Thursday, May 22, 2014

Everything You Love May Be Swallowed by the Sea

Yesterday at the elementary school, my Reading Pal and I made our way through Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  It seemed that everyone throughout the day yesterday was an Alexander.  My Reading Pal pronounced every book not worth reading; the pictures that he drew he declared as ugly.  At work, students were confused about which classes were moving to new rooms.  I got incomplete or illegible transcript packets, and people were not happy when I requested more information.  My travels through the day took me across the path of many people who were not having a good day.

Happily, that changed by evening.  A friend of mine got free tickets to hear Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of the famous oceanographer.  My spouse and I joined her for a great meal on an outdoor patio of a restaurant, and then we headed over to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

We were joined by other friends and their grown up children, home from college.  We had a chance to do some catching up.  And then, the presentation started.

Cousteau didn't tell us much that I didn't already know, although he's been to much deeper depths of the ocean than most of us. 

The questions that he got kept coming back to global warming and its effects on the oceans.  He said that every time he returns to the ocean and he sees the life there, he knows it's not too late.  He said that some people have sophisticated brains and others don't, but we all have a heart, and his task is to discover ways to appeal to everyone's heart.

He excoriated modern humans for their use of bottled water; in not these exact words, he said that bottled water is a capitalist scam.  He said that tap water is perfectly fine.  He said, "I will not touch plastic."  He has developed a metal container with a filtration system as part of it that can be used 360 times; it's been tested with waters that have all sorts of contaminants and people haven't gotten sick from drinking that water that's gone through the filtration.

During the question and answer session, he fielded a question about sea level rise, and he said that people at the coast will have to move.  He looked at the audience and said, "Don't make the mistake of thinking you'll be leaving your houses to your children."  It's rare to hear that honesty, although each year our insurance goes up, a different kind of honesty.

We had parked at the Broward College garage, where we could park for free.  We walked through a festive part of Ft. Lauderdale, everyone spilling out to dine and drink along the sidewalks as music pounded from the bars.  We went to our car on the 7th floor of the parking garage and looked out at the glittering lights of tall buildings--in the not too distant future (but hopefully not in my lifetime), these buildings will be underwater.  Future generations can swim amongst the ruins.

I'm thinking of the last lines of Shelley's Ozymandius:

"'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."

I will spend the day thinking of a poem that combines air travel and the idea that future generations can swim amongst our skyscrapers.  Yes, I shall.


rbarenblat said...

The image of future generations swimming among the ruins is incredibly poignant.

Kathleen said...

Ah, you got me in my heart!

Lida Neira said...

I hope it doesn`t happen in my lifetime either....scary ... but your writing style keeps me engaged......