Our Lives Are On Loan

A lovely morning, the sky streaked with cerulean blue and white, promising warmth. Later, thunder and colder.

We live in a difficult moment, one filled with extinctions. In response, we raise our voices and demand change. There is hope yet, although hope must coexist with the very real threat that no one is listening. There is a nightmarish quality to things, as we find ourselves struggling to make sense of events over which we have little control. I strive to remember that we are not alone, that others have lived on the brink, perhaps are living now on a razor’s edge. I want to acknowledge that our ancestors faced similar times, learned to fight back and to hide, awaiting a better day. I struggle to appreciate their choices, to applaud their tenacity in the face of brutality.

I am the result of their dreaming, and carry their hope for a better future, interwoven inextricably with my own.  Our human generations now join giraffes, manatees, and innumerable other peoples, large and small, in a shrinking, desperate world where our shared personhood is acknowledged by what seems like a tiny few. Within me are voices who recall the teachings of those who held me as a promise for many generations, those who knew that all organisms are people who once shared language, romance, and passion.

I wonder: how have we arrived at this place where we have forgotten our essential kinship, our shared personhood with all beings?  After all, isn’t extinction just another word for genocide? It is hard to sit with the rage, not knowing for sure who it belongs to, or what part is mine. I have learned to treasure those rare moments when I remember there is no mine, just ours, the singing and dancing of hundreds of millions of years of lived experience, the lifetimes of innumerable elders residing now in our genes. They remind us, least we forget, that our genes, experiences, and memories are on loan from both the past and the future, and that the gift of our lives comes with sacred obligation.

19 thoughts on “Our Lives Are On Loan

  1. Miigwech for this. I really like the echoing of I am the result of my ancestors dreaming of me. I do believe that what’s happening now is cyclical in nature. With each round we are offered a chance to make a change and evolve. I’m hopeful that we learn with each cycle and have the courage to keep moving forward with equality of all life.

  2. That is such a beautiful thought Michael- and the acknowledgement of our limited time. I echo it back to you and thank you for the beauty of your expression. Affectionate regards from India

  3. I was angered this morning by the news of what happened to that Rhino in that zoo in France. Poachers-in Paris! It’s difficult to hang onto hope and not despair.

  4. I like how you invite me to step into the cosmic River and feel the flow of all of life — ancestors, dreams, manatees, sky, and everything else. It is truly sad that so many do not hear that invitation, that calling, that opportunity to live in belonging together.

  5. It is very easy to become overwhelmed with the enormity of the task. I am probably naive but I do believe if we all took responsibility for our own small part of the world it would make a difference. I have an overgrown patch in my garden and right now it is awash with all kinds of birdlife and hopefully butterflies in the spring. As well, we as consumers must look at our part in the decimation of some species and over farming. This also includes governments not turning a blind eye to the trades in ivory and other products because of their economic agenda. China is welcomed in to invest billions of pounds but it appears to come with very little in the way of conditions.

    1. Sally, As we sit here, watching the blizzard and working in the studio, we look to remember that the task is indeed shared. You speak well, tending what we can is so important. Only then do we have a chance to heal the world.

  6. I feel your frustration here, Michael. I like to think, that we were the new hope for our ancestors, this is a huge responsibility.
    I have thought much about, why we went from living together to now living in very small groups, if any at all. There might be many answers here and for me to see, one of them is greed. All want more, than they already have, even if this is not needed.
    We need to be grateful for, what we already have instead.

    1. Irene, I imagine our great hunger for more is driven by our loneliness and desperation. I wonder whether being open to our many ancestors, and our collective place on this small and magical planet, would help.

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