Monday, October 29, 2012

High Water Everywhere

"It's bad out there...high water everywhere."  --Bob Dylan.

Today, we are in Day Two of Hurricane Sandy, a huge, slow-moving weather system crawling northwards offshore, about to interact with two cold fronts converging from northeast and northwest to create a monster storm, with the Halloween-appropriate nickname "Frankenstorm" by the ever-cute mass media.  It is due shortly to bend westward and slam into the Eastern Seaboard--Delaware, Jersey, New York, and New England, by tonight or tomorrow, complete with high tide storm surges in the full moon--they are predicting 11-foot storm swells washing over Lower Manhattan, possibly even inundating the New York Stock Exchange.  Everyone in the media is calling it "the perfect storm"--the worst possible combination of hurricane, nor'easter, and tidal swells aimed toward the most densely populated part of the country--with power outages, flooding--the works--affecting millions of people all at once.

Here, we are relatively lucky--our lights are still on (for now) and while we've had some local flooding and sporadic power outages, it's nothing like what is in store further to the north. There have been wind gusts, but so far (in our area, and as far as I know) not a lot of damage or fallen trees.  I have spent the storm time grading papers and reading Anthony Burgess's novel A Dead Man in Deptford, a juicy fictional imagining of the life and times of Christopher Marlowe. A symphony (or some orchestral work) by Alexander Borodin just came on the radio.

A massive storm like this, coming a scant week before Election Day, is one more reminder, in case we need it, of how utterly vulnerable we are to the vagaries of wind and weather.  It is also one more indication, should we need it, that rising sea temperatures due to carbon-induced climate change are causing more erratic, turbulent, and violent weather patterns throughout the world. I can only hope, of course, that enough voters see this connection that they might reconsider  Romney, who is, like most Republicans, in total denial about climate change, and would give carte blanche to coal, oil, and gas companies for a feeding frenzy on the planet that would push CO2 levels right up over the tipping point, into a cascade of self-accelerating climate catastrophes that might well spell the end of civilization as we know it, leaving only scattered tribes of survivors, fighting over the remnants. This massive storm could, in effect, be part of our collective karmic debt--Mother Gaia's revenge for our collective greed, ignorance, hatred, denial, and despair.

But whenever I find my thoughts traversing these dark pathways toward immanent, incremental apocalypse, I try to bring myself back to the present moment--breathe, observe, let go--and renew my vow to take care of everyone and everything, and abandon no one and nothing.  To be an agent, that is, of the Spontaneous Remission (if such is to be, as God wills) of the Cancer of the Earth.  And even if that cancer is terminal, to embrace impermanence, interbeing, and oneness, knowing that there is, at the ultimate level, no birth and no death, no time, and that Form is Emptiness, Emptiness is Form.