Friday, September 28, 2007

flowers, with feathers

Woody Allen famously misquoted Emily Dickinson by saying that hope wasn't the thing with feathers, as she had said; it was his brother, and he needed to get him to a specialist.

Well, feathery things that are hopeful and sort of nuts have been getting to me lately. The guy who helpfully pulls his girlfriend's shirt down in back when she in her lowrise jeans leans over. Women running with big dogs. An Asian man of dubious English skills working very hard to understand and be kind to a young woman who is vigorously speaking to him about something. A bus driver radiating calm as someone on the edge of freakdom jabbers away at him in the front of the bus. A kindergarten girl, unaware of feminism or sexism, sitting confidently in a princess dress playing a video game defeating bad guys.

I don't know. I've often said here that part of my job in this world is seeing signs of revival in hell. So this is all easily dismissed as sentimentality, a la the blowing plastic grocery sack in "American Beauty." I suppose it is at least partly that, and is maybe entirely that...unless something in me is right to respond to signs of uncrushed goodness. It's not like my "Life Is Beautiful"; I and almost all I know are by world and historical standards fantastically favored. But the clarity of sight for icky things that comes when you do not fog your vision with some emotional / mental anaesthetic or another, does not require you to be a Rwanda survivor in order to immerse you in cynicism and sadness. And while there is more help than this, and needs to be more, nevertheless I think it's important for me not to lose the ability to see even just the widespread presence of partial efforts at goodness by all kinds of people, sometimes right in the midst of all the gack.

It is very true at this stage of America's history that If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention. But I need to remind myself pretty regularly that it's also true that there are flowers that can grow in deserts.


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