Talking with a friend recently whose time is freer than it was. She notices a tendency to fret on her now-unscheduled days. That’s why people go to work full-time, I said. No time for fretting. I was going to be ‘at work’ this week, but without snow, my role as hut manager was postponed along with the ski-field opening. An ’empty’ week. I’ve completed the novel I’d been writing and fiddling with for the last 8 years. Finished my editing jobs and tidied up various loose ends. In this unscheduled week, I can do what I like (get onto the tax return, start a new writing project?) but without the sense of urgency and preoccupation that ‘work’ brings. There’s time to fret.
This morning I’ve read about the million-plus Rohingya people anticipating months of monsoon rain on their villages of plastic sheeting, bamboo and mud. There are around 66 million refugees perched or wandering precariously in our world. I read about the misogyny, racism and slavery mindset inherent in the sex-trade worldwide, which is millions of children and women living in poverty traps every bit as ineluctable as monsoons and mud. And I watch videos of a southern right whale frolicking (if that word can be applied to so many tons of limbless mammal, but it really does seem to be playing) in Wellington Harbour, enjoying the spectacle, but the question lurks: how much plastic is it likely to be imbibing from our coastal waters, along with plankton and krill? Our oceans are rapidly becoming Plastic Soup.
Fretting! Futilely — unless I find ways to contribute to the improvement of these huge problems. A small donation. A letter in defence of. A wish or a prayer. A trip to Bin Inn to buy groceries not packaged in plastic. Is this the best I can do?
Also these days, world attention has been riveted on the 12 boys and their coach holed up in the flooded cave in Thailand. We felt prickly with anxiety over their plight and the agonised decision-making of those capable of getting them out. The navy seals became heros, gods with the power of life and death. Why were we so mesmerised by this story? Because we’re all cave-phobic to one degree or another. Because children were involved. Because it had all the elements of a thriller movie, but with more at stake. Because it resonated with our human plight: we have worked our way into a tight corner. The flood waters are rising. We might find ways, like the meditating boys, to keep ourselves steady in the short term, in our local setting, but we imagine we’ll have to rely on people with more expertise and prominence than we to get us out of the worldwide fix. Is that how it is?
Waiting again this afternoon for a report from the mountain. Perhaps a winter escape.