Synchronized Chaos March 2013: Coping with Our Fragility

Readers, contributors, ladies and gents, dancers and twirlers, seamstresses and ruffians, welcome to March 2013’s issue of Synchronized Chaos International Magazine. This month our theme deals with an issue all too familiar to many of us, something common to most life forms on this planet: facing and dealing with our fragility and limitations.

“A pontiff smile veils his disgrace, at never knowing more than second place. ‘Seven wonders’, crowed the man, knowing six are gone, is it any wonder, how the sad confusion lingers on.” — Bluegrass band Nickel Creek

“A todos los que han nacido en un mundo así no olviden su fragilidad (To everyone who’s been born in this world here, don’t forget your fragility” — Sting

Science writer Leena Prasad describes the physical limitation of aphasia in her monthly column, Whose Brain Is It?,  looking into how and why the condition occurs and how losing the capacity for intelligible speech would affect someone’s life.

Poets Sam Burks and Samantha Seto deal with everyday aspects of our fragility, death, loneliness, nostalgia, loss, and heartbreak, through their poetic collections, “Sister Meadow” and “Darkened Moon.” We see the direct lament for a relationship lost, and the emergency-room scene, but also the quiet melancholy of an elderly person touching her fraying quilt and staring out the window, and the bitter taste of unripe persimmons.

We can move from the specific to the general, from the individual to society and life itself, with Darren Edwards’ poetry, including “Sandcastles” and several other pieces. He uses humor, wry observations, and colorful images from childhood, mythology, and popular and literary culture to advocate authentic communication, compassion, empathy and balance. And he pokes fun in creative ways at the bombastic and powerful among us, thus highlighting our human and societal fragility.

The external and social world comes into even sharper focus when we read journalist Martin Rushmere’s review of the Marin Theater Company’s production of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. Often described as a tragicomedy, the play depicts ordinary people who sit and watch the world going by, all the people thinking and learning and hurting and oppressing each other, while waiting for some event they vaguely hope will change everything. Is this all we can hope for as human beings, with our limited understanding? Are we ennobled by the search for meaning itself, even when we never find it? Perhaps we could create meaning, rather than simply waiting.

Political essayist Randle Pink also tackles the force of social conformity in his interview with journalist and broadcaster Dacia Mitchell.  In her program, “This Week in Blackness,” and through private conversations with friends and roommates, Ms. Mitchell explores how racial stereotypes affect our choices. As Ms. Mitchell explains,  our social subgroup membership affects our experience of the world. Sleeping in a public park at night as part of a protest could be very different for a black woman than for a young athletic white man, for example. And if we wish to build a cohesive social movement, we need to address the different challenges and experiences of different groups and individuals within the coalition.

Sara Rodriguez mourns the loss of her friend, whom she refers to as “D,” who passed away at a young age because of some of the same societal oversights Dacia Mitchell critiques. Upon release from prison, D. faced severe barriers to rebuilding her life, and was unable to receive the individual, consistent support she needed to heal psychologically and physically and find stable work. Sadly, although she possessed a strong spirit, kindness, and creativity, she found herself sucked down back into addiction, incarceration, and suicide.

This young woman was clearly fragile, and broken as a result of her life experiences. And, as Sara explains, her death illustrates how we cannot apply a one-size-fits-all paradigm to social problems, any more than we can to race relations or to putting together social movements. We must look at the lives and struggles of those within the system and adapt our approach to fit what we see and learn.

 Yet, in our quest to build a more perfect, just and humane world, we have to remember to care for ourselves and work within our own limitations. We are fragile ourselves, even as we labor to rescue each other, as Lorene Miller rediscovers in her poem, “A Calling Out.”  Unfortunately, living souls, human, animal, or even plant, will suffer in this plane of existence. While we certainly can and should carry out works of compassion and justice, we cannot task ourselves personally with removing all the world’s adversity.

When faced with our inevitable weaknesses, whether physical, moral, intellectual, or psychological, we can attempt to transcend our limitations in various ways. Danish poet Kamila Boegedal draws upon nature and the cosmos to express the depths of her feelings, with the sun and moon as metaphors for the intensity of love and the desire to experience and participate in life. She aims to create her own drawings and not just take part in someone else’s cartoon, and finds she can reach beyond herself with creative writing.

Linda Allen’s short story “Shamrock” invokes the myth of the hero figure to symbolically overcome human fragility. A brave gentleman physically rescues Allen’s protagonist from her cruel, violent family and whisks her away to his native Ireland. Some criticize this kind of  ‘knight in shining armor’ tale for encouraging weakness, reinforcing that all we can do is wait for rescue. But perhaps we can take on the qualities of the hero, become Godot ourselves rather than simply waiting for him.

Synchronized Chaos Magazine’s editors invite you to bring your inner heroism to a reading and discussion of March’s issue and the work of each of our contributors. Thank you very much to those who have helped put this publication together, and please enjoy the issue!