POET'S CORNER by Jeff Hartzer
#016: September, 2005
Gusty Winds May Exist
“One day you turn around, and it's summer /Next day you turn around, and it's fall /And all the winters and the springs of a lifetime/ Whatever happened to them all? ...And I find, I'm sighing softly as I near/September, the warm September of my years.”
Frank Sinatra crooned those words once and they sing just as true today. The ninth month of the year traditionally gives birth to change. September seems more a turning point for our world today than ever before. Four years ago September brought us 9/11, a day never to be forgotten, and now, Hurricane Katrina. A Led Zeppelin line sums it up: When the levee breaks, I'll have no place to stay...
We are grateful in this high desert land for our blue skies, hot air balloons, green and red chiles, Zozobras, Kookooees, and most especially for clean, dry beds to lay our heads on at night. With $500 billion in damages and the onslaught of highest ever gas and fuel prices, we are humbled by the strength of God’s hand. Can this same hand weave an equal amount of compassion and goodness through our lands? We can only hope. Katrina reminds us to be thankful for each single moment of our short planetary lives.
As observers of tragedy we each become poet or artist in our own way. We can not look at Katrina’s impact and not somehow be moved. Take time now to “journal” your perceptions of this loss of land and life smack in the belly of America. List the loves of your life; the joys. List those people, places, and things that bring you hope, peace, and joy. Those pieces of the “happiness puzzle” might be all you have left after one good house fire, car accident, or windstorm. Hold fast to all that is precious in your life and be thankful for that preciousness.
Consider for a moment what is truly important to you. Would a house full of sludge, mud, and tainted water take that away from you? Is what is most precious able to be bought or is it given by a higher power than yourself? Is the love of your children or your tail-wagging friends less precious than that new SUV in your driveway? As the green leaves of spring and summer give way to the colors of autumn and the bare tees of winter, what will you be bringing to your winter table? What is it that you are beginning to harvest now in this ninth month of the year?
We will all pay more this winter to keep our furnaces and SUV’s filled with fuel. Probably more to keep our own stomachs full with New Orleans serving as the gateway for barges and ships to bring our heartland’s crops to market. Undoubtedly, our taxes will rise to pay off this storm-caused debt. Despite this, we have our lives, our families and our homes all alive and well here. So many have been left with nothing but their lives this September and they are grateful for that. There is time this month to cut away the outer leaves of showiness of our lives to see what lies beneath and to discover the true essence of our daily rituals, our daily bread, and the way we place ourselves in our world. What is most precious? What carries true value? What is it that most motivates us to carry on? If you were to lose everything, what would you then have? What could you still give thanks for? God Bless us All.
Food for thought: Many are critical of the early Katrina relief efforts. Let’s ponder this on a local level: If widespread disaster struck the South Valley would the aid of our State or Nation be the same as it would be if tragedy struck the far North East Heights of Albuquerque? A forest fire might ravage the Sandias or an oil tank might blow up in the South Valley. (For that matter, one of the many atomic weapons stored in the Manzanos could blow all of us up!) Does the news media treat a shooting in the Heights differently than one in the Valley? Is La Cueva High School thought of in the same way as Rio Grande High School? An age old question for Albuquerque citizens is raised by the Katrina tragedy. Does manure flow downhill in the minds of our government officials?
Jeff Hartzer copyright 2005