Today, the oil is on the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain. It spreads like ravaging cancer now. We know now that tar balls today, without stopping the oil, can mean crude later. It’s beyond heart breaking. It’s day 80 and the only thing that’s certain is that the sun will rise tomorrow and the oil will continue to flow. This is a marathon, not a sprint, so I have to start focusing on the sun rising and find a way to believe that this could get better.
Yes, I’ve lost faith almost entirely, but I will not go gently. I’m going to fight to find a way to believe. When I moved to New Orleans, the Saints were on an amazing winning streak. Houses, cars, t-shirts, etc. all over town, read Who Dat, many said Bless You Boys, and my favorites said I Believe. I realized in that time that nothing can materialize if you can’t even imagine it happening. First, you have to be able to picture it happening and then find it within yourself to believe that the impossible is possible. The people of New Orleans declared that they could see it happening. They decorated homes with images of hell freezing over or pigs flying to joke about the ridiculousness of believing it could really happen, but they let themselves picture it, see our boys taking the field at the Super Bowl. At that point, not many of us even thought about them winning, we were just seeing them Finish Strong, the logo that belied our inability to believe we had better chances than the Jamaican bobsled team at winning, but showed we didn’t care.
It wasn’t until we beat the Vikings that we started to ask ourselves if we could picture the Saints winning. When they finally did, where we had screamed and danced in the streets after the Vikings game, we all sort of just stared at each other with open jaws and wide eyes like, “Did that just happen?” Because it was literally a dream come true. We’d all let ourselves picture, at least for a moment, grabbing victory from the ashes and winning the Super Bowl.
But the oil seems far more insurmountable than the Super Bowl did.
Of the 11,000 clean-up workers on the Exxon Valdez spill, 6,700 of them got sick. The average age of mortality for them is 51. Exxon studied the effects of the spill on every animal in the area from clams to polar bears, all animals except 1 – humans, so we couldn’t learn from our past if we wanted to.
BP is burning endangered turtles to death and filling our local landfills with the oil waste. They’ve moved the date of finishing the relief well to July 27th. I thought the explosion happened after BP decided to move more quickly at the expense of safety concerns. It all scares the crap out of me. I no longer believe one word, not one, of anything BP says. Period. Fool me once shame on you, fool me for 80 days in a myriad of ways after getting caught over and over and over, shame on me. And I don’t believe one word the government has to say on the topic anymore. We still have no leader from D.C. overseeing the operation and BP’s decisions and streamlining the chain of command. People went on 3 day vacations while the oil gushed relentlessly. How many gallons spilled out in that time when no one was even busying themselves with this emergency? We may never know because, of course, the numbers increase all the time and we can’t believe new numbers just because they’re new. New numbers don’t mean, “Oh, NOW they’re being honest,” new numbers only mean they can hide less of the lie.
But, today I saw a glider plane on the news that flew for 24 hours on solar power. It weighed the same as a sedan. It reminded me that we do have technology to change, plenty of it. If we can’t run our lives on petroleum, if we have to evolve again as we did when we abandoned the horse for the car, we can do it.
I’ve become very jaded about BP’s ability to handle any part of the spill or clean-up. I want them gone, we’ll send them the bill. And I don’t trust this administration to get any of this more right next week than they did last week. But, I need to find it within myself to at least try to picture something stopping the oil. Anything. I really can’t picture it right now and that’s got to change. I don’t have to trust BP or the government to trust that this too shall pass. I need to picture it passing. I need to believe that it could happen. The Saints won the Super Bowl, anything can happen.
My favorite film, Gone with the Wind (only those who’ve seen it on the big screen can judge me), ends with Scarlett O’Hara remembering that her land is all that really lasts. She decides to go home and that she’ll figure out some way to win Rhett back, “After all… tomorrow is another day.”
It may not be as catchy as, “You complete me,” but it has always meant the world to me. Every time life has been especially tough, every time I’ve wanted to give up or just quit on life altogether, I’ve remembered Scarlett, tears streaming down her cheeks as she decides to believe. I may not be able to do that yet, but I’ve decided to try.