Saturday, March 12, 2011

Take a Senator Clamming Day

A half moon hanging in the sky late Friday afternoon does not bode well for clamming in these parts. Unless my nephew gets here real soon, the clams will rest easy today (which is all clams really do anyway). Some laws cannot be broken. A late day half moon means an early morning low tide.

No matter what.
Every time I meet folks with a bit of power or money (the two usually travel together), and in my itinerant careers I've met a few, I come away feeling oily, not because of their behavior, but because of mine.

Senators and CEO's smile, and tend to be bright, decisive, and charming. They like you. They want to help. They share stories about their children, about their towns. They're effective because they believe their own stories, and with reason. Their stories are true.

Because their stories are true, and because I like to be liked, I smile and nod and share stories, too. And then I speak my piece, feeling off-kilter; the message seems foreign when translated into Schmoozese, it loses its strength.

I watched children slowly die, over weeks, over months, over years from our cultural madness, and I literally sputter when trying to speak of the specifics, and sputtering does not translate well in Schmoozese. And at any rate, there is never just one person responsible, never just one organization, and the few times it is, no one responsible gets hurt anyway.

I bet I could tell my stories out on a mudflat at low tide, the sweet seething smell of life assaulting the nose of a Congressman as he leans on a borrowed rake, the soft sound of waves lapping at his feet, awakening parts of his brain he last used when he was a child playing outside.

Our stories, true stories, become real outside, as any stories about life do. There's a reason board rooms look sterile. If board meetings were held outside, we'd have a kinder culture (despite lower stock portfolios).

A few things are certain.
Something happened a long time ago, a something we will never grasp.
The tides will rise and fall in tune with the moon. 
And each of us will die.

I remember this at particularly bad times, like the day I watched the city burn from across the river, waiting for wounded that never arrived, or the few awful moments telling a mother her child will never hug her again. And remembering these certain things do help.

Most days, however, I forget what's certain, as most of us "living" in this culture, and the consequences are devastating, if not apparent.

My sister never forgot this, and danced every day. She also moved mountains. She could see the person behind the sheen. She could bring the mudflats into the boardroom, and she did.

I don't ever want to make people uncomfortable because of what I said. I just want them to understand the consequences of what they does. With the exception of psychopaths (and a few of them exist), people can, and do, change.


I'll leave lobbying to the professionals, those who can speak without sputtering, and not stare (or giggle) at the well manicured hands of the elite. I can't speak rationally in any room that won't support a plant.

Meanwhile, I'll take my nephew clamming. We catch live critters, and we kill live critters. If you do this fully aware of what you're doing, it changes you. At the very least, it will get you fresh food and spoil your appetite for the stuff that passes as fresh in the supermarket.

If any Senator or CEO wants to try a hand at this, let me know. The only condition is that you don't reveal my secret clam bed. We'll rake clams and` eat them before the next tide rises. I'll even break out the homebrew.

I promise not to talk politics. After years of trying, I know my words won't change you. But the mud might.

If you ever get a chance to dine with the elite, goodness, taste their wine. 
While food from our kitchen rivals anything the ultra-rich eat, I have to admit they drink some mighty fine wine.


Joe Henderson said...

This is wonderful Doyle. Thanks for writing it. To quote Wendell Berry, "Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup."

doyle said...

Dear Joe,

One of the joys of throwing words out into the ether-sphere is learning that people like you exist.

I gladdens me to know Wendell Berry's work is recognized among the young.

Thank you for stopping by.