Life Force

The mariner was standing on a street corner the other day when a woman with a little furry thing in her arm (It couldn’t have been a wolf, maybe one of those toys that cries and wets itself. He saw one like it tucked into the abundant cleavage of a movie star. It looked like it belonged there – sort of like a soul patch but lower). The woman had a very large pocketbook hanging off her other arm, perhaps a distraction because the strap implied that it belonged on her shoulder. The woman had unkempt hair (do not judge her for that; my wife often says that it is a hair style and not “unkempt”) She wore black one size fits all pants, and a Detroit Lions sweatshirt under a light blue jacket.

The woman had two daughters along with her and was lecturing them. The littlest girl looked to be about five and the taller one looked to be about nine. They were dressed almost identically: red sneakers, jeans, each had a different t-shirt; both wore school jackets. The nine year old stared ahead indifferently while slowly chewing gum, hands in her jacket pockets. The little one had her head turned to look over her shoulder at something that caught her attention.

The mariner watched as the three continued down the block. The woman never stopped lecturing; the little one never stopped looking across the street and the tall one still chewed, hands in pockets.

Martin Wolf says the entire world is headed for a global financial crisis. The Indians clamor to remove the name “Redskins” from the football team. Every day there is a shooting somewhere that occupies air time on the tv news (The mariner often wonders if the news journalists station themselves in places where shootings may occur – sort of like hunting and waiting for deer to come down the path). ISIL seems a looming threat to the US – at least according to military analysts, military advisers, and military contract lobbyists. 2014 is the warmest year on record and 2015 will be even warmer. Is there enough water in the Ogallala aquifer to grow grain?

The three went into a small restaurant featuring Mexican cuisine.

The mariner wondered what the mother had to say for such a long time. It probably didn’t matter; the girls weren’t listening. There seemed to be some disarray in their lives. Apparently the girls had adopted ways to normalize their lives and the mother must carry burden in her life. It is odd how life can encase one’s existence completely, creating a reality only visible to those encased – like the woman and the daughters. They have a life that no one else lives.

As do you and the mariner. We are encased in our separate lives – unique to ourselves.

Turkey stands by while innocent people are being killed less than a mile away. Russia annexed Crimea and intends to make Ukraine Russian-dependent. Ebola kills 4,600 in Africa.

The mariner walks back home, just a few blocks. The grass on the lawns is still green and neatly clipped. That’s a trademark in this town. A man is washing his car in the driveway. In another block, three men are cutting down an old tree. As the mariner walks up his driveway, a red squirrel twenty feet away watches with a cautious stare.

Life envelopes everyone. It seems a force unto itself tied somehow to history and the journey everyone takes. Yet our journeys are unique and so different. Nevertheless, each of us, living a life unknown to others, is part of the daily history of the earth.

What is the life that envelopes an ISIS fighter? A US Senator? Bill Gates? A barefooted starving child in Africa? A software engineer at Monsanto? A prison guard? Your neighbor? Your child? We share this singular phenomenon called “life.” Yet each of us lives it alone.

Ancient Mariner


2 thoughts on “Life Force

  1. This makes me think of that quote, “Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” (I did a google search for who said it and there seems to be some dispute.)

    It also makes me think about apartment life, which I really like because of the tiny glimpses you get of your neighbors. I couldn’t pick them out of a lineup, but I know when they drop things or take showers or receive boxes in the mail. And they know those things about me, too. It’s nice to collect those little details, and to be part of a bigger collection that is not just mine.

  2. It’s an odd experience to be responsible for a single responsibility to create history and be part of it at the same time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.