We have a cousin who lives in Pakistan and was awakened early today by the sound of her neighbor’s sacrificial goat crying. I was scrolling Facebook late last night when I encountered her concise and poetic description of the creature wailing. My insomnia, iPhone and the internet had conspired again–broadening my horizons for better or worse.
Our cousin wrote that the goat seemed aware that today was the day he would be killed. (Or was it a she? I can’t find an answer online about what gender the sacrifice should be.) I mean no disrespect to Muslims or the celebration of Eid-ul-Azha. The butchering of animals impacts all of our lives (even those who choose not to eat or wear animals suffer the impact factory farming has on the planet). In fact, I succumbed to my craving for cow again yesterday. So I can’t judge anyone celebrating with fresh goat this weekend. It’s just that in the U.S. the majority of us are sheltered from reality. If we lived with our turkeys in the weeks before Thanksgiving, the holiday might transform. Maybe. I don’t know.
What I do know is that our cousin in Pakistan was sad (how utterly painful to hear a defenseless being crying and to feel helpless); and I was sad. And with cows in my belly (a cheeseburger is never just one cow), I was guilty.
So I closed Facebook and turned to Pinterest.
Pinterest, it’s the Sound of Music hit come alive:
When the dog bites–or isn’t a dog, but a goat, and doesn’t bite anyone, but is going to be put down anyway–!
When the bee stings–or is actually dead on the ground because they are inexplicably going extinct and now we’re all probably going to starve without them–!
When I’m feeling sad! I simply remember . . .
I had a therapist once who prescribed denial. That wasn’t all; she prescribed yoga, wok-steamed vegetables, volunteer work, meditation, and sex, too. Dr. B: best therapist ever. Denial as a prescription stands out most in my memory because it was so unexpected and refreshing.
It was also necessary.
The morning Dr. B brought it up I had just heard about the brutal murder of James Byrd, Jr. I came in to her office sobbing and could not stop. Even now it makes me cry. What a horrific, horrific murder. I don’t remember much about my talk with Dr. B. that day–it was nearly twenty years ago–but my takeaway was that in order to endure (to maintain strength for good works) we must compartmentalize.
Basically, I think she was calling upon the wisdom in Ecclesiastes, also Turn! Turn! Turn! by Pete Seeger, made famous by The (wow, synchronicity) Byrds. Lovely old pop tune, but a bit glib for my taste.
I prefer Public Enemy’s He Got Game, which came out the spring before Mr. Byrd’s death. He Got Game talks about the wretchedness of humanity coexisting with love and meaning. It’s anthemic and ends with several calls to action, the last of which are from Flavor Flav:
Wake up and take control of your own cipher
And be on the look out for the spirits tonight trying to steal your light,
You know what I’m saying?
Look withinside yourself for peace, give thanks, live life, and release,
You dig me?
You got me?
Pinterest helps me follow the “give thanks” and “life life” part of the mandate.
I can imagine my mom saying again, “I don’t understand what Pinterest is.” It’s like a scrapbook you can share with the world, and they share theirs with you. Or like a magazine edited by you, especially for yourself.
For some people, this means recipes and diet tips, home improvement projects and cosmetic tutorials. Not me. Pinterest does feed my vision for the life I want to live, the person I want to become, but that life doesn’t involve crockpot revelations, and that person isn’t in search of smoky eyes (no offense to you gorgeous lamb stew-serving beauties). Like much of the web, at Pinterest, one customizes her own surroundings. So most of my time there is spent perusing my friends’ and contacts’ boards collecting images that give me joy.
Lately though, I’ve spent time reviewing the pictures I’ve amassed over the years. I love gazing at my own boards. They are not accomplishments. I don’t liken their existence to actual deeds. Rather, they are my own personal stockpiles of raindrops on roses. They soothe me back to sleep when late night surfing has circled to the knowing cries of goats.
There’s so much horror one click away. It’s daunting to fathom that for many people the horror is not just on a screen, it’s real. It’s frightening to acknowledge that each of our lives will include suffering.
But I don’t wish to be lulled into a waking sleep, to turn away from hardship, to pretend tragedy doesn’t exist. My intention is to take care of this body and mind, to engage in denial briefly, for pockets of rest. I want to gain ideas and inspiration and energy for the time to plant. I want to dance and heal and laugh. Because the beauty and the sweetness, the cute animals and those places on my “Go!” board at Pinterest–those things are real, too.
How do you use Pinterest?