Posted by: MC | March 4, 2012

March 4th has it all over Super Tuesday

I drove into Cincinnati from Manhattan.  How many times will I be able to say that?  Not many.

And it was no minor feat.  I’m guessing this is not the least bit surprising to any of you.  Still, we say these things out loud to one another – partly as a request for validation – a “wow” that fits with the relative enormity of the accomplishment.  The vast majority of Americans don’t drive in and around NYC.  Unless you’re a regular…well…it borders on dare devilry.

But then there is the beauty.

At every turn this trip has revealed the astonishing variety and unique loveliness of each next place.  From the Blue Ridge through N Georgia and the Carolinas, into Virginia Farm Country, through New Jersey – even w/ the turnpike’s notorious monuments to the industrial age interrupted periodically with a contagion of strip malls – and finally into the narrow canyons of the sky sculpting towers on Manhattan.

Today I started driving out of the city at dawn.  Fog draped the skyline, lingering midway down the tallest of buildings.  There were taxis, but fewer than several afternoons ago when I arrived.  The early city traffic moved at a clip.  Something of a collective mind moved us in silken synchrony with traffic lights.  The fog, the timing.  I’d chanced into the commonly mysterious flow of early morning Manhattan and drafted off its intelligence. 

I crossed back through the Lincoln Tunnel, paid more toll in Jersey and Delaware and soon was in the long stretch of Pennsylvania – from the Delaware Water Gap into the hills and valleys of the Allegheny and on to farm country yielding for an instant to West Virginia then decidedly to Ohio.

Because of my approach to Cincinnati, I could not see where I was until I drove through the center of town (at rush hour…) and across a highway bridge to the Kentucky side.  My view of the city behind the Roebling Bridge made me offer my own, “oh, wow.”

By then, I was out of the car and on a walk.  It was just past dusk.  I walked up onto the bridge and a black man coming in the other direction made a wide circle to pass by me.  I said, “good evening” nonetheless.  He echoed the same greeting in return.

Miles and miles of driving across the western part of New England and into the Midwest of our country.  Evidence of wealth, of work, of farming and forestry, of industry and commerce-commerce-commerce.  All linked with stories of millions of American people.  Then this man and I on a bridge over the Ohio River – a bridge of repute because of its grandeur.     Maybe his giving or taking room came out of disgust or a wish to avoid, maybe it was an expression of respect, maybe he didn’t even notice the way his pathway shifted to accommodate my presence.   But likely this man has come to walk this bridge this evening through too many years of messages, spoken and not, that who he is is somehow in need of adjustment – not right – not enough.  All of us get these kinds of messages – some of us get more than others.

People like Rush Limbaugh generate astonishing incomes delivering such messages of inferiority and ridicule.  These public figures push at the edges of indignity to the point that even their apologies are insultingly aimed at advertising dollars.  It’s a recipe that works, though.  Pundits left and right, conservative and liberal, among media and among elected leadership perseverate on sensational statements of disdain yoked as they are to market share, to poll numbers.  We the people serve as audience.  Approve or no, we fuel the fire.

So how does it change?  Will Super Tuesday or any other election in the near future make any difference in the matters most at hand – how we live with ourselves and one another?  The rhetoric seems very far from the lives – the land – the traffic – the people in and on each of these.

Today is March 4th.  It’s the only day of the year, as far as I’ve been able to tell, that is a poem – an enlivening and inspiring command – March Forth!

Mayme Porter, Voice 44, left her body on this day two years ago.  Mayme knew and taught and lived the answer to how does it change?

“To help it happen, you must have it happen,” she said.  “Learning is remembering what you already know,” she said.  And she lived the only way positive and enduring change can be made – she acted with great integrity and love exactly where she was – always.  I know she wasn’t completely flawless, but she held the aspiration toward this responsibility as her primary guide.  She lived what she taught and that made the teaching work miracles.

Each of us can do this.  Each of us can call forward our best at any time.  We can live from our passion.  We can be changed by experiencing the passion and inspiration of others.  We can notice the support around us – from road and sanitation systems, traffic control signals, food growers, teachers, employers, neighbors, families – and we can, in turn, replicate that support.

It can sound pedantic – it can sound simple as a nursery rhyme.  In the simple is the profound.  Mayme knew this.  At some level all of us do.  The complexity of the Roebling Suspension Bridge or the cacophony of media and politicians around Super Tuesday or birth control or whatever catches on next week all arise from original simplicity and, in the end must answer to what is most basic.

We are here in community together.  Bridges actual and metaphorical support our interaction.  Systems of dehumanization that estrange us defeat our interaction and damage community.

What do we want?  How do we follow Mayme Porter’s lead of humility and responsibility lived and passed on and on?


  1. sounds like I would very much appreciate Mayme. Passion and humility – the very stuff off authentic and generative impulses

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