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It's Nelly's World

Feeling Oats

alec vanderboom


Every year, I say I'm going to catch it this time. But the leaves change color anyway, while I'm not looking. It's the analog to the birthday that creeps up without us "knowing." We'd rather not know, thank you very much.

Still, I'm very happy for the change of season. Autumn feels like death to some people--flora does indeed look like it's dying, but it's not; it is dying in order to live again, just like some of us. This is the stream of paradox into which life pushes us. It carries us along swiftly, and cleanses us at the same time. But don't resist, or you drown!

Some people are anticipating a winter they feel is dark and oppressive, a boom that's lowering. It's called SAD. (Who came up with this one? Is there a hiring office for Apt Acronym Creation? What's the salary like?) There should be an award for naming this one, Seasonal Affective Disorder. Aka despondent depression. I've never felt it myself, but I am intimately acquainted with its effects.

Nelly doesn't feel it for her part; quite the opposite. The snap in the air brings a snap to her step, and she bounds off the rail trail (or "trailrail," in the parlance of a non-native-English-speaker I know) hot on the heels of a chattering squirrel.

[Think, for a moment, about what a squirrel's heels actually look like. Thanks.]

Just teasing you, Nel! I know you can't climb trees, heh-heh. She freezes, looking up at the branches, noble face outlined against the brown of the woods.

She is full of life, and so am I right now, for some reason. I don't know why, but I'll take it. Even though there seems to be so much that is frightening now. The prospect of another Great Depression. This horrible bubble we've been forced to sit on top of and now feel deflating under us--You mean none of that money ever existed? It was not real, yet we were spending it anyway, billions and billions and billions of dollars they simply call "the deficit," much of it ending up in the pockets of "contractors" for the "rebuilding" of a country we destroyed for no purpose, and somehow buying things like seven houses for one person who pretends to represent us--I can only shake my head, then decide where today I will take my dog for her walk.

Yes, though, of course I feel genuine fear: I do not want to be alone on November 4, because I am afraid I may then have to cry alone. I naively do not know what people are capable of; I do not know what the Republican Party is capable of, though I am being given to fear that it is truly deep into malfeasance and practically evil. I understand they are busy trying to wipe the rolls clean of all the new voters recently registered, because most of them are the previously disenfranchised, i.e., likely to support Obama. And do not underestimate the power of racism to curdle the milk. (My prison pen pal, who happens to be black, writes, "I'm really freaking pissed off at McCain after the last debate. I mean, why didn't he just call Barack a nigger? Instead he used the Southern 'that one,' which in case you didn't know is what passes for it in 'polite' circles. . . . McCain/Palin rallies are one rope short of a lynch mob.") This is something to be frightened of, and energized by. I am feeling my oats now. I don't want to cry alone. If the Bad Guys (and Gal) win, we will face an unprecedented disaster, on moral and physical levels both. We have been living in Fantasyland for a while here in the U.S.; we created an unsustainably high tower of cards. That it is now blowing down is cause for a paradoxical pleasure: only in destruction of the unreal construction is there the hope to rebuild something that can last because it is built on a foundation of truth.

Only because the leaves fall and die can the green of spring burst forth. Only by grace of a small recent disaster could I have unwrapped this gift of possibility: a new life based on the giving and receipt of love. Renewal hides inside death. So I say: Death to the old regime, and its false promises. Life to what is real. Feel your oats.