Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Best Laid Plans

I'm spending the week with my family in Rockport, Massachusetts, a seaside village and artist's colony on Cape Ann north of Boston. The water, predictably, is scrotum-tighteningly cold. Meanwhile, just south of us, great white sharks are circling Cape Cod, closing beaches and scaring the bejeebers out of anyone old enough to remember Jaws (in other words, everyone). Apparently this has to do with the explosion of the gray seal population, for reasons unknown.

Nature is a strange place. Things happen without cause or warning. Patterns reshape themselves, predictions fail. You congratulate yourself when things turn out the way you expect them to, puzzle over the things that don't. It's probably safer to say that when things do turn out the way you expected, that's the real puzzle.

A good friend of mine from high school, visiting with his family from their current home in Lexington, MA, reminded me that with the onset of global warming, a whole new puzzling logic enters the picture, a whole new future of unpredictability and randomness. We simply don't know what's going to happen in a climate-altered world, if in fact there is to be a climate-altered world. Nature, ever weird, will likely become weirder, but in what ways we can't really say.

Our conversation also turned to end-of-life issues (probably because, just before my trip, I got a call from the local cemetery offering me a free plot. I turned them down because, as I responded to their query, I don't plan to die). But truthfully, since death remains the one thing we can bank on, our conversation made me think about how I'd choose for my loved ones to dispose of my mortal remains. I've always disliked the idea of burial: too much wasted space. But cremation poses its own problems: too much carbon emitted. Hopefully, I won't have to make a decision any time soon.

But of course, the best laid plans....

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