Reading Stitches Books, Poetry, Things I Wish I Knew For Sure, and not all that much about Knitting
Aug 3, 2010
I’ve been reading Eye of the Albatross, by Carl Safina, for book group - an amazing, beautifully written book. The birds are spectacular and gentle and brilliant. But, I am devastated by the cruelty, and the disregard our human “civilization” has had, and continues to have, for the lives of these creatures, and our oceans. I find it very difficult to continue reading. His writing is beautiful prose with gorgeous and loving descriptions, full of scientific and deeply researched information.
I think I don’t have the emotional fortitude to continue; but then it occurs to me that integrity is somehow very tied to fortitude, and I wonder if my lack of fortitude is related to some lack of integrity.
(Is fortitude always related to integrity, in any case or context? Is a strong character, for instance, always based on, or composed of, or generated by, a character of integrity? Or, put the other way, is weakness tied to an uncertain lack of integrity?)
I guess I wonder if, by “protecting” my emotional frailty (in any context, really), I am also surrendering my moral obligation to the Earth and her creatures (or to any challenge before me). Can I afford, in terms of my integrity, to NOT know the acute damage we humans continue to perpetuate? So, I fight the tiny itchy feeling of shame for not wanting to read the details, in order to not suffer more than I have to.
I know I would say, if someone were to ask, that we need to survive our lives to the best of our ability, that we each have our limits as far as what we can deal with, or live with, and we have to accept those limitations in order to survive, and not crumble. It’s about an obligation to live a balanced life, emotionally speaking, to make our society a more balanced and safer “place”.
But, if we know that pushing the boundaries of our limitations can also enlighten us, so that we can do more for our world, do we have an obligation to push those boundaries? It’s like being on the edge of awareness, but refusing to take that last leap for fear of failure or the unknown. I am afraid of the emotional pain. (Don't we avoid going through too much mental anguish for fear of losing emotional control? Aren't we afraid of losing our minds, from pain?) Yet, I have already read how one albatross, trying to regurgitate for her hungry chick, couldn’t pull up the last thing inside her because it was a toothbrush she had swallowed somewhere in the ocean. The pain is already there… why do I want to turn away if I already know the horror?
I think about the scientists in the book, and their precious work, and know that I “could be” there with them, if I had the right training and circumstances, a different life lived, obviously; but, I ask myself, would I require a different character? Would my emotional fortitude be nurtured from a whole different level of integrity? I wonder if their integrity is boosted by their courage and strength, or is it the other way around? From this perspective, all I can do, for now, is try to see their individual work as a balancing act of light and dark. And ask myself if I could do the same, on my small level, by informing myself of their work.