October autumn on durable Earth


I grew some hair around the lips in August, thick enough that one of my classmates called the image “distinguished,” but not thick enough to play Ho! Ho! Ho! @ Christmas.

I am not fascinated with aging, though I write of it much of late. It is the facticity of it that I affirm. It was the hair around the lips that pegged my age in August. When I grew it long, it turned unwieldy, heading in all directions but this time, with a typhoon wiping out power and water supply on island, I decided to let it web its net sans the snip of a clipper. 

The language today is network, like the atomic spheres drawn around the Earth’s image rather than national boundaries that pitted a country against another in the old colonial understanding of politics.

I mouth the wisdom of the ages. Maneesh of Maharashtra phases life at 20-year increments. Under 20 is a time of exploration, into 40 as experimentation, heading 60 is innovation, and towards 80, the disciplines of meditation, contemplation and prayer, what one is taught and learns. He utters Om, the sound that takes in and breaths out everything!

Rock-of-Peter tradition drives many to providence in the guise of religious devotion when critical decisions are made, and Mahmoud’s favored expression is Anshallah, God will provide. On my knees before the numinous unknown, I invariably earn the unqualified response of, “You decide; you can handle it.” Allah provides.

I face the future—to make and leave personal fingerprints on the remaining years of my existence. Many find the stance atheistic, or at least agnostic. Not by my book. I swear on ancient authority, the Torah and the Talmud, the Biblos and the saints, the Koran and the Prophet’s sayings!

The wisdom of old age is the endless and gracious acceptance of the Way Life Is, YHWH (Iahoua, Jehovah) in the old language before devout Christians personalized it in Jesus’ idolatry. Ultra-Orthodox Jews sway their black-hatted curls in archaic tongues before the old wailing wall of Jerusalem. A Muslim pulled an AK-47 on a French train, hostile to those who drained his oil pools with royal connivance while the hoi polloi endured the desert’s barren soil. Media dubbed him insane. The recent hajj saw a couple of groups out to “stone the devil” collide in Mina while heading in opposite directions.

I skipped “panic” when I was sucked in by the ebb tide on the breach at Sugar Dock. I ventured into the coral reef the day after a storm, waves extremely unfriendly to my 70-ish flailing arms. Aging comes to me profoundly at the tail end of my “being here”; but the planet’s journey is only halfway its course.

Colleagues rightly decry the destructive manner of making consumption an operating principle in human society. Economic growth is a mantra for motivation, leaving us a despoiled Earth that lashes back with convulsions of climate change. We pollute the air and waters; mess up the ecological balance. Rep. Paul Gozar boycotted Pope Francis’ visit to Congress because the papal office sees responding to climate change a moral imperative.

Thomas Berry in the Dream of the Earth wrote: “We are the termination, not the fulfillment of the Earth process. If there were a parliament of creatures, its first decision might well be to vote the humans out of the community…”

Any serious analysis of the Earth’s health sees the human fingerprint writ on the side of destruction. Individuals now face the limits and possibilities of responsibility rather than the actuations of the race. A three-part series on Human the Movie on YouTube is instructive; it delves on singular manifestations.

The human sickness through the ages has been the despair of spirit; it does not come naturally but is a matter of choice. I can speculate on the planet’s ability to act as a living organism, as current literature do, leaving some followers of Berry to say, “Thus sayeth the Earth,” uttered in the same vein as the name of zealot Zeus, or thunder-loud Theos, or doting Dios, and definitely, yessir, Si Yu’us Maasi.

For all our fears, the Earth prevails. Not Dulcinea who requires Quixotic protection but in our time, the Earth takes the place of Theos for fealty.

Which brings me back to the hair around the lips. Brushing strands each morning so they lean in the same direction was futile but the act was a good exercise to let the soul claim management and the illusion of control. I shaved it as a gesture of surviving the Sugar Dock ebbing tide. I managed.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon contravenes Obama’s intent to pull military personnel out of Afghanistan by the end of his term. The Pentagon’s might determines policy; it does in the Marianas. Presidentiable Mark Rubio says: “Time to let Obama finish his term; the issue is post-Obama future”—a thought I can chew.

I avoid stepping on my own toes. What matters is what I do with the remaining years of my “being here” on to the “completion of my journey.” Not surprisingly, Earth endures.

Jaime R. Vergara | Special to the Saipan Tribune
Jaime Vergara previously taught at SVES in the CNMI. A peripatetic pedagogue, he last taught in China but makes Honolulu, Shenyang, and Saipan home. He can be reached at pinoypanda2031@aol.com.

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