the way things are meant to be?

Nature Landscape Outdoors Summer meant to be
Ben_Frieden / Pixabay

I thought it would be great to restart a blog during the six hours that the “leap days” on the Western and Baha’i calendars overlap. Ayyam-i-ha on the Baha’i calendar refers to days that don’t belong to any of the other nineteen months (of nineteen days each)–they are extra days (four most years, five this year) that round out to a solar year. But this post is really not about calendars. This is about asking how things are meant to be.

This is a poem I wrote in 1990.  Here it is in its entirety:

laughing sprites

at the camp-out in the county fairgrounds
was the laughter emanating from the trees
or from us?

we don’t know, but that evening my friend Jordan and I went to
a large campfire where their was dancing
and like crazed agent provacateurs in love with pyrotechnics
we instigated a group hug
just walked in there expecting it would happen

Jordan instigated the first one
where people nodded “sure” and moved together into a circle
but it was just arms around the shoulders
and sheepish grins
so I stepped out into the center and yelled in a raspy voice
“That’s not a real hug!  Let’s do a real hug!”
and this time, everybody squeezed together
pushing, pushing
until we became one big giant heartbeat

and then someone talked about a bigger bonfire further down
and so the heart muscle contracted and
we all ran in a chain
hands clasped together
sometimes kind of dragging each other
a roller-coaster ride
where the cars swing back and forth wildly
where you feel like you are going to fall
but then you realize you’re floating

like a sudden westerly gale we swept into the other group
someone else yelled, “Group hug!  Group hug!”
and again we pile together squeezing like a big rubber ball
and then bounce back
and then broke out dancing,
and then squeezing like a big rubber ball again
and sometimes we’d just pile on top of each other.
all I had to do was reach out, and a hand would be nearby for me
if I fell backwards, one hundred hands would be ready to catch me
and I realized that this was where I needed to be
and this was how we were meant to live

was the laughter emanating from the trees
or from us?
we didn’t know that evening
and the trees will remain forever silent about it.

(October 1990)

This poem was written based on a real event, and the descriptions of what I and my friend Jordan did were accurate.  This was a nationwide conference of seven thousand student environmental activists held on the campus of the University of Illinois–my alma mater–but I had already graduated the year before, and was there to give a workshop talking about the Global Walk for a Livable World which was in the midst of wrapping up its final month.  I’d taken what was essentially a four day break from the Walk to attend the conference.  The Walk itself was extraordinary, with many experiences parallel to this magical moment in Urbana.

More than twenty years after the fact, can I look back on this event and say that was how things were meant to be?  My answer is no, and then yes.  What I mean by that I will talk about in subsequent posts in this blog.  It’s a big part of what this blog is about.

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