Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Answer

Many years ago, I first read the book, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams. It's the first of a series of books in a sort of sci-fi comedy genre--hilariously funny, very ironic. The Hitchhiker's series makes fun of just about every tradition, institution, and sacred cow we have in our western culture. If your exposure to it is by way of the TV series, or none at all, you should fix that.

My reason for bringing it up is that the premise of these books is that Earth was an experiment, basically a computer program set up by higher intelligence to come up with the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. After millions and millions and millions of years, it works, and the computer spits out the answer: 42. The trouble is, after all those millennia, no one remembers the Question.

I've been feeling a bit like that. For quite a long time, I've been changing, evolving, finding new bits of myself and discarding other bits along the side of the road. For a few weeks now, I've been feeling like I've "arrived" somewhere, since I don't feel a push to keep going somewhere else. But as I look around, I'm not sure where it is I've arrived. I'm pretty sure that there's a "point." There has always, no matter how stupid my life has been at times, been a point. So there must be one, but I'm danged if I can figure out what it's supposed to be.

I suppose that's why I've been writing less for the last month or two. The stuff I had been writing about--the stuff that ticked me off, the stuff that set an obsession in motion, even the stuff that made me smile--all seems to be strangely useless. My research has become more rare, less engaging, and strange enough that even when I find an "answer," that is, something that looks like an important thing, it has come to feel like no one remembers the question.

The only thing that has been making my list of stuff to do on a consistent basis, besides the stuff that I really can't avoid, like paying the bills and keeping up the day to day household stuff, is working in my garden. Each morning, as I look out the window for the first time, as soon as it's light enough to see, I feel the call. And, as soon as possible, I'm out the door to water and feed, pluck spent blooms, pull weeds, pinch back leggy plants, rout out squash bugs, spread compost, eat tomatoes and strawberries and beans pulled straight off the plant without even washing them, and plant more 'rescues' from the garden center. Rescues are plants that are no longer pretty enough to entice the average consumer to buy them, so they sell them for just about nothing to co-dependent keepers of strays like me who are willing to fuss awhile to see the bloom again. I do best these days in my garden. The answers I'm getting there are pretty straightforward, just like the questions. The plants are drooping--water. The plants aren't blooming--more fish emulsion. The plants are being eaten by grasshoppers--buh-bye grasshoppers. There are too many tomatoes--make salsa.

Other answers are floating about as well:

-Leave each other the hell alone.

-Say a big, vehement NO to the people who spend their lives trying to scare us of e coli, or shingles, or erectile dysfunction, or nuclear holocaust, or illegal immigrants, or radical islamists, or whatever, so that they can cruise easily to more and more capricious, ridiculous power over our food, our health, our government, and our money.

-We are all part of the same organism: the earth. When we attack each other, we're attacking aspects of ourselves. Our obsession with hurting other people to relieve our fear about our circumstances is the same psychologically as a cutter, who feels better when their own blood runs.

When do you suppose folks are going to ask the questions?

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