Why Not?


I’ve been thinking a lot about sense the past few months. Like, does the world make sense? Does one thing actually lead to the next, a set of stairs that can only wind up in one place? Or are events thrown down all topsy-turvey like pick-up sticks, then precariously balanced and no one knows when the whole mess will fall again. Only that it will.

This post isn’t going to end up in the book. I wrote it when I was profiling a Japanese surgeon who started working at St. Clare’s near the beginning of World War 2, his parents still in California, interred in a camp in the Utah desert. He used to carry a gun to work under his lab coat, and was touted in the press as, “the only man who can stitch a wound, smoke a cigar, and play gin rummy all at the same time.” But I took his section out of the final cut; all that was left was this post. It didn’t make sense anymore.


 I went to a field recording workshop in the Sierra Nevada this past June where they taught us to stalk birds. One thing they said is that birds can actually see sound. I wonder what the bluebirds saw when we were in the Yuba Pass gathered around a thermos, having our coffee. Some sort of web that none of us knew existed, connecting us all? There's no way to know. The day that I got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis I was walking home from the doctor and saw so many people with canes. They must have always been there. It was me who was different, noticing what could be my future for the first time. 

1969 Eighth grade. Civics class./Two summers have come and gone since the Summer of Love. I don't smoke pot yet./But I'm learning many facts that I was unaware of as a child.

When I was in elementary school, all the kids looked at the map and noticed the continents fit together, like a puzzle. But they weren't teaching this yet, so I was told this was just a coincidence. One that, as it turned out, people had been proposing as fact for almost a hundred years. But no one believed it. Because, how could giant land-masses float?

My teacher, Mr. Coash, informs us that/ in 1963, we had a clandestine coup in the United States./Kennedy was shot because he wouldn't play ball/Our country is now run by something called the Trilateral Commission/and they consider the president to be the head towel-boy.

I asked my Dad once, "How could people let the death-camps happen?" He said, "You don't understand. At that time, it was unthinkable. Germany was the most civilized nation in the world, the country that gave us Beethoven and Bach . . ."

In addition, the Germans weren't the only ones who built camps./We imprisoned a hundred-thousand Japanese-Americans during World War Two./Why have I never heard of this?/My head is so full of thirteen-year-old outrage/it almost pops. But then the semester ends./A new class, a new teacher/and it's back to the glories of Columbus and the horrors of Communism.

I want to be a visionary, but I don't think I am. My mind automatically goes to the possibles that have already happened. Calculating the odds. It's life as I know it. But what I know keeps changing. Slime mold can steer a mechanical conveyance away from the light. There's a hive intelligence human beings can't understand. Senses I don't have. The dirt is full of microbes. Is it alive? Maybe the magic old world was more accurate; where rocks felt malice, and trees watched the doings of women and men with disdain.