Amy Winehouse: We Lost One

Amy Winehouse was found dead on Saturday in her home in Camden, North London.  I fell instantly head over heels for her brassy, blues and jazz infused voice that sang songs of pain and frustration, lust and love.  What saddens me more than the loss of this talent to the world, are the reactions from media outlets and individuals who blame Winehouse for what has happened to her (even as the autopsy report is pending).

The news of her death sparked immediate head shakes of disappointment in the artist’s “wasted promises”, finger wags and twitter tags of “I knew it,” and for a few of us, feelings of deep sadness in the loss of life, a life which blessed us with music that spoke to our souls.  Known as “the crazy Amy Winehouse” to classmates, what seems clear both from the blues in her voice and the lyrics that she wrote was that melancholia had been a part of her life for a very long time.   The numbing affects and addictive nature of drugs and alcohol were an unfortunate combination which led to her inability to keep up the unrealistic endurance required to live life under the scrutiny of millions.  They also inhibited her from getting treatment, but I never once counted her out.  I had hoped she’d make it through the fire, like Chaka Khan has.

Though I cannot imagine Winehouse’s demons, in my life I have felt lost and depressed; have lived through times where I had no home, no anchor, and was lonely.  Having felt all those things, I know that it is only a blessing that I made it out, both physically and emotionally, intact.  That is not the experience of a great many of us, some of whom numb their unbearable pain with whatever will do the trick.  I feel blessed to have come out of my experience with understanding for those who live with the kind of depression that makes their body ache on the inside and that makes it nearly impossible for them to experience joy or happiness in the way that others do; understanding for those who live with addictions which are as mental as they are physical.

Blessed to have kept my capacity to be sensitive to the loss of life and sensitive to the mistreatment of others in life and in death.

Thank god tears dry on their own

The Earth is More Powerful Than Us

A recent trip to Mexico’s Teotihuacan incited a most thought provoking question: “What will we leave behind?” from one of my blog followers. If humans were to disappear off the face of the planet tomorrow, in just a few centuries, the Earth would look as if we were never here. Our plastic would be buried beneath mountains of sediment, our cities would collapse, crumble, or be washed away.  And if their facades remained, almost nothing would remain that would identify us or places.

Watching the construction of the new luxury condos across the street from my house, I know those won’t last very long. All the wood and porous cement couldn’t possibly withstand more than 100 years in the swampy climate of Washington, D.C.  As a civilization, we tend not to build things that will last very long in the kind of time that the Earth keeps.  And even when we do have things left behind from ancient civilizations, we realize how little we can do to delay them from too disappearing back into the earth.  Everything is temporary.

In America, we aren’t generally taught to think of Earth as our home, or as our Source, as both God herself and the embodiment of all those things which sustains us. In fact, I’d argue, we don’t even think about the Earth in our day to day lives. We don’t think about it until it reveals itself to us in natural disaster or pure wonder, and then we ask God “why?”. Most of us are so far removed from day to day interaction with the Earth that we forget that it produces everything we need to cure ourselves from disease and to maintain us.  This despite the fact that beneath its surface there is chaos, as is the life that lives on it. We believe that “God supplies all our needs according to his riches and glory” but rarely stop to think about how the Earth literally is rich and glorious, able to supply all of our needs.  And despite its immense power to destroy us at any moment, it usually doesn’t.

I think about these things not to be morbid, but to meditate on the fact that our Earth is awesome and wondrous. It is no surprise that ancient civilizations and indigenous populations worshiped the Earth, that many still do. If we don’t respect the Earth and what it is capable of, it will make us sooner or later.  Like the Gods that folks worship today, the same can be said of Mother Earth herself.

For as much as we seek to contain and control it, we know the inevitable truth… the Earth is more powerful than we are. If we don’t take care of it, it will simply become inhabitable. Then we’ll leave and it will repair itself.

I’d much rather take public transit, eat more vegetables and fruits, use less laundry detergent, take shorter showers, and demand our government invest in clean solar, wind energy, and food technologies so that we can have more efficient (non-genetically altered) means of feeding people.

In other words… the Earth is the Sugar-Honey-Iced-Tea…