“I was surprised, I looked at the weather for Las Vegas, and it’s not supposed to be hot. It’s going to be in the 70s half the days we’ll be gone. What the hell? We could have gone to the hot springs! I thought we had to wait till fall. I guess this is normal now. The time of predictable weather is over.”
“Yeah,” Ming said. We looked at each other.
“That’s sad,” I said. “Let’s swim away from that thought. Swim swim swim!” I made swimming motions in the air.
Last night at dinner I was asking Ming a ton of questions.
What do you think happens to us when we die?
Is there just nothing? Is there heaven or something else?
Ming said he thinks it’s just over, and anything else is a bonus.
When people say their relative is still with them despite death,
is that real?
It’s all in their head, Ming said.
What about ghosts? Why is there something, rather than nothing?
Do you believe in a God who can hear and respond to prayers?
He said he didn’t think so.
But you pray anyway, I said, to yourself, or hoping a being hears?
Yes, he said.
Do you believe these things in your mind or your heart?
Where do you believe them? Is it logic or just a feeling?
Ming said it was in his chest, a feeling.
If it was logic, it would come from a book.
What book? I asked. Like the Torah?
Yeah, he said.
You’d believe a book? I asked.
Do you think people are mostly good or mostly bad?
Then we started talking about climate change. I saw a photo on facebook of a young person holding a sign. It said: You’ll die of old age, I’ll die of climate change.
I asked Ming if having kids made him more concerned and wanting to do something. He said no, he felt like that before he had kids.
I said, So you see all the children of the world as your children? He said he didn’t think it had to be about children. It could be just for the world.
I asked what he wanted to do about climate change. He suggested some behaviors, and it sounded futile. He asked what I thought about stopping climate change.
I said I thought it was too late. I said that in the industrial revolution, money became more important than anything–trees, love, life itself. They were like, look at this cool thing I can do, and it didn’t matter that they were spewing gray smoke into the air. Money was more important than being able to breathe.
Ming asked if I thought it was toxic masculinity, and I said maybe, that women might be more likely to notice, Hmm, the air is filled with gray smoke. I need to breathe, and my kids need to breathe. Everyone needs to breathe.
I said people could use technology to try to fix the problems caused by technology, like putting the thing in the smokestack to catch the particles. You can try that–but if it’s not profitable, then it’s not going to happen.
At some point, money became more important than anything. I was saying how a tree is sacred, but people would deaden their hearts to that, and then money would be more important than a tree. But you can’t make someone feel that a tree is sacred.
Money became the only sacred thing.
We talked about the invention of cars, horseshit in the streets, how you can’t see the distant future result of your actions. Water, horseshit in the water, what people need to live. Population.
Then I was telling him about tadpoles–when I was a little girl, there was a creek by my house, and people would go see the tadpoles and catch some, bring them home in creek water in a jar. It was fun and exciting.
But then the next day, they see the tadpoles in the jar–what do you feed them? How do you keep them alive? The excited feeling was gone, but the tadpoles were still there.
I can’t remember what that was an example of. Something about responsibility? Nature is no joke, and a being’s life is everything.
I don’t know what will happen to all these people. I guess if there’s reincarnation, I have to come back. I love the world. But in a way, I feel coldly dismissive.
I love the people who are near and try to help the world in my small way. I try to help build community by running the radical mental health collective and helping with the Catholic Worker and Nevada Desert Experience. I want a new world, but I’m weary. I write letters and try to have an open heart, try to enjoy the moment, but I do see doom.
Well, California is a great state, so diverse and beautiful, and I think no matter where I go and what my driver’s license says, California is my home. So I’ll try to enjoy it.