Interesting Times

Eerie

by Pat Gourley, March 2012

for SAGE Story Telling Group

The common definition of “Eeire” is strange and frightening. I would have to say we are living in very “Eerie” times. The recent large outbursts of tornado activity in the South and lower Midwest would seem to fall in into this category. I understand the pitfalls of equating weather with climate but come on folks storms of this complexity and intensity this early in the season followed a few days later by snow indicates change afoot and very “Eerie” change it would seem.

On a less global note and more personal I have to say there actually is very little “Eerie” in my life these days. Many things over the years that I suppose I would have defined as “strange and frightening” I now view with resignation and look on as inevitable.

Back again to a more global view I hold out more optimism for the human race than I did a few decades back. Household gun ownership in America for example has gone from nearly 50% in 1973 to about 30% today. There are of course a lot more people so the absolute number of guns floating around is probably as great or greater but still a promising trend I think. In a recent book, Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, a fellow named Steven Pinker argues that the world really is a less violent place than it once was and becoming more so as time goes on, something I think most serious students of history agree with. Humankind really is on a positive evolutionary trajectory.

Having voiced my optimism around our positive evolutionary trends I am afraid it will be simply too little too late. What I view as the impending climate catastrophe severely aggravated by over population will not be realized by a critical enough mass of humans to intervene in time and perhaps we are already well beyond that tipping point. I am reminded of what I will call a “prophecy” from an old lesbian feminist friend who to this day is fond of saying that mammals themselves were a mistake and eventually will be an evolutionary dead end. Though I am not sure I would agree with that I do have to say that the Catholic Church’s official stance on birth control for example is a truly genocidal viewpoint, unless of course you buy into their magical thinking around God creating the world to serve the needs of mankind. That is really goofier than Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.

It was for me an “Eerie” realization, I came to some years back, that this is it. Ideas of a life after this, reincarnation, heaven or even hells are all myths that humankind has cooked up over the millennia to deal with the “strange and frightening”. Most frightening of course is in my worldview the reality that once our current lives end that is it. Our own inevitable mortality just scars the Bejesus out of us, and so we cook up God, gods, Mohammed, Jesus, Yahweh and for some even the Buddha.

So you may ask why I don’t in a fit of nihilistic ennui just jump in front of a Light Rail train. Well I guess because the ride I call my life is really so fucking amazing that it has occurred at all I don’t think I should squander the opportunity even knowing full well it won’t last for ever.

In this day and age when moral vigilantes want us to contemplate the viability of every egg and sperm I have done just that and realize how absolutely amazing it is that I am here at all. Of course we are very lucky that “God” is the greatest of all abortionists with the vast majority of fertilizations never even implanting or humankind would have long ago succumbed to overpopulation or perhaps women would have really said enough is enough and taken over the world.

The great atheist Richard Dawkins is much more eloquent at expressing what I am trying to say here in rather clumsy fashion. From Unweaving the Rainbow:

"We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here."

When I think of it this way I guess the whole trip is Eerie- very strange and very frightening indeed, but I am quite thankful for the opportunity. I would close with an example from my life this past week. It involves reconnecting with an old friend I haven’t seen in over 20 years having lost touch with her completely. She was one of the folks I moved to Denver with in 1972. I received this email through my contact page on my web site a couple days ago and it seemed just a bit Eeire:

Hi Pat,

I had a dream about you last night and decided to Google you.  In the dream you were dressed like a monk in orange robes singing in an airport.  Who knows where that came from - maybe memories of Donaldo.

Just read your "How I got to Denver" and brought back memories.  Does that ever seem like a long time ago!

Am still out in California.  Finally migrated down from the Santa Cruz Mountains after 25 years.  Would have probably become the old mountain lady with a bunch of dogs in her cabin so decided it was time to join the family in San Jose.

Am not retired yet and work as a CEO of a non-profit organization providing health care for low-income kids.  After 18 years working with AIDS, decided to try something different and have been here for 10 years.  Lots of good people and good friends.

Wonderful to hear about what you have been doing these many years.

Love,
Sue

Glad to hear you still love the Grateful Dead. Some things do not change.

 

Eerie? My goodness yes and I love every minute of it and would have it no other way!

 

prev. Prev. essay - The ABC\'s of Life. Spirituality Index Next Essay Writing My Story next