May we accept that we are tiny and brief

Dear President Biden,

I’ve been pretty numb lately, but today the picture of the base of the giant sequoia, General Sherman, wrapped in aluminum got me going.

Have you seen the sequoias? For real, in person? If so then you’ve surely seen General Sherman. I hope so. I hope you’ve had the awesome opportunity to feel your smallness – and your briefness – in GS’s shadow.

And if you’re paying attention to your whole country, you’ve surely seen the surreal pictures of craggy old GS cloaked in shiny, crinkly foil just like you’ve surely heard the news that all of Idaho is currently under a universal DNR order. Giant old sequoias in California are in mortal danger from global warming driven wild fires that are burning hotter and fiercer than ever in recorded history and humans in Idaho (and elsewhere) are in mortal danger because a virus that could have been contained has instead been allowed to run rampant.

But that’s not really what got my tear ducts going when I first saw the picture – it was how pathetic the attempt to protect GS looks. The foil goes up maybe 10, 20 feet but GS soars to 275 feet and sparks jump and flames roar up incredibly high. I suppose the foil is helping someone feel as though they did something, but holy mother of Jesus is this a too little too late deal. And surely there are dozens of too little too late deals playing out across Idaho where unvaccinated COVID patients are begging their traumatized healthcare teams for the vaccine as they breathe their last. 

We are some kind of messed up.

When I was checking to see if General Sherman was a Union General (embarrassing that I didn’t know for sure, but oh well) I learned that of the 32 named sequoias listed in Wikipedia, 26 are named after men (including Confederate General Robert E. Lee) while the others are named for shapes, a type of bird, a mountain, and an Old Testament chapter – nary a woman in the mix at all.

I realize this has been the way of the world for a very long time and that to make a deal of sexist naming conventions has me sounding like a whiny, angry feminist, but damn if it doesn’t all seem part of the same awful ball of greedy, power-hungry, patriarchal wax. Women aren’t all saints by any stretch, but collectively we are way the hell out of balance and we don’t have much time to recalibrate.

May we all be safe.
May we gather the will for a hard reset that values life over profit.
May we recognize that we need strong remedies – not Band Aids – for what ails us.
May we accept that we are tiny and that we are brief.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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