A couple came in the shop today and wanted to talk. He had just written (published, perhaps) a book, a spiritual journey of some kind, and they had come to Sewanee on a pilgrimage. Something about his father having taught in the Summer Music Festival. Something about the church. Something about the Writers' Conference.
They said, and said again, "Everyone here is so nice."
"Yes," I said (thinking except for the jerk who hit my car and ran).
"Why?" she asked.
"We're small," I said. "We know each other."
Or sort of anyway.
Earlier, walking the lake, I ran into a woman to whom I've spoken three or four times before. Her dog crashed into the water where I was stooped, shooting a video of a Calico Pennant, newly opened, but so seriously deformed that she wouldn't make it. We talked about that -- about not making it. About the number of dead things I have seen and will see at the lake.
I said, "I ate chicken last night that someone else grew, probably in horrendous conditions, and killed, probably inhumanely. But today I have already tried to save a Banded Pennant who was drowning, stuck in the muck. She won't make it either."
"Yes," she said. "We all make compromises. We do what we can."
But do we? Do we all do what we can? I am thinking of a new article mentioning an old study, completed decades ago, that "found that by the time they are 4 years old, children from poor families have heard 32 million fewer words than children from professional parents." What do we do to help those poor children? What do I do? What have I done?
Ironic. I'm a reading and writing teacher who spends her spare time rescuing Odonates while the poor children in this community, where everyone is so nice, continue to hear far fewer words.
This is the way my mind works (sometimes), and when it does, I am left facing the results of compromises.