Monday, November 21, 2016

The future and the past

Fare forward, you who think that you are voyaging; 
You are not those who saw the harbour 
Receding, or those who will disembark. 
Here between the hither and the farther shore 
While time is withdrawn, consider the future 
And the past with an equal mind. 

TS Eliot

A reminder of where we have come from and how far we have gone.
When we were describing the journey to Kehoe Beach someone asked - 
how far do you go?
We replied, we go all the way to the end.

Suffering a week of post-election blues, we were glad to have a Yohana Junker and Devin Zuber's Ecology, Spirituality and the Arts class from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley come to visit our home/studio and go for a walk on Kehoe Beach.

It was a welcome respite from our dismay. Maybe we haven't navigated all the five stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, but as this monster-movie of a Trump administration shapes itself, we awake to the existential reality of a life vs. death struggle. We've become increasingly aware that the sixth stage for us is an awakening to the reality that a fight to the death is our new reality. "Winter is coming," as they say on Game of Thrones. Maybe it's more like, "Summer is coming." A very hot summer.

During the Viet Nam War era as Richard was being counseled to prepare a conscientious objector application he was asked: "Is there anything you would be willing to fight and die for?" This is just at the moment when he'd seen Earthrise, that quintessential photograph of the 20th Century of the earth floating in vast space. "Yes, I would fight for this loveliest of planets." There was no question about it. Although he did not get CO status, he did begin this life-long battle for what is right for the planet. 

As we are reflecting on the Obama presidency and are anticipating the Trump presidency we are counseled by Eliot to consider the future and the past with equal mind. Sage advice for sure - but this does not make it any easier when the appointment of the new director of the EPA is someone who disdains environmental regulation. As we stand on the verge of the known and unknown we strengthen our resolve. Although there are soooo many issues that need attention but as the saying goes we can't boil the ocean — we will continue to focus on what we, two people, on one beach, can do and make artwork that WAKES US UP! 

Apropos of the theme of the waking up on the journey we dipped into Dante's Inferno with a quick read of Sandow Birk and Marcus Sanders' translation. Published by Electric Works, our business in San Francisco.

About half-way through my pathetic life, 
I woke up and found myself in a stupor in some dark place.
I am not sure how I got there; I guess I had taken a few wrong turns.

Show and tell in the studio:

Some serious explaining
Some serious mansplaining

As we walked along Kehoe Beach picking up plastic (we were relieved that there was plenty) there was plenty to think about and talk about — big questions about the state of affairs and the state of the environment. We were glad to be able to show nurdles in situ plus Devin found a tiparillo tip and Judith found a Handi-snack cheese spreader. Joy found the prize of the day a bright red star. Red star….hmmmm….A sign the Russian bear is slouching toward Bethlehem? 

We were touched that the students were interested in our devotion to a place as a kind of religious practice and were happy to be able to share our ritual of "stoop yoga" — bending over and picking up. The stimulating conversations along with the invigorating brisk ocean breeze, made us feel so much better. 

At the end of the day, but certainly not the end of the journey, we turned again to Eliot:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring 
Will be to arrive where we started 
And know the place for the first time.

Thanks to Joy Barnitz for her photos:

Thanks to Doug Stinson for his photos: