I (suddenly) march with the people for the climate.

21 Sep

I spent the morning using every trick in my arsenal to avoid the parade.

I adjusted the start time and pick-me-up point to ensure smooth sailing for a tour of forty visitors from the UK. I avoided the Upper West Side at all costs. I ended the tour early. I was largely successful until we returned to a midtown that had effectively turned into a parking lot by noon. The last half hour simply getting to the Top of the Rock was a logistical nightmare.

I ferried the fearful forty across a sea of humanity at 50th and 6th, fielding cries smothered in the working-class dialects of Birmingham and Brighton, a few Welshman from Cardiff thrown in for good measure just to make things completely unintelligible.

Having disposed of my charges at Rockefeller Center, I decided to take a few moments and watch the 400,000 people pass by who had made my life so damned difficult. Damn them all.

What struck me immediately was all the beauty. We are a beautiful species. And no one, not one, had made the slightest effort, everyone looking like they had just rolled out of bed and put on a sensible shoe to climb a mountain and go camping. We have spectacular hair, all of us, even those whose follicles have migrated from the tops of their head to their forearms, yes, today was a celebration of the majesty of hair. We age defiantly. People who could barely walk did so anyway, driven as they were by purpose. And every wrinkle on the “Grannys with a Message’s” crinkled faces was a line of deep wisdom and grace.

There were seniors in wheelchairs and teenagers on skateboards, toddlers in carriages and hundreds on bicycles. Some of our brothers were missing limbs, one one-armed man played the euphonium. Some of our sisters were gently pushed from behind, the one who closed her eyes and drank in a sudden sunbeam is burnt into my memory.

An hour passed and the cynic in me ran his course: Where did all the paper for these signs come from? What sustainable energy are you all using to get home? What good is a march anyway? To what end all this? I am not happy in the least lately and I allowed my unhappiness its full fury. Stand in the way of my wrath and I will cut you down with darkness. How sad.

But in the face of all this beauty, my sadness softened. Hundreds of thousands of people were passing me by and all of them were so peaceful. More accurately, they were all so full of peace. Some sang, some strummed guitars, some shouted, sure. For the most part, though, it was a mild and lovely afternoon of organized chaos. And as I looked up and down Sixth Avenue, for as far as I could see, the thing I did not see, anywhere, under one single foot, was one single piece of trash, not one flyer, not one discarded water bottle, not one lonely pizza crust. I had never not seen anything like it. These were 400,000 people who embraced their ethic, lived it, and their enthusiasm and commitment melted my hard heart.

Before I could stop myself, I was barreling over a barricade and into the sea. I marched alone in a crowd, down Sixth Avenue and onto 42nd Street. A few avenues over, I ran into some wonderful women in my life, Jennifer and Nancy and my new friend Penny. What a perfect surprise to find people you know in a crowd of anonymity. An iceberg snapped off a forgotten part of my self. This is why we march. To connect, to reassure one another we are not the only ones who care, to engage the lonely guy on the sideline, him over there, forgotten only to himself perhaps, perhaps to inspire. My friends and I chatted of this, and wondered, and laughed, and then I left them at 38th Street.

I decided to walk back through the parade to see more of the faces that inspired me, the fiery eyes we all have when engaged with one another and the universe. An hour later, I had walked back to the end of the parade. And I kept on walking back into my life.

Today, I was reminded I must try to come out of myself a bit more, leave my apartment that afternoon I don’t feel like it, observe the world maybe a little less once in a while and just jump over a hurdle and into life, into the water, dance down a street, love a little harder even when it hurts, go ahead, (sweetly), march in the parade and when the parade is for the planet, for everything we share with every living thing, my goodness, what better reason could there possibly be?


11 Responses to “I (suddenly) march with the people for the climate.”

  1. Sherry Robinson Svekis September 22, 2014 at 11:32 am #

    Brilliant and beautiful.

  2. Richard Daybell September 23, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

    Great piece.

    • NC Coot September 23, 2014 at 8:13 pm #

      I really appreciate that, Richard. So kind of you.

  3. ruth steck September 24, 2014 at 12:08 pm #

    This is wonderful! Thank you. You got it just right, how it was. Thank you.

    • NC Coot September 24, 2014 at 7:24 pm #

      Thank you so much for writing! Glad you were there!

  4. Madie Hodges October 15, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

    Hey! I have a question about your blog. Could you please email me when you get a chance? Thanks!

    • NC Coot October 16, 2014 at 8:55 pm #

      Certainly. How does one email you?


  1. When the World Seems Too Much, It Is Always Enough | Between Roots and Wings - September 22, 2014

    […] cynical, my friend over at The Necessary Cruelty found himself in the midst of the march today, and writes about his experience far more eloquently than I have here, though it would seem we took a similar emotional journey, a […]

  2. When the World Is Too Much | Between Roots and Wings - September 22, 2014

    […] cynical, my friend over at The Necessary Cruelty found himself in the midst of the march today, and writes about his experience far more eloquently than I have here, though it would seem we took a similar emotional journey, a […]

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