My day began before the day began, jolted from sleep by that dreaded sound of a dog barfing – no, no not on the bed – oops, too late. Off come all the covers, right down to the mattress pad, and as the washing machine chugged, we set out walking to greet the dawn.
As the mountains pinked and the sky blued, I thought of the mindfulness meditation class I'm taking, and how the instructor said the mind is always wandering, and studies have shown that these mental meanderings make us unhappy at least 50 percent of the time.
I like to think my joy quotient is a little bit higher than that, but maybe I'm just fooling myself. The mind has a way of doing that, you know.
He'd also said that of the 5,400 species of mammals, only humans have the ability to project our thoughts onto the past and future – though I'm not so sure that can be stated unequivocally, because who has studied all the mammalian minds? — and while that allows us to invent and create, it also makes us unhappy.
So other than benefitting the bars and drug lords, and the pharmaceutical companies that are selling more anti-anxiety, anti-depressant and anti-psychotic drugs than ever, many of them to women, is that really an evolutionary advantage?
Is that the metaphorical fall from the garden, the rending that allows us to wreak havoc on each other, other life forms, believing ourselves separate and apart?
I brought my mind back to present, looking for the bird singing its little heart out – there it is, atop the telephone pole. Gladness filled my own heart.
And then I thought of an email I'd read before going to bed, the one that had as its subject line “fireplaces and puppies,” which saved it from the delete key that disappears most everything that arrives in the eastsidegrrrl inbox.
It told me about Stan and Maureen Gonsalves, the Wailua couple with the fireplace that is the subject of a bill before the County Council today, and how the publicity and negativity of Councilman Gary Hooser's over-reaching political agenda had been stressful, and given the offended/offending neighbor a broader platform upon which to air — no pun intended — her other complaints, these about the Gonsalves' dogs and pet pig, further polarizing their relationship, with no resolution in sight.
It seems the Gonsalves are retired, and of very limited means, prompting them to supplement their income by breeding Yorkies, and last Friday, while they were off-island, someone stole one of their 7-week-old puppies, but then it was returned, before they returned, economy tragedy averted.
I thought of how I'm always bummed to see purebred puppies being sold when so many mixed-breed dogs are executed daily in the shelters, but then, I've never been in such dire straits that I looked upon dogs as a source of income, rather than an ongoing expense.
And would it really help anything, or anyone, for Mr. Gonsalves to end up facing criminal charges, or a civil suit, neither of which he can afford, simply because he and his neighbor can't agree about chimney smoke?
Which made me think of an email I'd gotten from a lawyer friend, about a kanaka who has been repeatedly cited for driving without a license, a small act of civil disobedience, rebellion against the illegal overthrow — for which no white man was ever fined or jailed — that the Hawaii judicial system takes as a “no mercy” affront to its power.
The fines have racked up to the point where he can't pay them, so the taxpayers likely will foot the bill to keep him in a cage for a while, just to teach him he'd better get that piece of paper — another person imprisoned for poverty — and since he's the sole breadwinner, his family will suffer.
Which made me think of a New York Times article covering the Justice Department's report on Ferguson, where African Americans were disproportionately targeted for traffic stops, and twice as likely to be searched:
For people in Ferguson who cannot afford to pay their tickets, routine traffic stops can become years-long ordeals, with repeated imprisonments because of mounting fines. Such fines are the city’s second-largest source of revenue after sales tax.
In an unrelated but similar case, the Justice Department recently filed court documents in a lawsuit over whether the city of Clanton, Ala., is running a debtors’ prison. The lawsuit says city officials there keep poor people in jail simply because of their inability to pay fines.
And while I don't think Kauai Prosecutor Justin Kollar and KPD are running a similar kind of racket, can't we come up with a system — more community service, something along the lines of the Pohaku program, sliding-scale fines — that keeps people from going to jail simply because they're poor, or kanaka?
I brought my mind back to present, watching a streak of orange stretch across the sky, dogs nosing bushes, intent on scent, and a smile came to my lips. My heart was happy.
Then I thought of a series of comments someone had left last night, demanding solutions, answers that I don't have — who does? — for solving the myriad problems facing the planet, one small island in the plastic-choked Pacific:
Now Joan, what are the next steps to take to reduce physical, mental and spiritual toxicity on our precious island. Tell us what your vision for our grandchildren's world is. I would like to hear that.
I have no vision for the world that anyone's grandchildren will inhabit. I could not have envisioned 10 years ago the world I inhabit today. Who knows what awaits humanity 20, 30, 50 years hence, what world will be created by minds that flit between past and future, making us unhappy 50 percent of the time? I can only think it will somehow be better, because people keep having children, which seems to me the ultimate expression of hope — or madness
In the meantime, perhaps there is an answer to this question:
What about the poisoning of our mental environment with stress due to the fear of illness due to poison?
I brought my mind back to present, felt the softness of the breeze blowing against my cheeks, gave thanks for the breath flowing in, flowing out, life. A smile played on my lips, sweet joy returned to my heart.
And when I got home, I found a friend had sent me a link to this video, which in the quirky workings of serendipity, somehow seemed to fit.