Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Tonight: Red Moon

Tonight is the night! A full lunar eclipse.

Here are the details (credit to Yahoo News)
"The eclipse begins at shortly after 8 p.m. ET (5 PT), but the first hour or so won't be noticeable as the Moon becomes lightly shaded by Earth's outer shadow, called the penumbra. Things get real interesting at 9:14 p.m. ET (6:14 PT, when the Moon begins sliding into Earth's full shadow, or umbra.
A dark and growing scallop will then gradually envelop Earth's only natural satellite. Once in total shadow at 10:23 p.m. ET (7:23 PT), the Moon might turn a shade of deep red that frightened the ancients. No two eclipses are alike, however, and astronomers can't say for sure what color to expect, if any."

I am hoping for a clear sky here in Upper Lake to watch the event. It should be dark by 6:14pm. In any case, hopefully it will be televised on FOX World Series coverage. (Makes me laugh, I am not sure why.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Rain and more rain

As I look out over the orchard this morning, I see two small deer: a doe and a young buck. They almost dance through the orchard. These two creatures must enjoy the warm sunlight after a gruelling night of rain. I know that I do!

It rained all last night on an already wet walnut orchard. The nuts that litter the ground are now sinking into the mud. I picked up one 5 gallon bucket of walnuts yesterday evening and am planning on going out there again today while the sun is shining between thunderstorms. The thing is, many of the nuts are coated in mud, so it's not near as much fun gathering them as it was before the rains.

Walnut-man-Bob is supposed to arrive with a large machine and shake the trees today or tomorrow. Renee's co-worker, Mr. Escalante, has then arranged a crew to manually gather the nuts for us. He told us that the walnuts will mold if we don't get them picked up, which makes them almost worthless. The rains caught everyone by surprise. In my 45 years in California, I do not remember rains like this in October.

All three dogs, Molly, Tara and Spock, have learned to crack nuts and eat the nutmeats. They prefer to do this with walnuts they have brought into the house, I guess it's more comfortable enjoying one's walnut on the livingroom rug rather than on the moist ground outside. Who can blame them?

Monday, October 18, 2004

Big Questions, too much thinking

I sometimes find myself wondering: can the world be saved?

As I think about this and I realize that this is the wrong question! To ask it frames the question as one of outcome rather than process-- it's like asking if you can win at life by getting to the finish line first.

First off, in my view, the world will carry on, and life will carry on, with or without humans, even if we spew our toxic waste into every ecosystem and bring about mass extinction, destroying the most amazing gift of diversity and beauty and soul. Life will find a way. (just think of cockroaches--even irradiation can't seem to kill them).

There are two more immediate questions, really:
(1) will humans discover the creativity and soul to awaken from denial in time to be a part of the next Age on this planet? and
(2) does it really matter? i.e. why care when it all seems to be going bad anyway?

To touch on the second question first...

As I said before, I believe that our problems--all of them--are fundamentally spiritual ones. We have taken the internal struggle of the human being: the struggle of free will, and cast this epic struggle upon our world. Every day, we as individuals are faced with a choice: between wallowing in despair and creating hope, between succumbing to self-absorbtion and reaching out to broader community... between destroying and creating, between choosing life and choosing death. It would be easy to numb the pain, to give up and say, what does my little effort matter? So what if all I did was to eat cheetos and get drunk and watch day time soaps? What if I didn't choose to engage in conversation, to love and create beauty and allow the natural world to feed my soul, to embrace change and growth in myself, to pray? Would it matter?

Well... does it?

To that question, I ask this: when an alcoholic reforms his or her life, even late in the game, don't we all triumph just a little from that act of courage? Aren't we amazed at people who face seemingly insurmountable odds and give it their all, even if they are not going to "win?" Every time one person chooses to live out of the best of their human spirit (life) over the easier road, it seems that we are all better for it, even if one alcoholic doesn't cure all alcoholism, even if one charitable gift doesn't eradicate poverty. Somehow, that act of living creates the conditions for Spirit to thrive. It matters in the doing, not the outcome.... all this is evidence that for some reason, our little choices matter to the order of things.

A better question might be: Why does it matter?

That's a tougher one to think about. It seems to me that each person longs to be truly alive. We find life in the process of our being and experiencing and overcoming obstacles. When someone makes a choice to face fear and darkness, somehow our best selves emerge, and we are all graced... even in the telling of the story. How much greater the grace when the whole of humanity collectively chooses life over death?

As for the first question: Will humanity ultimately make it into the next phase of Earth's story?
I say: why not?

There are lessons for us in the history of earth: again and again, the creativity of life overcame challenges to life on this planet. At times, it appeared to be so bleak that life itself would cease. But yet here we are, in all our complexity, despite the challenges along the way. We love, we live and for some reason, our choices matter to the creative life within us.

Go figure.

Sunday, October 3, 2004

The Party's Over

I read a book this past week entitled: The Party's Over. this book is a well-researched treatise on the world's dependence on fossil fuels and the likely effect of a very near term change: reaching Peak Production. This book says that petroleum engineers, oil companies and governments all predicted that this event will take place sometime between 2006 and 2012. The next 25-50 years will be unlike any we have ever known.

This isn't a book about running out of oil, it's a book about the economic, political and social changes that will come about after reaching peak production. It's premise: once we can no longer produce more, an economy and society based upon consumption can no longer grow. The decline can be disasterous or it can be somewhat managed, but regardless, we will see a dramatic change. The drama begins after the peak happens. An important conclusion in this book is that the sooner that we can acknowledge that the reason the change is happening, the easier the transition will be. The longer we stay in denial about the state of affairs, the more likely famine, war, environmental degradation and all sorts of human and ecological misery.

The frightening thing is this: those close to the industry now say we reached peak production this year. Think about it. At some level, we all know this is true. China and India are rapidly growing, and the Hummers and SUVs fill the roads in the United States, while our young men and women fight in the sands of Iraq to keep the oil flowing. Even with the oil from Russia's untapped fields, we will never again see a day when we can produce more of it than the day before.

In a sense, the book is right: the party's over. And yet, this is an amazing time to be alive. I predict that our deepest changes must and will be spiritual. From spirit, our creativity will flow. We can act out of love or fear. We must decide.