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A Bowl of Cucumbers and a Pot of Beans

Maybe it was just midnight mind talking. You know, that tendency to get all worried, scared, panicky, stressed about things in the middle of the dark and silent night that wouldn't ordinarily bother you in the light of day? Or at least not as much.

I woke -- around 1:30 -- got up for a glass of water, went back to bed and was unable to get back to sleep for more than an hour. Laid there worrying, of all things, about my writing/blogging. Even considered getting up and deleting all my blogs.


Several reasons.

Maybe I should be more private. More "off the grid." Less involved with "the vast machine."

Maybe my friends will think I'm strange if they read what I write.

Maybe I suck at writing.

Maybe my opinion is irrelevant.

Maybe it's a waste of my time.

Maybe there are better/more helpful things I could be doing.

Maybe this, maybe that, maybe the other.

I eventually fell asleep. And here I am, the next morning, writing again. I am strangely compelled.

Perhaps it's because of a deep and acute need to push through the shallow and inane in search of deeper awareness and understanding that I am compelled. Yeah, sometimes I worry that I ain't got what it takes. That I'm not capable of diving any deeper than the surface. But no, that's not true. I can dive deep. I can take it all in. And it's not just true for me. We all can. But mostly we don't. Mostly we prefer the shallows. Perhaps it's the sheer scope of all there is to fathom (pun partially intended), that gives us the bends -- some of us even before we descend. For me personally, the problem intensifies back on the surface where I have an even harder time breathing and describing and processing what I've seen.

Once in a while, one particular thing/observation/idea/event will come along and grab my attention and focus and I am compelled to write. And suddenly I feel totally absorbed, connected, fluid, coherent. And the end result feels meaningful and useful.

But lately/usually I feel overwhelmed by everything going on in the world. There is SO much that needs our attention and focus. So damn much. Where to begin? And what have I been writing about? Dreams, soccer, making silly audioblogs, doing the laundry...


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Yet, these things are important too, and not necessarily little or meaningless. They are the ordinary in life that we cherish. They are the ordinary that bind us.

I was reading a regretful but important article this morning, After Bomb Kills Loved Ones, Life Turns Ghostly, that tells of the tragic and devastating effect war has had upon one particular Lebanese man. A man who is, among other things, a husband and a father.

I don't know what it means to live in a land where bombs are dropping, and pray I never will -- though if we in America did understand this, maybe we'd be less likely to make the bombs, less likely to be in the business of profiting from them, less likely to export them, less likely to drop them, less likely to support the government that does...maybe.

No, I don't know what it means to live with the very real threat of a bomb landing on my loved ones or me. How can one live normally with such a threat? But I read the article and was touched by the semblance of the ordinary that existed immediately before bombs dropped and destroyed most of this man's family and self.

The rooms were still neatly composed, life suspended. Dishes were done. Laundry -- tiny pink pants, a head scarf, a bra -- was hanging on lines. But details showed something was wrong. The clothes were dusty from the pulverized concrete and soot of the explosion. A bowl of cucumbers and a pot of beans in the refrigerator were covered with mold.

I just can't imagine it. Can't imagine what it must be like to walk into the rubble and find your five year old daughter torn apart -- her torso and an arm separate from the rest of her body. To find your wife crushed to death. Can't imagine it.

I can't imagine what it's like to do the dishes, hang the laundry, and then run next door hoping to find shelter from a bomb only to be blown to bits.

I can't imagine how the United States is contributing to this carnage. Can't imagine how we have been visiting the same spectre of destruction and carnage and death (oh the shock and awe of it) upon thousands and thousands and thousands of Iraqi civilians for over three years now. And for what? Can't imagine how war is still a thing of the present. Can't imagine why we haven't found a better way.

There are so many other things I can't imagine. Yet they are happening. And they are overwhelming.

Maybe the only way to work through it at the moment, is to take decompression stops along the way. Little writes here and there. Go to the dark places and witness what's there. And once back on the surface -- out of the dark otherworld of fear -- work more diligently at a world I can imagine.

We can all do this, can't we?

Former Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell once said:

[In outer space] you develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, "Look at that, you son of a bitch."

Can we imagine ourselves, like Edgar Mitchell, out in space looking back at our precious planet and all its beautiful people and imagine a world like no other we've ever known? A world of peace, joy, equality, love, health, liberty, justice and unity for all--including the sons of bitches in power? Can we imagine all of us getting together for a bowl of cucumbers and a pot of beans?

That's what I choose to imagine the next time I have an attack of midnight mind.

Like Buddha said:

We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.

Debi Smith

Debi Smith

Debi Smith -- wife, mother, grandmother, and concerned American and human being traveling aboard this small mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam--writes from her home in Ashland, Oregon. She welcomes your thoughtful comments, and ideas about how we can come together in search of common ground, at

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