georgians haven't pulled their money out of their banks and hid the cash under their collective mattresses, causing further financial plight. We're more brutally reactive than an act three Stanley Kowalski.

Lest I be a hypocrite, I'm certainly guilty of this way of thinking too, and if there's anything good to be learned from all this recent chaos it's a line that the great prophet Gordon Sumner (Sting, people...Sting) shared with us twenty years ago: that we're "Forever conditioned to believe that we can't live, We can't live here and be happy with less."

God knows I've got more creature comforts than are necessary. To be a fan of Thoreau's philosophy while adding a whole second floor onto your house - ain't that America? (Ain't that me?). Blackberries, Ipods, Wi-Fi. Yet, for all my connectivity, I feel vastly disconnected from life much of the time.

But as I walked from church to the coffee shop and back again yesterday, I watched dozens of Decatur-ites on bikes and on foot, making their way to their morning obligations. No one seemed stressed, no one seemed frantic or angst-ridden about their plight. I know folks will be more antsy today, trying to catch MARTA or figure out the whole carpool thing. But, it seemed like people were somewhat at peace with things yesterday, and if only for a fleeting moment, it felt like we weren't the panic-stricken little worker ants, but people embracing the ebb and flow of a world that we - at least for the moment - cannot control.

I could sorta hear that Foo Fighters song in my head as I took in the leisurely smiles a sunny morning - even a tempestuous sunny morning - brought: "In Times Like These, You Learn to Love Again". I dunno. I saw a flock of geese fly over. I saw a hawk. I saw families walking, laughing. Maybe there's a lesson in all this we're not supposed to miss. Maybe there are things we're supposed to love tucked inside these clouds. Maybe we're supposed to notice.

Yes, it feels like the ghost of Tom Joad still looms over our shoulder, but yesterday reminded me that, though we're a selfish, grubby little species, we've also got the potential to put it into neutral, or even park, and make the most of a given moment.

Maybe the tank isn't half empty. Maybe it's half full.

3 comments:

widdiwoo said...

This reminds me of a story my friend Kitty told me about when she lived in Tokyo a couple of years ago. She noticed that everyone had a washer in their apts, but no matter how rich you were, it seemed that everyone hung their clothes out to dry, no one had a dryer. She couldn't figure out why, until one day she went onto her balcony to hang her laundry - and she could see the zen garden below, hear the birds singing, and watch the neighbors talking to each other from their balconies...

stacey said...

it's funny how sometimes limitations can be freeing. i like the idea of being even MORE careful about using gas, taking walks, bike rides...at least until next weekend when i have to shoot multiple weddings that are way outside atlanta. guess i'd better go fill up the hummer and a few extra gas cans, just in case.

Melissa said...

remember that brown out in NYC a couple years back? All the people crossing the bridges on foot cause the trains weren't working...