01 January 2020

love is an action verb, but . . .


The year starts with the smell of baking. R is making flapjacks, or correctly, he is mastering the art of making flapjacks thanks to a large bag of unfamiliar chunky oatflakes that have been refused by the porridge eater (me) and now must be used up. This is the third round of flapjacks in as many weeks. We are approaching flapjack perfection.

Flapjacks are ideal for storage. I realise how ridiculous this sounds - this is definitely not a household where baked goods survive the idea of being stored and we secretly believe that people who open well stocked cookie jars to surprise visitors are doing this out of pure smugness, possibly baking cookies and keeping said jar just for show, which is admirable, I have to admit. Whereas we only bake sweet goods - or flapjacks - when we need to use up something that's been sitting in the larder. Seriously.

In the last couple of years our kitchen has become R's domain and I have to politely ask for permission should I feel the urge to cook or bake, which I do less and less. We obviously continue to argue about the correct way to stack the dishwasher, who isn't anyway, and the golden rule that cooks do not have to clean up still holds. But otherwise, I have become a mere visitor in our kitchen and since R has discovered that there are actual techniques and combination skills involved - comparable to the science experiments he used to oversee during his teaching years - he has created surprisingly tasty dishes.

I am running on maybe 30% of my available 80% but it appears to be completely sufficient for the tasks at hand. This is an improvement on yesterday when I slept through most of the daylight hours and after a short appearance around dinner time, went back to sleep, fireworks and all.

So, happy new year!

This here is what should count as my new year's resolution, and on a better day, I would try and find my own words to express it. Instead, I pulled some quotes from an essay by Mary Annaïse Heglar (the full essay is here):

There’s many different schools of thought about how we should feel about climate change. For decades, the dominant narrative has been that we should feel guilt. Then, there’s the dual narrative that calls for hope. Others have called for fear, or panic. I myself am on the record calling for anger.
But, I don’t always feel angry, to tell the truth. In fact, sometimes I’m hopeful, sometimes I’m scared. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed, and sometimes I’m downright stubborn. (. . .)
That’s because none of those emotions really get to the heart of what I truly feel. None of them are big enough. If I’m honest with myself , what I truly feel is…love.

I don’t mean any simple, sappy kind of love. I don’t mean anything cute or tame. I mean living, breathing, heart-beating love. Wild love. This love is not a noun, she is an action verb. She can shoot stars into the sky. She can spark a movement. She can sustain a revolution.

I love this beautiful, mysterious, complicated planet we get to call home. The planet who had the audacity to burst with life, from her boreal crown to her icy toes at the South Pole. 

A love like this doesn’t live in your heart. She’s too big for that. She’s in your blood, your bones. She’s in your DNA.

When you love something, or someone, that much, of course you’re frightened when you see it under attack, and of course you’re furious at anyone or anything that would dare to harm it.

. . . this love is strong enough to break through the terror. She is hot enough to burn through anger and turn into fury. She can shake you out of your despair and propel you to the front of the battle field.

It’s a love that can also —even in the teeth of these most insurmountable odds — give me hope. If I’m brave enough to accept it. I’ve seen her looking back at me in the eyes of some of the bravest climate justice warriors I have ever met, and I can feel that tickling tingle of “maybe, just maybe, we’ll be okay.”

And before we get all lovey dovey, let's not forget - in the words of the adorable Jarvis Cocker - that cunts are still running the world. We have our work cut out.




12 comments:

  1. I quite like that song, especially the part about shit floats. My husband has a saying, polish a turd, it's still a turd. We are a strange species, given to acts of great kindness and great cruelty. I often feel helpless in the face of climate change, but I think climate change is like death, nobody wants to admit it, we skirt around the issue but won't face it squarely until we are forced to.

    We pretend we will never die, until we're old. We pretend climate change is real-ish but do as little as possible because hey, who wants to do the heavy lifting? Both issues need to be addressed. We will all die and that cannot be prevented. The climate is changing, we need to do something instead of pretending, ignoring, avoiding, obfuscating.

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    1. This is such an excellent comparison, putting these two enormous events - death/dying and climate change - in juxtaposition. I am so moved by this.

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  2. I have the love but I don't have the hope. I have the fear that I hope will turn to hope but it all hinges on the outcome of our national elections in November because if there is not a complete change, there will be no hope.

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    1. I could agree with you but even the orange turd is getting older and he and his are not the be all and end all to/on this planet, try as they might.

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  3. Another beautiful, thoughtful, poetic post from you, Sabine. Thank you. You give us much to contemplate. I am concentrating on the word "hope" quite a bit. I think of Obama and his "Audacity of Hope" and how that is even more important than it ever was.
    I wish you and yours a happy New Year and one in which most days are 80%. Or better.

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    1. I often wonder what the Obama admin would have done by now regarding climate change.

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  4. I love that essay. I'm trying to find that hope. It is elusive. I keep looking. Every now and then something stirs it alive, and for a moment I exhale and feel it. I wish for you good health, good days, and delicious meals cooked with love, Sabine.

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    1. Robin, let's keep looking and stirring it up.

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  5. Yep. I've heard it said that the opposite of love is not hate. It is fear.

    Yep. We have our work cut out. No action too small.

    Happy New Year to you and R (I wasn't sure what you meant by flapjacks. With some googling, now I see!)

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    1. Oh yes, hate is born from fear, fear of the other.

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  6. It took me some time to come to terms with the flapjack. Surely flexibility was implied (I mean flaps flap, don't they?) and I was grievously disappointed not to be presented with something that resembled a pancake. Similarly with "cookie" (Wasn't there a more adult word?) and yet again "candy" (given that candy, as with candied peel, has little in common with what I would call, say, "a toffee"). But then I told myself that moments like these would characterise my decision to enter and work in a foreign country, ie, the USA in 1965. And, quite quickly, I discovered that the USA was the most foreign country I'd ever encountered, more so than Germany's ruins in 1953, Malaya's jungles in 1956 and Sweden's precisions in the seventies. Only Japan in 1988 beat the USA for being exotic.

    As a typical Brit I imagined I would remain untouched throughout these experiences. But things wore off on me. Yesterday, New Year's Day, I saw a neighbour inflating a car-tyre with a foot-pump, a laborious process. Briskly I walked across the road and offered him the use of my electrically powered tyre pump. Overwhelmed by this unforeseen approach from someone who lived no more than 15 m away, he incoherently turned me down; my British phlegm ensured I didn't feel put out. We Brits feast on non-events.

    But that gesture on my part would never have happened had I not spent six years in US suburbia. I was not born with a willingness to cross badly defined - nay, virtually invisible - social boundaries. Despite my gullibility (your harsh word) about Germany and its institutions, Gem├╝tlichkeit has augmented US Shucks-we're-just-folks and I can now accept the concept of an inflexible flapjack. A man of the world indeed.

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  7. You are not trying to tell me that a flapjack - not a flabjack, mind you - is unknown to you? I learned to make them in a farmhouse in Wiltshire and was until now under the impression that it was one of the ultimate English country treats.
    As for the poor unfortunate car tyre inflater, had this happened in any Irish neighbourhood, the tyre would have been pumped up in no time by all and sundry incl. jokes and maybe even song. Whereas in my staid suburban surroundings here in Germany, there would have been a period of watching from behind the curtains and window potplants followed by someone offering an electric version of the pump in due course.

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