Most of the people I knew in China had known hunger. It was such a close reality for China for all of its history that the friendly greeting wasn’t “Ni Hao?” (You good?) it was “Have you eaten?” Even in 1982 when things had improved since both the famine the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, meat was used as a spice far more often than as the central part of a meal.
The other day, driving down the highway toward my friend’s house, I saw two very tattered, very ragged, very dirty, homeless people walking along the road. Neither looked sad, so there’s that. I think often of the close call of 2020. If I had still be in California and working, I might very well have ended up homeless. It’s hard to say. I could have decided to sell the house (and prices were good) and come here, just like I did in 2014, but maybe I wouldn’t have had that chance. I don’t know. Maybe because I taught so many online classes I would have sheltered behind my laptop during the worst of the year. That Wheel of Fortune again.
We’re comparatively lucky in this country, or have been for quite a while now. We’re kind of weird and entitled. I think that’s a problem. We don’t have a “right” to half the stuff we claim to have a right to and we don’t have — some of us don’t have — respect for those things we all have a right to. Life. Even the avocet mom and dad yesterday in front of my car were fighting for that right for themselves and their chicks. I don’t know if I killed any of the chicks, and I am afraid I might have.
That whole event has made me consider my place in THAT place and awakened me to an obliviousness I was, uh, oblivious to. Somehow, in my mind, it had become a place that existed FOR me. Humans do that all the time. It is not there for me. I’m a trespasser.
He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
William Butler Yeats