This week we bounced back and forth between sunny skies and a dusting of marine fog, that made for picturesque scenery either way. I spent many mornings in my office with south facing windows, feeling the sun on my face, then stretches of dim light, watching clouds pass through the spruce and pine needles. The days have still felt very comfortable–I find myself spending a lot of my walking, breathing in deep and looking up into the treetops. I feel this strong motivation to enjoy it as much as I can while I have it.
I started the week off witnessing the rise of the Super Blood Moon. I watched the sunset in the west and all the colors fade in the sky over the ocean. I sat in a spot under some scrubby trees, facing the ocean and witnessed the blue darken. It was getting close to 8, which was about the time the moon would rise over the mountains east of us, just as the eclipse that was turning it red would take effect. I walked towards the edge of the beach, unfolded my camping chair and faced the mountains. The wind was blowing about 30 mph and it was chilly, not ideal for sitting in a camping chair with shorts on. But the sky was completely clear, and I was happy to see the dark red ball emerge. There were talks all week about how this wouldn’t happen again for about 20 years, making you feel like you it might be some kind of milestone. I didn’t really feel all that as I was watching–I just thought it looked really cool and I wanted to keep watching it.
The Chicago Cubs are having an amazing season. It’s a season where everything has clicked. A bunch of planning, a bunch of terrible seasons so they could start things over, a good amount of luck and youthful ignorance has played in their favor, and they are one of the great teams in a very good National League Central Division this year. I’ve really enjoyed watching this team when I’ve had a chance, because I feel like I’m seeing the beginning of something. A lot of these players are playing the majors for their first time. It’s a joy to see how much joy they are having playing a game that I love too. One night this week, they went to extra innings with the Royals. Backup Outfielder, Chris Denorfia swung at the first pitch in the first at bat of the 11th inning and hit it out of the park. Boom. Game over. The Cubs win again. The players met him at home place and went nuts like they have many times this year.
The next day, I read that Chris Denorfia had made history. I was interested to see this, but I had no idea what it could be. Deno definitely is not in any kind of homerun race–he spent most of the season injured. It turns out his shot marked the first time a pinch hitter had hit a walk-off homerun to end a game that ended 1-0. I rolled my eyes. I’m sure he’s going to put that plaque on his wall.
It’s funny how we can sometimes be so obsessed with unique distinctions and firsts. We to be Rosa Parks or Neil Armstrong so bad. And, if we try hard enough, we can find some thing that we’ve been the first to do if we through in enough parameters. Did you realize that you’re reading an historic blog post? This is the first blog that I’ve ever written on an October day in Oregon while wearing Adidas shorts. It is truly a special moment indeed. Why can’t we just marvel how special it is that we just saw this homerun win? Why does it have to be monumental? History will decide what is really important long after we’re gone. Sometimes we cheapen something by trying to make it something beyond itself, trying to make it mean something that its not trying to be. There may even be something in it we haven’t figured out yet.
I started seeing reports of the shooting at Umpqua Community College in the afternoon, and it felt so close. Roseberg is more than 4 hours from me, so I’m really pretty geographically removed from it, but it seemed like it was just down the road. I didn’t have any summer staff members attending, and I don’t think we’ve had any guests or volunteers either. I was shook by the reports that the gunman asked people their religion before shooting in a way I didn’t expect to be. We still live in a country where it’s pretty freaking good to be a Christian, but I couldn’t help but think about being in that position or people I love being in that position. I was sad for that and for this guy who for this moment was governed by this need to unload so much pain in such a way. I knew that I would soon begin to see posts of statistics about gun violence from gun control and gun rights supporters immediately, which is becoming about as predictable as the shootings themselves.
It’s hard not to feel a helplessness every time this happens. People talk about becoming numb to them, and I guess there is some of that. But, there continue to be moments when I just get shook by thinking about it, wondering where we are going, which I’m sure is pretty common. Though not as troubling as the violent acts themselves, I am growing weary of how we go straight to an entrenched debate about guns every time someone gets shot, without a lot of sharing with each other just what this does to us. It seems often like people are more afraid about policy changes than they are hurting over these tragedies. I know that’s not what’s going on. This scares people and they are scared of something worse. But it feels like we are just digging deeper trenches on each side and not working to find a solution. None of us are experts, but the internet makes us feel like we are. We can find facts about so many things, but in the end, kids are getting shot at college more and more, and we seem to get more and more self righteous, confident we know what this means. I don’t have an answer either, but I wish we’d handle these tragedies in a way that honored our pain in a more constructive way.I wish it didn’t immediately descend into these familiar arguments. I wish we weren’t so scared.
Lately, the mix of clouds and sunlight have made for some beautiful sunsets. One evening, I went out with Digby to see our slow turn away from the sun for another evening. The tide was low, and Digby and I strolled onto the sand moistened by the receding water. The clouds took the sunlight and turned it into purples, pinks, and oranges. I threw the tennis ball with Digby, and he sprinted at top speed each time. He came back and barked at me until I threw it again. The colors kept morphing and moving to new spots, expanding, contracting. It was a gorgeous display, and I tried to take it in in a way that honored it, that I would remember. Here I was at this beautiful place, safe and comfortable with my little dog, playing with a tennis ball next to the ocean. How did we do it? What do you do with the knowledge that you have this thing that many people don’t in this moment? I wanted to be changed a little bit by it, I wanted it to mean something. I reminded myself, though, that I might not be able to understand, that I should just stay a little longer in its presence. Maybe it would tell me something I need to know, if I listened well. The colors kept changing, the breeze kept blowing, and we were standing in it.