Monday, April 20, 2015
Even talking about it now brings me close to panic.
We weren't getting the latest Disney fare or a documentary about kittens. We saw movies about pollution, water shortage, disease, environmental decay, fire, and I'm pretty sure brimstone - though no religion. I have vivid images burned in my brain of puffing smokestacks and ankles puffed up by elephantiasis.
To say that I have been anxious since birth is not an exaggeration. Afraid of the dark, afraid of snakes, afraid of making a fool of myself, afraid of nuclear annihilation. I had plenty to worry about on every afternoon of the week and for an entire school year, in the name of education, my teachers poured burning pitch on my little flame of fear and watched it leap 10 feet high and white hot.
I went on to fear listening to the news and, even now, am pretty much unable to turn off my reaction to any sensationalist delivery of even scientific information. I'm smart enough to know I'm being manipulated but anxious enough not to be able to fight the feeling, if you'll pardon the expression.
Last night I went to see Jane Goodall speak. She's the chimpanzee lady, you know? The gorilla lady died so if you're going to hear someone speak you go listen to the chimpanzee lady. The last three sentences should make it pretty clear how much I knew about Dr. Goodall going in. I bought the ticket because I knew a friend really liked Goodall's work and suddenly several friends did and we decided to go as a group.
WHAM! I was right back in Mrs. Fitch's 4th grade classroom being told to line up for the movie. Suddenly I was planning what stories I might distract myself with in my head while still paying enough attention to contribute to the conversation later but not paying so much attention that I'd have a panic attack and ruin everyone's night. When we arrived there was an informative slideshow playing and I watched the panels carefully to glean as much as I could.
When the lights went down I started to cry.
I did not have a panic attack and I was able to listen to the whole thing with all my attention. I could not, however, stop crying. Dr. Goodall is highly optimistic but she's open to the fact that her optimism might be misplaced. She has a plan to do her best to bring her optimism to fruition. She travels 300 days per year carrying out that plan and she's been doing that since the year I graduated from college.
I graduated from college a long time ago.
Climate change is still a thing.
Her program asks activists (mostly kids) to do one thing for people, one thing for animals, and one thing for the environment. She does not ask that you do everything. She does ask that you do something.
I'm still kind of crying over it. But I think I can do something while I cry.
As told by Kizz Robinson at 11:30 AM