Poor construction

I’ve been watching this bald eagle nest for a few weeks now. Mama (Liberty) and papa (Freedom) eagle are raising one eaglet (Kindness) at Glacier Gardeens park in Juneau, Alaska. It’s a fascinating process, these apex predators alternately hunting prey with razor-sharp precision then gently feeding their spoils to the young one, tearing small pieces of the kill and gently offering it to the eaglet with their beaks. It is an incredible juxtaposition of the hunt and parenting. Both parents will fiercely defend the nest, and the eaglet when the need arises.

Sometime last night, the web camera went dark. There was a power failure at the site, and the camera will need to be reset. The staff said they’ll work on it when the park opens today, but right now it’s not quite 5 a.m. there, so the cam watchers are going into withdrawal. Ah, well. First world problems.

I wonder when humans lost the singleness of purpose to propagate the species. Perhaps it was when there were other choices for survival, other than our own skills. When it became less and less necessary to be entirely self reliant, when communal activity began to allow sharing of resources. When parents were away from the nest for the greater part of the day, working at jobs that removed them from active participation in the raising of young. Who knows.

I am also watching an osprey nest, and there are three chicks who are nearly ready to fledge. There is sibling rivalry, and dominance challenges. One chick, possibly the first to hatch, is more or less a bully. That’s the one who gets first crack at food brought into the nest, and hoards it until they are satisfied. Such dynamics seem to be very typical of multiple hatchling broods, and they just deal with it. To my knowledge, there are no avian mental health professionals, and it appears to be a strategic method of species propagation – the strongest will survive, and there will be a viable offspring that will survive to carry on the species.

Nature is simultaneously brutal and gentle, fierce and tender. I suppose humans possess the same polarized diametric, but we seem to have far more choice about it. We can also be thrown off the path with outside influences, such as addiction. Interruption to the breeding paradigm seem to be introduced by chemical aberration, either naturally occurring or artificially introduced.

There are no instructional manuals for any organism, but there are certain instincts and characteristics that are common to breeds and even molecular life forms. I’m always fascinated with the aberrations, however. The small percentage of life forms that do not follow the common trend, the one albino that emerges from several generations of highly pigmented offspring. The one puppy in a litter that displays aberrant personality traits from the rest of the brood. There are exceptions to every rule.

In general, rules are problematic simply because they do not account for aberrations. But rules generally allow us to feel more in control of things we do not understand. If we can predict outcomes, it’s far more comfortable than being surprised by results that could go either way. I believe this is truly a root cause of racism, the need to feel that outcomes are predictable based on schema that we construct. Electricity is technically a theory, but we are quite comfortable in the expectation that light will be produced when a switch is flipped (providing of course other human-made contrivances are in working order, including transmission facilities and bill payment).

We have constructed a scheme to explain differences between the races that amounts to a self-fulfilling prophecy. The entire delineation of human life forms based on the aspect of non-white skin is very nearly absurd, but we have based our entire societal construct on this. We then assigned value judgements based on that scheme – those with less melanin are more intelligent, more virtuous, closer to God. Those with higher melanin content are far less virtuous, far less intelligent, closer to Satan. Very interesting, but stupid. There are always exceptions.

When you’re an exception to some generally accepted norm, or rule, it’s a lonely place to be as a human. One of the most common examples is that of left-handed writers, who live in a right-handed world. Everything is made assuming right-handed operation – guitars, school desks, spiral notebooks. In fairly recent times, left-hand specific alternatives are made for many things, but in some cases they are more expensive options and they are often in short supply. We have the means to produce left-hand specific goods and materials, but those are generally seen as economically impractical since the demand will be less. Money itself is neither right-handed nor left-handed, but we have assigned a value to its derivatives.

Activism generally arises from minority populations because resource allotments favor the majority population. That’s fine when it comes to t-shirt sizes or guitars, both of which are voluntary acquisitions. When it comes to food, water, and shelter we’re in another world. In some cases, a left-hand dominant person can adapt and become ambidextrous, or modify their seated orientation to accommodate their dominant dexterity. A human without food resources cannot adapt to a status that requires less food, or no food at all. Without food, any human – of any height, color, or intellectual capability – will die.

Allowing human beings to struggle for survival without adequate food is, at best, immoral when there are enough food resources to alleviate hunger. Insisting that production of food is made possible only by capital expenditure is absurd. In times of food chain interruptions, namely labor shortage, farmers have been known to allow crops to rot in the fields rather than allow harvest by anyone able to do so. There is resistance to not being paid for the crop, so it is better to let it be wasted. While I understand it’s often not quite as simple as opening harvest to the general public, there are ways to implement public harvest but there’s more resistance than not.

So, here we are, literally in the fruited plain, only to find that we have interrupted the natural order of things in favor of our own “supply chains”. We’ve attempted to wrestle the natural supply chai out of Mother Nature’s hands and shape it into the shape of capitalism. We can grow things, in enormous quantities, but it’s available only if you can pay for it. How cruel is it for starving people to walk past shelves full of produce, meat, fish, and poultry and be forced to await a handout from a site miles away?

It’s mystifying how we exist with an expectation that a hungry person will not eventually steal, or beg, or filch enough food to survive by any means. After natural disasters, there were arbitrary valuations based on race that seemed almost comical – people of color were looting and stealing from abandoned grocery stores, but people of dominant culture were searching for food. For their families.

Every time a person of color was filmed stealing a large-screen television from a closed electronics store, that image was reproduced thousands of times a day and made to represent the behavior of ALL people of color. Only dominant culture is allowed to maintain individuality, while individual people of color represent the entire identity niche. That’s not natural occurrence, that’s a human construct that maintains value judgements that have persisted for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

We have a poorly constructed system. Because it works for the dominant culture, and small sub-groups of the marginalized body, it is maintained. We are in so deep we don’t know how to get out without pain. We don’t know what a world without supremacy and social caste will look like, so we feel safer clinging to status quo. The devil you know is better than the one you don’t, and we can’t conceive of a life without any devil. We have lost the ability to imagine a better way, one without demonic interference.

If we cannot imagine, we cannot dream. If we cannot dream, we cannot build. And if we cannot build, we are destined to continue living in this hodge podge and ramshackle hovel that exists in spite of itself. Every day is a struggle to coax the flimsy structure out of certain collapse, but we manage to pull things together time after time. The effort, however, is so taxing that we can enjoy none of the benefits of that which we’ve fought to maintain. It is essentially a futile effort, but we have no other solution. We’ve been wide awake far too long, eyes wide shut.

It’s a nightmare, and we have no way to awaken. We’re sleeping without resting, and without rest we’re bound to fail. There’s only so long an insomniac is able to function without standing down. We’re waiting for the onslaught, but it has already come. We’re in it. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for, and we’re our own worst enemy.

Until someone calls a cease fire, the dead will keep coming, the living will keep dying, and the cycle will keep repeating. Some days I wonder if there won’t be an intervention from some extraterrestrial entity, or some super-consciousness, that says … you’re done. This is futile, and you’re o the verge of destroying something that affects things you cannot comprehend. Some days I think such an unbelievable intervention may be our only hope.

Perhaps that flight of fancy signifies that I have lost faith in my fellow humans, in the so-called leaders of our collective reality. That may be very true. Daily our understanding of the machinery proves to be a falsehood, or a misunderstanding. Daily we discover more falsehoods that have been purposely handed to us. There are simply too many lies for me to have trust in just about anyone who tells me to trust them.

Truth telling is a lonely endeavor. Being an exception to standardization is a solitary existence. I am living there now, and I don’t consider myself some modern day prophet by any means. What I see of this world, though, doesn’t match what most people see. I am frequently in the position of providing memory, institutional or otherwise, for those who have forgotten. I ask uncomfortable questions, I recall uncomfortable facts. When people ask how we got here, I tell them, and they usually don’t like it.

There is no other way for me to be, there is no other me to be. I am who I am, and that’s not going to change. I can definitely grow and improve, but some days I would really like a break. I feel what many people feel, and it is not so much a burden as it is an unscratchable itch, a vague fluttering in my chest, a niggling pain in my temples. It’s being on the edge of something I can’t explain, of having the right answer but not being able to show how it came to be. I function more by intuition and right feeling than by intellect or stategy. Being misunderstood, or not understood at all, is a desolate wasteland.

But here I am, and here is right where I am supposed to be. I don’t need to know why, it seems, so I may as well stop asking that question. Perhaps the more productive question is why not. Why this? Why NOT this?

Today was a shitty day. It was hot. Nuclear fusion hot, with unbelievably high humidity that made everything feel like a heavy, soggy washcloth laying on top of you. I went to the chiropractor, and that went well. I left there, and decided to get a sno-ball from my new favorite place. On the way there, the air conditioner in my truck stopped working. The fan is working, but not the compressor, so I got a face full of warm air the entire way there. After procuring the icy treat, I got back in the hot truck and set out for home, which is less than 4 miles away. By the time I’d made the first turn, the entire cup of sno-ball landed on the floor of the truck, in a mushy heap or sticky dreamsickle flavoring.

Driving toward home, in an overheated and deflated heap of soggy sweatpants, I thought I should do something productive other than cuss and slam my fists into the steering wheel. I decided to be proactive and stopped off at Firestone to tell them about the oil leak and now the air conditioner, and make an appointment for bringing the old war wagon in for a diagnosis, and hopefully repair. They can’t take it until Saturday, which is not what I wanted to hear. But so be it. I told them that at this point, the air conditioner was the most important thing. They looked at me as though I had grown a second head. As if I cared. I will drop the land barge off Friday night so that it will be waiting for them on Saturday morning at 7 a.m. When I get back to the apartment, I will begin looking up bankruptcy attorneys because these repairs ought to just about clean me out of house and home.

Mama said there would be days like this, but damn. Did this one have to take my sno-ball before I could even consume it? That’s just cruel.

Stripped of all the unnecessary detritus…there is only me.

Published by annzimmerman

I am Louisiana born and bred, now living in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Fortunately for me, I was already living in NC before Hurricane Katrina decimated my beloved New Orleans. An only child, I now feel that I have no personal history since the hurricane destroyed the relics and artifacts of my childhood. As I have always heard, c'est la vie. My Louisiana roots show in my love of good coffee, good food, and good music. My soggy native soil has also shown me that resilience is hard-wired in my consciousness; when the chips are down (or drowned)...bring it on.

2 thoughts on “Poor construction

  1. You hit so many points I agree with.
    In the end we live in a constructed ‘world’ in a world. We made it ourselves and have to change it ourselves, and there’s the rub. It happens with all of us that we think the government needs to change things; whether we’re activists standing outside Downing street or citizens who don’t want to do anything, thinking it’s someone else’s responsibility.
    Even if we change the leaders ( Obama was an example ) it’s like building a turning on a road – everyone’s so used to going straight on & ‘know’ it’s the right route, so they keep going that way until the dirt track is once again a road and the road is overgrown and forgotten. We’ve made a world where easy, unthinking and un-acting are the options everyone wants and we all but forget that we need to change it ourselves.

    I’m not talking more people protesting or bigger acts of protest because that’s just demanding a new road. It’s far harder to get people to think and a far more personal thing but that’s the only way people learn to take the new road.. And anyone with power will chase after it if it’s going away ( I don’t think the electric car company would have flourished otherwise ).

    Anyway, I know. I’m telling someone living it what I think life is, which is stupid. Maybe I’m wrong but I feel so strong I have to say it. I don’t live pain or hardship but I do know about how easy it is to live with ‘do I really have to bother’, or ‘the PM should do something’. It takes a lot of stuff inside to get to, ‘what should I do’ when everything is easy, and that’s something which needs to change.

    Here we’re more disabled friendly now. Which means that ramps are fitted in some places and lifts are added. It’s not perfect for those in wheelchairs but it’s absolutely of no use to the blind etc.. It’s a case of people wanting something done but it’s done without anyone thinking or waking up – it’s piecemeal and makes people think problem solved rather than solving the problem.

    I hope you have a better rest of the week and find something to make you smile, give you strength.


    1. Thanks so much for your comments on this. I resonated with “We’ve made a world where easy, unthinking and un-acting are the options everyone wants and we all but forget that we need to change it ourselves.”. Our memories are sometimes very short, although we can recapitulate who stole our lollipops on the playground at 3-years old. Sometimes I wonder if it’s just laziness, or the feeling of overwhelm – as though was do not believe we CAN make the necessary changes. At this moment, I’m believing that imagination and creativity are needed in high order…if we can’t dream the new world, we’ll never be able to create it. We have to be able to see something that’s never existed before and makes no use of the existing order. At least that’s where I’m leaning today…that could be entirely different on another day, but for today, that’s where I’m headed. Tomorrow, I’m headed to the repair shop to see if they can fix the air conditioner in my truck, which is of the highest priority. I do not do well in the heat – yesterday I felt like crud and my brain was mush after only a short time in the heat without the air conditioning. I hope it just needs a recharge and not a replacement unit, but at this point, I’ll probably have to bite the bullet if it comes to that. Global warming be damned, but I’m grateful our temperatures haveb’t broken 100 yet.

      I hope you have a great week yourself, and thanks again for the comments and good wishes!


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