There was no power, hot water or communication other than our cell phones, praise the powers that be for that. The night seemed to last forever, with the torrents of rain and wind gusts that at times wanted to tear the roof off my house. Of more concern were all the trees that surround my home; I silently prayed for many hours that one would not fall and hurt us as we became exhausted from the suspense of waiting to see if we would be spared!
We woke up early morning on October 30th, the day after Sandy kicked the shit out of the Eastern Seaboard, especially New Jersey. As the light of day shown through the clouds and the eeriness of a gloomy sky loomed over us, we decided to walk from Paulus Blvd. down route 18 north to the Albany St. exit that connects Highland Park and New Brunswick. I thought as I opened the front door of my house and looked at my front yard and neighborhood, that we had really suffered a catastrophy, given all the downed electric lines, fallen trees and debris everywhere. As we got to 18 and began to walk, I realized that we hadn’t experienced anything in comparison with the devastation we witnessed along the Raritan River.
Of all the horrible things most of us, who experienced the storm, have seen by now, one thing has come back to haunt me over and over again. When the Raritan had swollen beyond its capacity, it threw up a veritable assortment of plastic bottles, cans, different types of balls, condoms, rubber tires and a whole host of other objects that weren’t natural to the river. It brought a strange feeling of foreboding and a memory of a commercial I had seen many years ago when I was a young man. It so happens that there is a clip of that old commercial and I have linked it here:
The tear in the Indian’s eye reveals a message of ecological truths that didn’t seem very important to many people living in the 1970’s, but it was already on the minds of concerned individuals who foresaw the future and decided to bring it to light in the public media of the time, something not normally done in that period.
As we stood on the sidewalk overlooking the Rutgers boat house opposite the Nicoles music building on Douglass campus across rt.18, the sense of eeriness intensified; it was as if the river had purged itself of what it could no longer hold within. We were now the Indian with the tear in our eyes, but the act of dispelling the poison upon us was warranted. It took some help from Pacha’s (Gaia’s) wrath to understand what was shamefully hidden for so long. Standing before the incredible amount of refuse, it felt as if the inconsiderate people in the commercial, throwing their garbage from the moving car on the highway, had done so to us. The great Raritan River, with the help of Pacha, was just saying it was tired of being crapped on/in and wanted to let us know it in a very horrifying way!
Sandy may be one of many children born of the rape of Mother Earth by global climate change, a volatile seed which we helped plant. And, there are many scientists that say that it’s too late to change the harm done. Perhaps this is true, but this possible reality begs the question “Can we individually begin to create a consciousness of personal change to make our transition and that of Pacha less painful?” For those optimists who believe a reversal may be possible, the question might seem more appealing. Ultimately, the answer resides in each one of us, and if you believe that it is your responsibility, perhaps even duty to create ecological change, then let us not wait for Pacha’s pain to impact and influence our decision.
I drove down Rt. 18 on the northbound lane yesterday; there were crews of electricians, trucks, hoes and public workers cleaning up the mess we’ve made. The Raritan looked calm and peaceful. It felt like Pacha was temporarily recuperating from her ordeal. I looked over and beyond the length of the river; I wanted to see if the indian was anywhere in sight, but when I happened to look in my rear view mirror I only saw his tear again in my reflection!