Last night I was lounging on my Chippendale couch, like I do most nights, and started watching a program on a local TV station that was focusing on a State of Emergency enacted in Louisiana to alert federal government, and hopefully release resources, to curb the depletion of coastal Louisiana.
A panel ensued with various professionals, fisherman and citizens talking about what is currently happening to the coast and what people are beginning to plan for–the depleting wetlands won’t protect coastal folks from storm surges, so entire islands and communities are going to have to pick up and move somewhere else in the state within the next fifty years. The sugar cane crop is dying rapidly due to a rare insect and the dying crops are loosening up the soil further. The proportions of fresh water and salt, the endless tirade of how the state will be changing soon enough… Forever.
I visited the Gulf of Mexico a few weeks back. The water is darker than you’d expect, reminiscent of the Atlantic. It’s warm. You feel crabs scurry under your feet as you make your way into the waves. The oil rigs are in sight–the day I was there, I easily saw 15 in plain view miles off the coast.
Yet for all of the fear that is burrowed in us, all I felt was wonder. I thought wow… This is the Heart of the Caribbean, and it always has been.
I read this wonderful article today, I Believe In Inertia. The paragraph that births the title is particularly poignant. It reads:
“I believe in inertia. Large or small, physical or psychological, it’s a wonderful and horrible thing. A body at rest will stay at rest, sometimes for years, and a person in a job they don’t like will stay in that job for years. We’ll stick with routines that are bad for us simply because they’re comfortable.”
Why is this moving me so much today?
It has me thinking about the things I truly believe in my gut (think This I Believe) and before I can think about anything I truly, remarkably BELIEVE in, I think about everything I don’t believe in: politics, marriage, drugs, people, love, friendship, truth, myself. This sounds rather self deprecating, but whether it is a sign of the times or my own dark blanket surrounding me, I don’t hold much faith in many things at this point in my life.
However, the one thing I do believe in? The one thing that fills me with light, blood, memory, motive, empathy, vision, and truth?
The arts. Plays, books, theater, fiction, nonfiction, poetry. Pablo Neruda, Kiese Laymon, Jesmyn Ward, Dorothy Allison, Cheryl Strayed, Ann Petry, Toni Morrison, Lena Dunham, Harper Lee, Colson Whitehead, Eric May, Nathan Englander, Donna Tartt, Junot Diaz, just to name a few.
I believe in the almighty power of our own memory and documentation. I believe that one day people seek out history, they seek out words and experiences and perspective in a search for blueprints and empathy of the past to sort through the future. Shit, why have I been so obsessed with Teddy Roosevelt and John Quincy Adams?
It’s because somehow, someway, history snakes its way back into the throat of the moment and artists, writers of every shade, are the ones that document for the future.
The other day I was across the canal in the Ninth Ward and got stuck as the bridge went up to let ships through. A winding line of cars formed behind me and we watched as the metal mesh was hoisted into the air and held til the movement ceased. I don’t know how long the Ninth Ward will be on this planet, but we were all there to witness this.
Also, HBO launched a Writer’s Fellowship aiming to bring diverse writers into the company to partner with executives and hone in on screenwriting skills. The deadline has passed for this year, the window of time to apply is less than a week. However, remember that small little mark in time for next year.