Brokenness

May 4, Greensboro, NC

Something is wrong, or about to go wrong. It’s a fundamental truth, the beginning of wisdom. Everything breaks. In our case, it was a shackle pin.

Who knew trailers had shackles? A lot of people, apparently. Just not me.

There are four shackles, each holding a wheel in place, keeping it from drifting out of alignment. Then suddenly there were three. It’s of academic interest unless your tires begin grinding against each other or an axle is torn free from its mounting.

No life is without adversity. Something is either broken or about to break. It’s not cause for despair, simply a fact built into our universe. Shit happens. Get used to it.

Except that we haven’t gotten used to it. We’re still expecting our plans, our lives, our civilization to last forever. We act without understanding the balance of brokenness.

Leonard Cohen wrote in Anthem, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

Perhaps we would be a less arrogant species and less harmful if we acknowledged our own essential imperfection, our brokenness, and walked more lightly upon the earth. But maybe that inability is characteristic of our peculiar imperfection. It’s a conundrum.

Who am I to say? I’m towing a broken trailer across America celebrating the apocalypse.

Apocalypse Tour

Tomorrow the Apocalypse Tour begins. Hauling two Portuguese Water Dogs, a 16,000 pound trailer, and my wife across the country, coast to coast and return, like water sloshing in a bathtub, seems an ironic way of celebrating the end of the world, at least the impending collapse of human society, but the universe, from all appearances, has a wry sense of humor.

I’m not sure why I’m documenting the trip or why it matters. It’s intensely personal and may be of no interest to anyone else but it feels necessary, a nagging requirement of my humanity, to stand witness to what I don’t understand. And the end of the world is incomprehensible, totally.

The name came from a thread on Positive Deep Adaptation, an online community coiled around the recognition that severely disruptive effects of climate change are unavoidable and societal collapse now inevitable. It’s a surprisingly upbeat community despite the angst about the end of the world.

It’s the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine).

Of course, the end of the world is nothing new. Almost every significant human culture has had a myth about how the world ended. Mostly, it didn’t end well.

It’s not wild men prophesying in the desert or priests maniplating in their temples, not this time. It’s scientists measuring changes in the atmosphere and ice melting at the poles. It’s non-linear consequences accelerating beyond our ability to predict and effects cascading beyond our control. It’s our economy, built on a fragile infrastructure stretched across the globe, vulnerable to the impacts of the changing climate, a Ponzi scheme dependent upon unrestrained growth in a restrained ecosystem. And it’s the size of our population, only partially supported at the best of times and at extreme risk in the worst.

My point isn’t to write an apology for the apocalypse. It doesn’t matter why so much as what and the what is intensely personal.

The Apocalypse Tour is a long leave-taking across the country, riding remnants of the old Route 66, from Carolina to the Anasazi ruins in the desert to familiar places along the West Coast, acknowledging each visit may be the last. No different from any other day in the life, really, but magnified by the greater human tragedy impending.

We may be approaching the end of human history…or not. Jesus hasn’t returned but a lot of people are still waiting.

And me? It’s time to get on the road again, maybe one last not. Time to look at things again, take some pictures, drink some beer, see the world from an apocalyptic point of view.