The total far more than the sum


There wouldn’t be an ocean without all the drops, and every drip effects every drop. It’s simple. Two things can’t occupy the same space at the same time, so everything must shift with every movement. And what isn’t in motion? Boiled down, that’s what it amounts to; a drop, a drip, a ripple, a cascade of cause and effect, constantly. But, this airy, abstract jumble of philosophical mumbo-jumbo accomplishes nothing without every drop’s awareness of it and the absolute reality of being a part of the whole. There would be no ocean without all the drops, each and every one of them.

This year alone has been filled with devastation and grief, drawn out and lingering. Where Mother Nature leaves off, our own undoing carries on. Tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, storms slap us around like inconsequential balloons in a bunch, only to be betrayed by the strings that bind us together to scatter in the wind to meet our own demise alone, yet not. It’s not Mother Nature that is our final undoing, but we ourselves. It’s not the stuff out of our control but what we do to each other that drives in the final coffin nail.

She is beautiful, a picture of youth, vigor and intelligence. So young, she is a mother tasked with being the sole provider for her children and the mountainous tasks that she must accomplish to provide well. She is warm, flexible and unbreakable, filled with caring that goes beyond her little world to include everyone. She is taking those first, very difficult steps alone, never letting the thought of failure enter her mind.

He is wrinkled beyond his years, wearing his history and experience around his eyes, convinced that everyone should see him as worthy as he feels of himself. As valuable as he may be, the world will never know it since he uses this value as a wall, a shield against everything outside of his own little world. It’s not his fault there are cracks in his wall that he was so sure could withstand the elements and feels put out that no one will step up with spackling.

Cradling her newborn, her two toddlers run amok, yelling and screaming and running around as she sits passively waiting for someone, anyone to supply her answers as she supplies none to help herself. She is young, pretty and vacant, an innocence gone awry in a horrible, lasting way.

Convinced she is autistic, she struggles to remember the pearls of wisdom dropped on her over the years. She recites the truisms and tries to mold her behavior accordingly and is stumped when life’s normal, usual trials hit her. She was told she is vulnerable and vulnerable she is. And, she is alone. She is alone, even though he stands beside her not committed to her or her needs. Instead, he depends on her to put food on the table.

The common thread here is that none of them have money. All are wondering whether the roof will remain over their heads tomorrow, whether they will have something to cook. Yet, tomorrow comes without fail. Down so low, they may have hit bottom, but maybe not. The thought saps their energy, kills their hope if they think it. Tomorrow is just another day to get through.

Herein is where we have failed, our ocean muddied and murky, the strings that bind us together rotting and frayed. There is no one way to point, no one thing to blame. But, we are all responsible. Every single last one of us, no matter how we perceive the ills of the day.

The total is more, much more, than the sum of its parts. But, the total is far less when some of the parts aren’t operational. Can a car run on three tires? Can a guitar play with five strings? Can a bird fly with just one wing? There is no “us” and “them.” We are all part of the total; we are all one, one ocean.

The breeze stirs not just one of the arm hairs, but many. The breeze becomes a caress, a comfort, soothing the entire body. Be that breeze.
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