I dreamed about Robin Williams last night. He was deeply sad with flares of anger. All of his jokes had a flavor of bitterness.
The setting was a trailer house with add-ons. My whole family was there. It was a kind of family reunion in a barely passable space, but we kept finding small good details to guard ourselves against the general dismalness of it.
None of us asked him the obvious, "We thought you were dead, Robin? Why are you here?" He just kept showing up at random times and when he did we all just listened gently. He was angry and sad about a lot of things: mostly greed and unkindness... the kind that show up as polluted water sources and suffering children, indifference to refugees. He was so bitter it was painful to be near him. You wanted to hug him and make it better, but he wanted greater action than that.
He wanted all of us to insist on, demand, real change.
I don't want to disappoint dream Robin Williams. Or my granddaughter who turned one year old just the other day. I want to be able to tell her the story of how we rose to the challenges and found ways to really care for each other. All of us. All 7+ billion of us.
I want to tell the story, one day, about how our hearts grew several sizes, like the Grinch. How we began opening borders and welcoming each other in. How we learned to grow abundant gardens of the most delightful and nourishing foods alongside wild flowers next to impossibly beautiful forests. How we built longer tables with the wood we had been planning to build fences with.
I want to tell the story, one day soon, about how we stopped using single use plastic the very second we found out that it was polluting our drinking water and becoming more ubiquitous than life in the oceans.
Next time Robin Williams shows up in my dream, I want to be able to cheer him up.
When my granddaughter is older, I want to be able to tell her how we became a more compassionate and caring society, not offer her excuses about lack of funding or political will.
To that end, what can I do, right now, today? Who do I need to ask the obvious questions of? What are we going to do about these very real, very big problems? Which doors I have to knock on? What numbers do I have to dial? Who do I have to bring with me on this quest? What riddles will we have to solve?
One little thing I can do today....
I vow never to forget my water bottle or coffee cup or utensils again. And if I do forget them, I'll go back and get them. No more single use plastic. Not even coffee cup lids.
And dammit, I'm writing a letter to every restaurant I ever see that puts straws in the water glasses. Ggrrr.
But that's just the low hanging fruit. What else must I do? Must we do?
How do we convince each other to fight for public transportation and safe bike lanes and higher fuel efficiency standards with the same passion and dedication that the NRA fights for gun rights?
How do we grow our hearts and our courage and let our passion for each other and the planet infect those who want to stay small and scared?
What if we applied the energy that it takes to debate what makes a perfect dry cappuccino to the problems of climate change?
I really don't want to have to face a bitter Robin Williams in my dreams again.
Who will go on this quest with me? We've got to protect the life support systems and morale on our Earth space ship. Let's get to work.