Christmas has come and gone, and another New Year is upon us. Happy 2013! - or, as the saying has gone this time around, "Happy New Era!" And may it be so. I don't have any statistical proof to go on, but Whidbey Island may have more Holiday gatherings per capita than any other place in North America. There might be some pockets of extreme revelry off-continent, like in Brazil, that rival us. But we've got All-Pro standing in El Norte. I'm sure of it. I probably wouldn't even know this, except that my wife Sally is on the All-Pro Party team. This poses a challenge to me as a contemplative, pushing me beyond my ordinary limits, and - I'll be perfectly honest - I made it to the finish line this year on fumes.
But there were great moments, and here is one of them. Our friends Chris Swenson and Abigail Halpern came up from Seattle to join us for the final push to New Years. Chris received this email while he was with us from his colleague Jessica Plumb of Port Townsend, WA. I'm passing it on to you with Jessica's permission.
Jessica is an award winning filmmaker and visual artist who works the rich terrain of Washington's Olympic Penninsual. According to Jessica, "The intersection of place and human experience is a theme that runs through my work and my life. . . Many of my films explore the idea of inner cartography, the ridges and valleys carved inside us by experience, and by the places we've called home." This is the same terrain I've been exploring for years in my writing, teaching and guiding.
Jessica's daughter Zia is 6 years old, and a regular companion on her journeys to remote parts of the Olympic Penninsula. "Zia's favorite place to be is in Olympic National Park." says Jessica. "She loves the outdoors, and is quite preoccupied with environmental questions. I'm making a film about the Elwha River, so we talk about these issues often."
This Christmas, Zia made some connections in her mind between the disappearing Arctic ice cap and Santa's long term prospects. Jessica stated that, "this was the first time Zia put Santa's predicament and global warming together - and I think she's onto something." Here is the summary of their conversation on the subject:
Zia: "Santa lives at the North Pole, right? And the North Pole is just ice, not land, and it's melting?"
Jessica: "I'm afraid so." (Zia's eyes grow huge in horror.)
Zia: "This has got to stop! What can we do about it?"
Jessica: "It's complicated. Lots of us need to change how we live. One thing we can do is drive less; it's why we walk to school."
Zia: "Kids don't drive, Mom. If kids knew Santa's home was melting, they'd walk everywhere!" She gets very serious. "I don't believe Santa comes down the chimney, Mom, and I think he has millions of helpers. But I am sure that melting the North Pole is a very bad idea."
Ah, to have the clarity of a six year old on things that really matter. It should be as obvious to us as it is to Zia that depriving Santa of a place to live and work (not to mention his millions of helpers) is "a very bad idea." Maybe its time to give polar bears a rest, and focus more on Santa Claus in global warming messaging. If more kids connected the dots the way Zia has, their parents would catch holy hell until they decide to actually do something about it. Something a six year old can understand, like walking more places and driving a lot less. A bunch of really pissed off six year olds might be able to move the dial more than a mountain of scientific evidence. It's worth a try.