It’s been a ridiculously long time since I have posted; apologies to all who may actually have been following what I’ve been doing. April 20 changed everything in the Gulf of Mexico region, and since then I’ve been back and forth from the Outer Banks to New Orleans several times, trying to keep my business and home on the OBX running smoothly while taking whatever available time I have to cover the crisis in the Gulf for the New York Times. It’s a huge, sad, sprawling, infuriating story, and the Times has been circulating reporters in and out of the region since the beginning, trying to keep us all from getting burnt out. Were I living in New Orleans full-time, I’d probably be severely depressed by now. That being said, while the city shares a deep concern for the crisis, it is not overtly suffering from it. The real damage lies to the south, east, and west, where an entire way of life is under siege, and a vast ecosystem is suffering a deadly blow.
I’m going to save my opinions and rants for my friends and colleagues and random folks I might strike up conversations with in bars and while on assignment. We’ve all seen the news and the video footage and heard the ever-fluctuating stream of statistics and spin. We all know this is a huge disaster. We all know there was criminal negligence and an inexcusable failure of government oversight. We all know that BP is trying to cover its ass and is failing on all fronts–from capping the well, to containing the spill, to managing its own ridiculous PR campaign. I can tell you a few stories about how I’ve been run off by this or that “official” once it was known that I was with “the media”…I could go on about how this entire decade has been a series of major revelations about government incompetence and corporate corruption–and yet what would it do? Would it stop the oil from gushing? Would it stop the turtles from washing ashore? Would it stop the marshes from getting suffocated, or the birds from dying, or the toxic dispersant from getting spread all over the Gulf of Mexico? Would it bring the shrimp and the oyster beds back? Would it bring back the 11 men who died on the Deepwater Horizon?
Not that there is nothing to be done. As a matter of fact, so much needs to be done, and were this country run differently, maybe there’s something you and I could do other than fume and cry and bitch and moan. Unfortunately, most of the relief effort is tightly controlled by both the government and BP, so there’s not much for your average concerned citizen to do, other than hope and pray for the best. And write your congressman, and stage a protest or two.
I am not a religious person, and not one given over to prayer. And yet, it’s situations such as these when I realize why people pray. When you feel helpless, there is little more that you can do. And if you pray hard enough, it can sustain you, keep your soul alive, keep your hope alive. So rather than going off on Obama or Tony Hayward or the MMS or any number of responsible parties, I’d just like to send out a humble prayer, to all the souls whose lives have been adversely affected by this catastrophe. May you survive, may you thrive, may you remain strong through what seems like a hopeless situation. And those of you who have lost your lives, may your souls find peace and rest.
Most of all, however, I would like to pray for Our Lady the Sea, the bountiful provider, from whose waters we have taken sustenance for millennia. She will survive this catastrophe–it is not the worst she has faced–and she will still be around long after the nuisance of our existence is wiped off the face of this planet. But we could at least show her a bit more gratitude than this. Could we not? If you live in a place where the water is clean, maybe you could make it a point to show your gratitude. Maybe you could take time this summer to offer up thanks for the miracle of water. Jump in a lake, play in the ocean waves, go sailing out on the bay, take your kid fishing. And take a moment to sing a song, hum a tune, say a little prayer…whatever moves you. It won’t bring back the oyster beds in the Gulf, but maybe it will remind you of our primordial connection with water, of which we are predominantly composed….maybe it will remind us all what’s important in this world, and what is worth saving.