Nothing to Lose?

I do have things to lose. And the fear of losing them is often enough to keep me outside the ring of fire and away from the ladders that lead to high diving boards.

The fear of saying things in public that I once had has mostly dissipated, and I now mostly blurt out whatever comes into my mind. Even when I’m by myself, I’ll imagine holding forth. This morning, I imagined being in an auditorium where the speaker asked the assembled listeners–“Does anyone see a way that our planet can be spared further damage from the industrial complex and its uncaring exploitation of resources?” Unexpectedly, I not only didn’t stand up; I hoped that no-one else would either.

I didn’t want to be the person who offers the solutions that the human race has not implemented in all the time that this destructive behavior has proceeded unabated.

My issue is not whether I have anything to lose; my issue is what is worth pursuing in this life, since everything, whether I pursue it or not, will eventually be lost.

That’s a paradox, isn’t it? If nothing that we know and care about will survive (not our bodies, our families and friends, not the civilization into which we have been born and which has given us treasures of culture and understanding; not the human species; not even planet Earth whose living body has given birth and nurtured living beings both like and unlike us), is our time here on Earth no more than the blossoms of a spring morning?

Or does that very fleetingness make these things the more precious? Do these emanations–welling up like spring water from a rock on the mountain side–offer us the promise of another realm, perhaps to follow this one, that our species is now destroying?

What is this sense of home that I want to deepen? Knowing, in my logical mind at least, that life in this world is like living in a hotel from which I will check out sooner or later, how can I feel at home? When we see that our world is burning down, flooding, the site of countless murders, we can wonder what it will feel like to finally check out.

Some people no longer feel that this hotel is their home. They check-out in spirit and come back to steal the wallets and catalytic converters of those who still live here. Others, no longer satisfied with stuffing a few monogramed towels in their suitcases, without fear of consequence, redirect credit card bill payments into their own accounts.

Even those of us on our best behavior, acting in ways we imagine that people in a world destined to survive should act, watch as disaster capitalists roam around the hotel common rooms, stealing silver faucets and shower heads. If the lower floors should flood when the water pipes keep running on the upper floors, well, perhaps there will be opportunities to make a few extra bucks in no-bid contracts.

But perhaps entry into another world needs us to first protect this one. Perhaps these times are inviting us to show ourselves worthy of a fresh beginning, here or elsewhere.

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