Sunday, March 31, 2019

What I Learned in March

In March we entered the season of Lent. Here in Haiti we celebrate Carnival, except not this year; the main state-sponsored festivities were canceled because of the political situation. We did get our week off school, not that we really needed more days off. We entered Lent with ashes as we did last year, and as Christians have been doing for centuries. We remembered that we are dust. Here's something new I incorporated into my Lenten worship this year: a liturgy of Lament offered as a free download by Aaron Niequist.

This month I thought about this podcast in which Krista Tippett interviews Alain de Botton about love and relationships. He talks about how we often are solely focused on the beginning of love in our literature and movies, when really the interesting part is how people work things out, make things last. I started making a musical playlist called "Old Love," named for the Mary Chapin Carpenter song.
So far I have Huey Lewis and the News, Sara Groves, Audrey Assad, Jason Mraz, Over the Rhine, Josh Garrels, Anderson East. Any suggestions to add to my Old Love collection?

I learned about the church forests in Ethiopia in this National Geographic article. In a time when environmental news is almost exclusively terrible, this was a much-needed ray of hope.

This report from Boston University about EDH, the Haitian electric company, came out a year ago, but for some reason it was only this month that the local press reported on it. This made very depressing reading. It has a lot of statistics in it, many of which mean little to me. One, for example, was that the average Haitian person consumes 37 kWh per year of electricity. Because I have a limited idea of what a kWh is or how much is a lot, I googled US statistics for comparison purposes. The average US resident consumes 11,980 kWh per year of electricity. I mean, c'mon now. At this point we are not even talking about the same planet. Thirty-seven versus eleven thousand nine hundred and eighty? And guess which one of these two countries, 700 miles apart, will suffer worse results from global climate change?

In March, a Facebook friend posted this article about civility of discourse. Here's a little taste: "The ego utilizes cruelty because cruelty provides drama, chaos, hate and division - all the ingredients that the ego needs to remain in the driver’s seat; all at a low cost. But is the cost really so low? Our ego feeds off the ego of others. The back and forth we engage in only grows the ego, drains energy, and perpetuates a false feeling that unless we keep going, we are creating a deficit in our identity. To starve the ego, we have to pay the low, low price of compassion. It’s actually not as costly as cruelty in the long run. Compassion produces a tangible return, with interest. In fact, investing compassion into a conversation is about one of the most lucrative investments a person can make."

I learned this month that according to one of my eighth graders, I am a "lit teacher." That's not lit, short for literature (though I am that), but lit, meaning cool and shiny. Or something like that. And she's probably already changed her mind. But it was still nice to hear it.

I learned that according to this article in French from Le Monde, the Haitian cohort in their thirties now, so in their early twenties when the earthquake of 2010 happened, is being called by some people "la génération fin du monde," the end of the world generation. They watched the apocalyptic events of 2010, and survived them as so many others did not; they expected things to change, but somehow that didn't happen. Now, according to the article, they are the ones orchestrating some of the current political upheaval.

After a conversation with a friend in my writing group about narrative arcs, I clicked on this article about other metaphors besides arcs we could use for how fiction progresses. Crystalline? Orange-shaped? Labyrinthine? Spiral?

What a bizarre collection of new directions my mind went in this month! I wonder what April has in store?

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