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Sunday, April 20, 2008

where's the outrage?

In honor of Michael Pollan, I just spent a sunny hour in my garden. It was so nice! The sun was out, the roses are starting to bloom; I chatted with a neighbor over the fence; there may even be hope for my tomatoes.

Like most people I know, I'm a big Pollan fan, inspired by how much he has single-handedly done to encourage us to eat more wisely. Still, when given the amazing platform of a front-page story in today's New York Times Magazine, I cannot imagine how he couldn't dedicate a single paragraph to highlighting how much our governments need to do to combat climate change, like yesterday. He even disparages this idea, in defense of his point, saying "to look to leaders and experts, to laws and money and grand schemes, to save us from our predicament represents precisely the sort of thinking -- passive, delegated, dpendent for solutions on specialists -- that helped get us into this mess in the first place." Like Voltaire, instead, he urges us to tend to our gardens.

I do agree we all need to pay more attention to the way we're consuming. Yet I can't see how leaders, experts, laws, money and grand schemes aren't going to be the main priority, and, like yesterday, to give us any prayer of avoiding snowballing climate disasters. Climate change is an emergency, one that will require diplomats dealing with China, enormous investments in technology, construction crews putting up windfarms, local legislators cracking down on utilities, draconian campaign finance reform, and much, much more. And I wish Pollan hadn't used his bully pulpit to dismiss this reality.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

holy rolling

So, what was my 12-year-old son doing delightedly AWOL from school yesterday? Taking an impulsive journey to Seattle to see the Dalai Lama on the last of the five-day Seeds of Compassion conference. This is the son who was celebrated in Psychology Today Magazine
last year for calling 911 after I took away his Gameboy, and, frankly, I felt that the peer pressure of some 60,000 people in the University of Washington arena listening to stories of compassion from the DL and Desmond Tutu, and others, might help advance his moral education. True, we shared the same sheepish expression when we had to chant repeatedly, "We are the seeds of compassi-onnnnn; we're ready to sow the seeds of compassion, right now!" But it was nonetheless -- I suspect -- a transformative event for him (though he may only realize that decades from now!) and felt so right, in the non-hokey moments, to be turning our attention for a day onto the subject of human evolution. Or its potential, at any rate. I also really like the fact that the DL said repeatedly over the week that his first teacher of compassion was -- you guessed it! His mom.

My kids got a double-dose of role models this week, as my husband and I dragged them to the Goldman awards on Monday. This was the first time in the 5 years we've gone to this amazing ceremony that we dared to bring them, and they actually did us proud, not spitting on anyone from the balcony, and even discussing the heroic achievements of the half-dozen recipients afterwards.

...And, because it's getting impossible for me to wind up a blog without mentioning global warming, I just have to add that as ambivalent I've felt at times, living in Marin County, with the Priuses in the driveway and hot-tubs in the back yards, I was so proud this morning to see my home featured on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle as potentially the first big US county to opt for independent power. By the end of next year, the county and several other co-conspirators, may break away from our very profitable electric utility,
PG&E, which may well be one of the greenest power firms in the US today, but is nowhere near where we need it to be in terms of breaking away from fossil fuels.

Off to watch the debates...hey, maybe the kids will join us! Kids?... Kids?????

Saturday, April 12, 2008

lifting depression

Kelly Lambert, the scientist much-cited in The Mommy Brain for her pioneering work in investigating maternal smarts, has just come out with her first trade book, Lifting Depression. Her insights are just as enlightening and original in this important topic.

Friday, April 04, 2008

company when you need it most

Even more -- frankly, much more -- than I worry about global warming, I worry about the seemingly infinite variety of accidents, illnesses, spider bites, car crashes, or any other type of catastrophes that might strike either of my boys while I'm still living. I can barely imagine the kind of courage it would take to survive such a loss, and yet every year in the United States, some 2 million parents are faced with that challenge. Several years ago in Palo Alto, I lived next to a wonderful woman, Suzy Redfern, whose life exemplifies grace under these impossible circumstances. After losing her daughter, she joined with other grieving mothers in support groups, out of which has come a new book, "The Grieving Garden," co-authored with Sue Gilbert. Isabelle Allende, who lost a daughter, calls it, "a fearless, compelling, and ultimately healing glimpse into the heart of love and loss." I know, from knowing Suzy, that the book will offer generous helpings of solace and compassion.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

we interrupt this silence for...

I know, I know, I could be a better blogger.

But I don't want to take anybody's time for anything less than meaningful. And I still haven't figured out how to insert links -- there, I've admitted it. And as I delve into writing my new book about attention, I'm progressively hyper-aware of how much precious time I lose every time I let myself get stuck in the Web. (By the way, the wonderful writer Katy Butler (www.katybutler.com) told me a great trick for managing email. It's powerful in its simplicity. You don't open the program first thing in the morning. This works so much better than my ridiculous promising my self I won't check it every five minutes that I had to share it. But I digress.)

I had to check in today because of two things. One is to convey the shock, but, sadly, not surprise, of reading recently (while stuck in the Web) how a chunk of ice the size of Connecticut just fell from Antarctica. Another is the email I got today, despite my valiant attempts to ward off so many random attempts to grab slices of my limited capacity for focus, that does merit attention.

It's from a group called 1Sky (www.1Sky.org) with an invitation for thinking mothers to use the upcoming Mothers Day to make a statement about climate change. Check it out, in your copious free time. I'm putting it on my to-do list and hope you do too.