Cohesion

There are techniques you can use to wrestle free from an alligator, evade a charging reindeer, an angry gorilla, a runaway camel, and killer bees.

You can survive a shark attack by hitting back, a giant octopus by pulling away. Do not go limp. Try somersaults and aim for the surface. If lobsters escape in the kitchen, it’s okay. You can retrieve them. Use a pot lid to herd and wear oven mitts. Grab from behind. 

There are methods, you know, for discouraging an attack by mountain lion Hold your ground. Do not run. Do not crouch or turn.  If wearing a jacket, open it out to appear larger than you are. 

There are techniques you can use to wrestle free from an alligator, evade a charging reindeer, an angry gorilla, a runaway camel, and killer bees. If there are piranhas in the river, you can cross at night.

You can avoid sinking in quicksand if you carry a stout pole. You can smother a grease fire with baking soda.

You can land a hang glider in a wind shear, survive a riptide, drive in a blizzard, find water on a desert island. 

Name another disaster. I bet there’s a way. But what do you do when it doesn’t come? How do you survive the space between calamities? What do you do with the sudden shattering behind the next breath when the laughing child before you, so suffused in the laughter of the moment, claps his hands to announce, “Again!”

*Ideas for this list were culled from The Complete Worst-Case Survival Handbook, by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht. Chronicle Books, 1999.

For the Birds

“i hope i die
warmed
by the life that i tried
to live”
 –Nikki Giovanni

Image: Regent Honeyeater by Michelle Bartsch on flickr under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No-Derivs 2.0 License

The regent honeyeaters of Australia have been dealing with a serious problem. It started in the usual way––with their massive disappearances, caused by habitat destruction; but this is a different problem, one left to those remaining. Apparently, there aren’t enough mature birds around to teach the young males to sing. The new guys are doing their best, imitating the songs of other birds and sometimes improvising here and there, but the females of the species are listening for some very specific notes. If she doesn’t hear them, mating season can’t go on as usual. The problem is raising alarms among ornithologists worldwide. One solution is to bring some birds in on a sort of contract basis, like visiting professors. Early trials of this method are promising.
 
Humans have a hard time resisting the impulse toward anthropomorphism, zoomorphism, and most other inclinations toward turning a given fact about the natural world around something applicable to human behavior. As one, I can’t help thinking about all the time we’ve ever wasted teaching anyone anything except with the impulse toward song at the center. Doing or not doing this becomes a matter of species survival. Maintaining protected spaces for development and nourishing of song becomes a matter of fundamental security. Maintaining an ecosystem in order to ensure that an emerging song, when it finally surfaces, will not be drowned in a constant din of noise, becomes a matter of painstaking vigilance, as with the protection of any species of newborn life, anywhere.