I’m Sorry, I Know My Well-Being Is Bad for the Planet

Underwater trash
Photo by Naja Bertolt Jensen on Unsplash

From the get-go, I did damage: just keeping my four-pound preemie body alive—ordained Leo, but born Gemini—took untold volumes of plastic, chemicals, ill-sourced electricity. Nobody in the late Seventies imagined how persistent our life-sustaining wastes could be, but it wouldn’t have mattered—no hippie parent loved the earth enough to let their baby die. It got worse from there: ear tubes, special bottles, antibiotics. I should’ve been compost, in and out, no strain on this world I can’t seem to love any more nobly than a pig-loving bacon-eater. But behold, in my wake, a personal garbage barge, acres wide, of cast-off toys and straws and diapers and maxi-pads, toothpaste tubes, detergent jugs, synthetic foam couches and pillows and mattresses bilious with fluids excreted in my insistence on existing in a way not wholly unbearable. Even if I went to the woods, to live deliberately, I’d need my pills and steroid inhalers in their eternal petrochemical shells; I’d yet require certain ointments and creams that don’t come packaged in bamboo or paper. I lack the arm strength to chop wood or till soil; can’t breathe smoke; can’t wear wool. I wasn’t made to live rough, and I’m sorry. And now, my divorce—perhaps my worst single sin—means twice the house; twice the gas; twice the everything. Plus, there’s no way in hell that my Ex, with me gone, will recycle. So let me say, again, that I’m sorry. Like most apologies, it’s more for me than you, but still. I’m sorry I survived when nature’s law should’ve culled me. Sorry I couldn’t submit to the executioner’s axe of my bad decisions. Truly the kindest thing I could do for the earth would be to drop dead, and I know it. But what, then, of the human garden of love and art in which I, for all my sins, have only begun to blossom, and beautifully enough that I can’t help but think, “Maybe I almost deserve this”?

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