Trembling on a Tipsy Tightrope.

When Court Decisions Make Me Lose More Marbles.
As if I had any to spare….

Red sign reads "DANGER AHEAD"

In the midst of doing a million things and nothing at all, my phone chimes. I drop everything and nothing to check it. Of course. My phone is my mistress.

I smile when I read, “Hello Darlink.” It’s a text from my friend, Joie. “We haven’t spoken since the Supreme Court’s decision limiting the EPA’s regulation of carbon emissions from power plants. 🤬 I just hope you’re breathing and functional. If you’re on the floor hopefully you’re relaxing. More art.”

Smile fades. “I am completely undone,” I text back. “But I expected nothing less,” I add with the practiced stoicism that keeps me upright these days. I do appreciate her checking in with me. I’d be worried, too, if I were my friend.

As the Supreme Court assails all that I hold dear, I feel I’m walking a tipsy tightrope, the grip on my balancing pole white-knuckled and my legs shaking like a 20-cup a day coffee addict. On the one side of me lies total collapse, the fiery pit where I’d land if I allowed myself to feel the full horror of a climate that trends too hot, of melting of permafrost releasing untold greenhouse gases, of the warming and acidifying oceans that keeps critters from making the shells they need to survive…and to keep absorbing our excess CO2.

Legitimate climate scientists may disagree about the timing of when our climate will be too hot to support our kind—but not about whether it’s going to happen. Not, that is, if we change nothing. Will it occur in the lifetimes of my children or grandchildren? Let’s just cross our fingers and hope not! Since we can’t tell companies to stop burning coal, we just hope for the best.

Because on the other side of my tightrope lies the zoned-out numbness that keeps me from feeling anything at all—not even the joy of my daughter’s hug or the delight of a hummingbird buzzing by me. Avoid the horror, the pain, the depression inspired by our seeming refusal to pick up the tools to save ourselves. Turn on Ted Lasso and escape the world. Pass the Ambien, please.

But none of that soothes me when I wake up screaming in the night.

Stopping the gushing river of terror-filled thoughts is not easy for this overactive Gemini mind of mine. It does not like to take time off, its vast stash of unused PTO languishes in a dark closet full of spiderwebs. Which could be any closet in my spider-friendly (aka too lazy to clean) home.

So I do what I can. I’ve upped my meditation practice to a regularity I normally reserve for opening the refrigerator to get cheese. I slog myself to the gym with far less bribery than I used to require (i.e., that Wetzel’s pretzel which totally defeated the purpose). I make a point to read some “feel good” news from Yes! Magazine or check in with the cute bears on the National Park Service Twitter account.

But how does any of that help? Does it keep permafrost from melting and thereby releasing billions of tons of greenhouse gases? Does it stop companies firing up their coal-fired plants? Does it keep any of us from hopping into our gas-guzzling, emission-spewing vehicles?

Does any of that stop permafrost from melting or from countries firing up their coal plants?

No. It does not.

It does, however, get me through another day without mad-shrieking at random people on the street. I used to give a wide berth to the self-appointed public pontificators. Now, I feel a sense of camaraderie. Here are my people.

If only there was a government entity charged with protecting our natural environment. Yes, sure, Congress established the Environmental Protection Agency some 52 years ago, on the insistence of that Republican President Nixon. But apparently charging an agency with “establishing and enforcing environmental protection standards consistent with national environmental goals” wasn’t sufficiently clear enough to enable said agency to respond to an environmental crisis of such epic proportions.

Too bad. Some forty per cent of Americans live in counties already impacted by climate change, but don’t look to the EPA to do anything that.

Not that I’m bitter.

No, wait a minute. I am so effing bitter that my saliva tastes of lemon vinegar. Even my pacifist self has rolled up her sleeves and wants to slug somebody. Perhaps somebody who wears a black robe to work.

Okay, I take that back. I’m not one to incite violence. And I do pray to learn how to communicate with people whose seeming heartlessness infuriates me. Because if we don’t learn how to talk with each other about the crippling issues of the day?

**Alarm bell rings**

It’s time for my Art Therapy. I’ll let you decide how to answer that question.

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  © Cheryl Leutjen