Posting Challenge #16 has been haunting me. Not just because it is a life question that has been pondered by some of the greatest minds of all time (think Buddha, Confusicius, Voltaire, Locke, Jesus, MLK, Gandhi, HST, Shiva… the list goes on), but because really I think it might be the key to finding peace, or at least peace of mind, in a mad, mad world.

“What keeps you going when extremely unpleasant things happen, or to be blunt when the shit hits the fan? What or whom pulls you out of your blues / insanity?”

I have just read Kurt Vonnegut’s short, concise and wonderful A Man Without A Country [please read this book], and I think he might have some sound suggestions for what we should do, because let’s be frank, the shit has hit the fan, no sense sitting around waiting to see if this is really it. HST told us long ago we were doomed, and it looks like he may have been correct. But what Hunter gave us was a warning, a heads up if you will. And he reminded us that it was all our own doing. We are the only species that intentionally and aggressively destroys our own home and our own kind. What the hell is that about?! And we are supposed to be the most ‘intelligent’ life form? I shudder at the thought.

But perhaps there are things we can do.

Still.

Now.

This minute.

Vonnegut says:

  • Tell the truth ~ “You know, the truth can be really powerful stuff. You’re not expecting it.”
  • Be creative ~ “Practicing and art, no matter how well or how badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tel stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”
  • Be not alone ~ “And I would really, over the long run, hope America would find some way to provide all of our citizens with extended families – a large group of people they could call on for help.”
  • Embrace humanism and wisdom ~ “If there’s anything they hate, it’s a wise human. So be one anyway. Save our lives and your lives, too. Be honorable.
  • Remember Eugene Debs ~ ‘As long as there is a lower class, I am in it. As long as there is a criminal element, I’m of it. As long as there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”
  • Read ~ “Our daily news sources, newspapers and TV, are now so craven, so unvigilant on behalf of the American people, so uninformative, that only in books do we learn what is really going on.”
  • Be decent ~ “By saints I meant people who behaved decently in a strikingly indecent society.”
  • Pay attention ~ “I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.'”

So, what do we do when the shit hits the fan? Our everyday experience is the answer to this question. We are living in the shitstorm, and Lily Tomlin was right when she said it’s going to get a whole lot worse before it gets worse. But still everyday we have the choice to remember that we matter, and everything matters, and we can right the course of our swiflty tilting planet.

Few of these words are mine, so I suppose the truth is, when the shit really gets in my eyes as it constatly flies off the fan I turn to those who have had the forsight and the kindness to beautifully encourage us, and remind us, that there is no sense in giving up, not at this point anyhow.

Picture a bright blue ball just spinning, spinning free
Dizzy with eternity.
Paint it with a skin of sky, brush in some clouds and sea
Call it home for you and me.

A peaceful place or so it looks from space
A closer look reveals the human race.
Full of hope, full of grace, is the human face.
But afraid, we may our home to waste.
Theres a fear down here we can’t forget, hasn’t got a name just yet.
Always awake, always around, singing ashes to ashes, all fall down.

Now watch as the ball revolves and the nighttime calls
And again the hunt begins and again the bloodwind calls
By and by again, the morning sun will rise,
But the darkness never goes from some men’s eyes.

It strolls the sidewalks and it rolls the streets
Stalking turf, dividing up meat.
Nightmare spook, piece of heat, you and me, you and me.
Click, flashblade in ghetto night.
Rudies looking for a fight.
Rat cat alley roll them bones.
Need that cash to feed that jones
And the politicians throwing stones
Singing ashes, ashes all fall down.
Commissars and pin-striped bosses role the dice
Any way they fall, guess who gets to pay the price?
Money green or proletarian gray, selling guns instead of food today.

So the kids they dance, they shake their bones
While the politicians throwing stones
Singing ashes, ashes all fall down.

Heartless powers try to tell us what to think
If the spirits sleeping, then the flesh is ink.
History’s page, it is thusly carved in stone
The future’s here, we are it, we are on our own.
If the game is lost then were all the same
No one left to place or take the blame.

We will leave this place an empty stone
Or this shinning ball of blue we can call our home.

So the kids they dance, they shake their bones
While the politicians are throwing stones
Singing ashes, ashes all fall down.
Shipping powders back and forth
Singing black goes south while white comes north
And the whole world full of petty wars
Singing I got mine and you got yours.
And the current fashions set the pace.
Lose your step, fall out of grace.
And the radical, he rant and rage! Singing someone got to turn the page!
And the rich man in his summer home,
Singing just leave well enough alone
But his pants are down, his cover’s blown
And the politicians are throwing stones

So the kids they dance they shake their bones
‘Cause its all too clear were on our own.

Picture a bright blue ball just spinning, spinning free
Its dizzying, the possibilities. ashes, ashes all fall down. (Weir/Hunter)

Amanda, in Hong Kong, remembering that when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.

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