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Birds Coast When They Can

An essay posted to Medium over the weekend is being widely shared. I Lived Through Collapse. America Is Already There. How life goes on, surrounded by death by Indi Samarajiva. It describes living through the Sri Lankan civil war.

I lived through the end of a civil war. Do you know what it was like for me? Quite normal. I went to work, I went out, I dated. This is what Americans don’t understand. They’re waiting to get personally punched in the face while ash falls from the sky. That’s not how it happens.

And that’s what life feels like now. We’ve now reached over 200,000 Americans dead from this uncontrolled pandemic. But last Wednesday, I took my son to see some silent films, outdoors, with live music and caught up with a few friends at the event. We’re barreling toward an election with results that will surely be contested and may end up in civil war. But Friday night I joined other friends for live music, outdoors. The climate crisis is unfolding with alarming speed. Experts are talking about water wars and making models for climate migration in the near future. But my son and I enjoyed the new tofu sandwiches from Zen Box. The Republicans are trying to rush to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court with an unqualified right winger who believes women are subservient to men. Her appointment would be disastrous and roll back decades of progress made for women and minority groups in this country. She is not qualified to safeguard our constitutional rights and liberties as a member of our nation’s highest court. But I went for some pleasant walks in the lovely Fall weather. And relaxed by cooking and baking. And ordered a new spice rack for the kitchen. And talked with my neighbors about the neighborhood’s wild turkeys. All while this country is collapsing. It’s all so surreal but feels comparable to the tales I’ve heard from others from Sri Lanka. Or my own people who lived through the Lebanese Civil War and the country’s corruption after. Or from a former co-worker from Bosnia. Though those conflicts all unfolded over time. The United States has lost so many and unraveled so much in such a compressed period. I’m trying not to give into cynicism and despair, but I’m feeling almost manic. Wild swings from living in the moment / enjoying every day life stuff to obsessively doom scrolling and worrying about the US and the world at large. At least I am not alone in this.

My son, in early Fall

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