Dear Seamus and Tuva,
You are now roughly the age I am now, and the world has, no doubt, changed in ways I can only imagine sitting here in 2016, about to start another year of teaching middle school English. Ahhh. Accept… accept…accept…
It’s exciting to think that you might be reading this, thinking about your own children. Please tell me you see each other (and us) often, like once a week. Okay, that you at least make your best effort.
As you remember, Mama and I encouraged you to be stewards of the earth, but really, you came onto the planet with forceful ideas about our environment and all life. There are few days that go by that I don’t think about the unbelievable collective denial from which human beings are still consciously suffering. It scares the shit out of me that so many people are aware of the now irreparable damage we’ve done, and still choose to act as though via Magic, all catastrophes will simply not happen. That’s some extreme nihilism. But you two have never been like that–never. Even at 6 & 8, you are often incredulous when you catch wind of some idiotic piece of news detailing policies or speeches in which corrupt people are saying and doing craven things in the name of their corporate sponsors.
Shay, I think it gets you down, even though you won’t tell us what’s bothering you. Tuva, you usually tell us exactly what’s pissing you off, and I expect before there is really good news on the environmental front, we’ll have plenty of opportunities to hear about your dismay as you become more aware of the struggle to save our species and preserve the integrity of our planet.
So it’s 2050. If the good people are winning the greater struggle, fossil fuels are a shamefully long chapter of the past, and there has been a full scale awakening to the need for only renewable, clean energy. I can only imagine how that has impacted the struggle for peace. I’m guessing water is now the big issue–maybe you’re got that figured out with cheaper desalination. Are you eating animals? I would guess not. Are you optimistic about where it’s “all going?” I hope so. It’s been hard to love you so much, to be so excited about your sheer life-forces from your first days on the planet while knowing that the actions of most people could cause your futures to be something out of Cormac McCarthy or any number of dystopian scenarios.
What are Mama and I doing about it? You remember how it was (is). We can’t afford an electric car, nor do we have a space to charge one, so we burn the earth’s blood and feel shitty about it. But you also remember that we live very simply. True, we don’t have too many options, living month to month under the strain of massive debt, but we have found much greater happiness in truly preferring a small space, a simple life of enjoying each other. Obviously, via the great sloth of our democracy, we support any and all greening measures, and we can’t wait to be able to unplug ourselves from all fossil fuels, but I hope this first intentional way of life is what you remember. That living for the enjoyment of your family, friends, your talents, your work in the world, for the world, is the place to put your energy. Living with that purpose cannot possibly leave the earth worse than you found it. Leave it better. Cleaner. More aware. More alive. And that’s really it. The old campers’ code.
I hope with all my heart that you both have the option, the luxury, the privilege, to look out on the world and ask yourselves, “What do I want to do?” Then do it. I love you so much. I hope I’m still around for you to call up after you read this and let me know how you’re doing right now, what you’re considering, where you’d like to go, what it was like to get a note from your old man from 34 years ago, and what you see in your futures.
p.s. I just asked Mama if she wanted to hear this letter. She answered with a resounding NO. At this point she’s feeling very emotional about you both growing up–of course I agree and share that feeling, but this is how I show it. I hope you don’t mind.