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The Sea

My friend, Jim, took his elderly father to the beach.. The old man sat all day watching the waves and as the sun began to set he said, “It never gets tired.”

That makes me think of this poem by Mary Oliver:

I go down to the shore in the morning

and, depending on the hour, the waves

are rolling in or moving out,

and I say, Oh, I am miserable, what shall-- what should I do? And the sea says, it its lovely voice: "Excuse me, I have work to do."

The sea may never get tired, and it may have work to do, but we’re putting an enormous burden on it. It’s choking to death on plastic garbage.

What can we do about it? When I walk on the beach I try to remember to take a bag and pick up trash. People see me and thank me and I think, “You could do it too.”

But what do I do with what I pick up? I put it in a trash can but can I trust the ones who empty the trash to dispose of it properly? And what’s proper disposal? Whee does it all go?

I carry a reusable bag to the store, and I only buy vegetables that aren't wrapped in plastic but plastic is extremely difficult--actually impossible--to avoid. I’m making a collection of plastic bottle caps with some kind of art project in mind but really that will just eventually end up as trash. I feel overwhelmed.

How did we get here?


painting of plastic garbage, extended product responsibility

"Fat Free Ocean" is by my friend and neighbor, Stephen Hall, husband of my pal, Samantha. You can see more of his work at

He addresses big questions with exquisitely crafted, powerful images in oil paint. You should see what he does with guns.

The question I've been wrestling with and we all should ask ourselves is; why are we using indestructible materials for things we use once and throw away? Because they're cheap? they're not at all cheap when you factor in what they do to the earth.

Midway Island, halfway across the Pacific Ocean, is drowning in plastic garbage. We've all seen pictures of birds who've died with a belly full of plastic crap.

We drink water to keep ourselves healthy and we value its purity but we drink it out of a plastic bottle and then the earth chokes on it.

My Dad used to say, "If everyone picked up just one piece of litter everyday, it would clean up the city. Nice thought.

So I've taken to picking up garbage on the street. Every piece of plastic I see makes me think of what it will do to a fish or a bird. When I see those styrofoam peanuts flying around I can't breathe.

Do you think I'm crazy?

Collage with Pelican, temple, snow covered trees, angel, rising sea levels

June 20, 2019

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