Blue-stained Ukulele

I found this draft of a post this morning. I’m not sure why I never finished it or posted it last year. Thanks for this month’s issue of National Geographic (about Yellowstone National Park) for inspiring me. . .

From April 2015:

I’ve been a subscriber to the National Geographic Magazine for a few years now, often binging on issues when I find a pocket of free time. This weekend is the calm before the storm of end-of-the-semester melee that will consume the next two weeks. So I’ve been catching up on the April 2015 issue, which features a moving essay commemorating  the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s death, tracing the route of the funeral procession. was reminded that the coffin remained open for most of the journey.

I finished that article on Friday, leaving all but one article for Sunday, when Maoist militants bludgeon the weakest of India’s citizens with terror and coal and pine beetles kill mighty forests from British Columbia to Colorado. Maybe the spirit of goodness in all of this was found in the salvaged wood, left after the beetles kill away everything else. The blue marks left over make beautiful patterns. Al Gore, apparently, owns a blue-stained ukulele, but I’m not sure to laugh or cry knowing that. Most of the time, the corpse trunks and branches are burned, but it turns out that much of the beetles’ reign is due to the practice of not allowing the forests to renew themselves through fire. That, and the sweltering globe, which we’ve given them so willingly.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and burdened by new knowledge. What I found stranger was that my own sadness was tempered by something like thankfulness. Of course I felt lucky to be safe, comfortable, and privileged, but more so, thankful for the writers and photographers, and for my subscription dollars that ask us to understand that sorrow exists and is as valid and life affirming as its opposite. Thankful that there are words, however insufficient, to make up for the sorrow.

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