The Time Traveler’s Lament | 3

I have the curtains drawn, blocking out as much of the day’s light as possible. It seems that today is to be a day that wreaks havoc on my mind and sense of purpose. It is too warm to move, except to get water or the odd snack, and every so often the thought occurs to me that I might instead hibernate my way through this summer.

The world awaits just outside these walls, but I don’t want to acknowledge it. There are too many people, too many sounds, too much light, too much noise.

When I arrived to this year, I did not expect the end of the world to be so — well-ordered.

I did not expect people to work through the calamitous events that served as the harbingers of climate change, though I had heard rumors in my time that this might have been the case. I did not expect people to lament in one breath at the oncoming apocalypse, then strive in the next deny its urgency. “There are more important things to do,” one man told me, “than to worry about the wobble of the moon or the inescapable inequity between us and the new robber barons. I still have to eat. We can worry about them tomorrow.”

And so we kick the can again, watching as it bounces up against a brick wall that lay at the end of the road. Tomorrow came months ago.

I understand though. We have been trained since birth to exchange our labor for money, our money for sustenance. We have been told for so long to let those in charge worry about the big stuff. That they would take carry of it because that was their job, as exchanging our labor and time for money, for basic sustenance, was ours.

And yet here we are, at the inception of food shortages, labor strikes, wildfires, landslides, fiery oil spills, and more. What do we do when money will not guarantee unbroken supply chains? What do we do when the food chain has been so heavily poisoned with the microplastics we created that we find those same plastics again on our plate? What do we do when our money will not pay for a home?

And still we are told to work. Once we were essential. We were heroes! And now we are told that we are lazy and immoral unless we push ourselves — through mental health crisis after stress-related illness — for money that no longer serves our basic needs. We are told to overlook the humanitarian crises erupting in our own backyard, because presumably the same leaders that were supposed to keep us prosperous and well-fed can also be trusted to care for our most vulnerable communities —

I watch from my window, huddled beside my small fan, peeking through the curtain at the dysfunction embedded in the society around me.

I cannot see the chaos from here — the birds are chirping, the sky is a hazy blue. Every so often a dog barks, and there is even the laughter of children. I am privileged enough to be watching the world burn from a sleepy suburb of Southern California, yet I am itching to do something while the most impact we are seeing is shortages in pet food and tissue, “now hiring” signs in every storefront.

Before the storm comes to our doorstep.

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