The Amazon Rainforest Burns Away And Hardly Anyone Seems To Care…

When Notre Dame caught on fire and was in danger of burning down, the world reacted in sadness, billionaires swooped in to save the day, and repair became imminent. Yet even though the Amazon rainforest is now burning at a rapid rate and is something that most definitely affects our global ecosystem, hardly anyone seems to care, especially those who have ample money and resources to do something about it.

Frankly, I’m amazed at how very little people seem to care these days about preserving and protecting nature. I’m sure many have no idea that 10 to 20 percent of our world’s oxygen supply potentially comes from the Amazon rainforest. Can you imagine a world where our oxygen supply has depleted so much due to us not caring enough about nature and because of it, everyone now struggles with something as simple as breathing and oxygen has become a commodity that only the rich can afford? I’m sure the idea seems quite preposterous and sounds straight out of the pages of a future science-fiction book or movie script, but is it really that hard to believe that something like this can happen in light of what we are seeing happening all around our planet?

Glaciers are melting, various species of life are disappearing, the planet continues to experience the effects of global warming, solely because too many of us keep on polluting it and too few of us are doing enough to make a dam bit difference. Everywhere I walk, I see tons of trash strewn on the ground. People eat their fast food and then leave it in parking lots next to where their cars were parked. Empty drink containers commonly get tossed out of windows from moving cars. And let’s not forget all those cigarette butts that get left behind in the environment, which I’m sure for most of those who smoke, they have no idea that each one of those they toss is going to take anywhere from 18 months to 10 years to decompose.

But why care about all this when the consequences of our own actions in the environment isn’t affecting us right now? That’s at least what the ego’s answer is to all this isn’t it? Selfishness and self-centeredness are driving people to litter and burn our world away and no one seems to be blinking an eye. Yet, people seem to care more about a man-made structure like Notre Dame burning down, something that wouldn’t have impacted the everyday living of the rest of the planet, where millions and millions of dollars is still donated to fix it. The priorities people seem to have on this planet feels outright ridiculous these days.

While most of us probably don’t have the ability to make much of an impact on the burning Amazon rainforest other than donating a small amount to a legit organization dedicated to preserving it, there is plenty we can do much closer to home. Reduce, reuse, and recycle is the tagline that’s often used for guidance in this. And let’s not forget that we all have the ability to pick up trash when we see it. How often have you come across some trash that’s left on the ground somewhere in our environment that we ourselves could pick up and drop in a receptacle that’s mere steps away?

There will come a day when the impact of us not caring enough about our environment, as much as we do about the material worldliness of this world, is going catch up to us. If we allow too much of our rainforests to get destroyed, if we pollute too much of this planet, and annihilate too much of our natural ecosystems, there’s a good chance that those dystopian science-fiction novels and films will come to fruition, which I pray that if that day ever comes, I’m long gone.

In the meantime, I’m most certainly going to do my best to try to prevent that from happening and it starts by being more mindful of my own contributions to waste, by reusing what things I can, by recycling the things that are recyclable, by picking up my own trash and even contributing to picking up others, and making a small donation to a legitimate organization that can help the Amazon, which include The Amazon Conservation Association, the Amazon Conservation Team, Amazon Watch, Rainforest Foundation US, Rainforest Trust, or the Rainforest Action Network.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

The Funeral That Was Actually A Celebration Of My Dear Friend Keith Genest’s Life…

This past week I was in the Pittsburg, Pennsylvania vicinity for my close friend Keith Genest’s funeral. While funerals are often thought of as somber occasions, I decided it felt more like a celebration of his life instead, and maybe that’s simply because so much of the service itself was far different than any other funeral I’ve ever attended.

Right off from the onset, sitting there in the very large and extremely modernized St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church in Lower Burrell, waiting for the service to begin, I was amazed at how the inside of the building reminded me more of a fundamental Christian church given its huge half octagon set of pews, a hefty section for the choir and live band, and the massive video screens that hung over the pulpit area showing pictures of my friend Keith on them grinning and holding an extremely sizable Dunkin Donuts coffee cup.

It didn’t take long for me to see that this funeral was going to be far different in a good way, shortly after sitting down, when a gentleman kicked things off by singing “I Can Only Imagine”. I got a ton of those spiritual goose pimples during it, because wow, could this man sing and move the masses! Not too long after he finished, I was pleasantly surprised that the first reading was taken from The Book of Wisdom, which is from the Apocrypha. For those who don’t know what that is, the Apocrypha contains a set of controversial Biblical books that are not included in the versions of the Bible that most churches use these days. I have to admit, I found it kind of funny watching people squirm in the pews around me, scratching their heads, and asking each other what the Book of Wisdom was. If they only knew just how much more knowledge was beyond those standard pages of the versions of the Bibles they normally read, I think their minds might actually explode!

I was so thankful that Keith’s sister Michelle asked me to do the second reading, which came next and was taken from a chapter in 1st Thessalonians. Although it was a passage from those standard versions of the Bibles most people read these days, it still nonetheless was an interesting selection to read and pleasure to enunciate, mostly because it included a reference to the archangels, something people often forget exist.

I think I was most impressed though with how the Priest handled the main part of the service, as his message was not the usual boring one that I always seem to hear at funerals about how the person will be missed and blah, blah, blah. Instead, he shared a story titled “Five More Minutes”, which was about a kid and their father hanging out at a playground where the kid kept asking for five more minutes to play and the father kept on granting it. When asked by another parent in attendance why he kept doing that, seemingly giving the kid full control, the father simply said he’ll never have those five minutes again and soon the kid will be off in college, never to be seen on that playground again. The Priest correlated that to how Keith was, and how Keith up to his very last breath gave the most to those he spent each of his five minutes with. Ironically, I’m not sure if the Priest really even knew Keith, but that truly was how Keith lived his life with anyone he spent it with.

I must say that the most moving part of this service came right after the sermon and was something that hit my heart quite deeply. It was when the same gentleman who sang “I Can Only Imagine” sung “Ave Maria.” I felt so much of Keith through every inflection that came out of his voice. His vibratos moved me so much that I found myself looking around the pews to see if maybe the veil might drop for me somehow where I could see Keith sitting nearby smiling at me like he always did whenever we were together.

When it came time for communion, although I know I’m not supposed to do it in a Catholic Church because I’m not Catholic and also because I’m gay, I did it anyway, because I believe Christ welcomes everyone to the table. And honestly, I’m glad I did. Because the prayer I said afterward kneeling on that bench, as I slowly took the last bit of the bread of life into my body, stirred my soul with great tears of joy and love for my dear friend Keith who I will always miss.

The closing eulogy was a fitting end to a funeral that never really felt like a traditional funeral from the start. It came from one of Keith’s old government bosses who spoke with zest and invigorated zeal about how much Keith made an impact in his life and everyone else’s on his team. The “Gentle Giant” he described Keith as was totally spot on, as Keith would never hurt a fly and yet his 6’6” stature and booming voice usually seemed to intimidate just about anyone at first glance.

After the service was over, I didn’t find myself crying tears of sadness, like I normally would at funerals of past. Rather, the tears that fell were ones of joy where I was reminded of how blessed I am from having had a 20-year friendship with a guy who always stuck by my side no matter what. Touching his urn of ashes and staring at his picture next to it before I left, I said my final goodbyes and asked for Keith to wait for me in Heaven so that I may get one more huge embrace from him again.

So yes, Keith’s funeral felt more like a celebration of his life, instead of a typical somber occasion, and honestly, it’s my deepest hope that when the day comes for my passing, that the service held on my behalf will end up being hopefully equally as uplifting as this one most definitely was…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

My Upcoming 30th High School Reunion

I wanted to impart some final thoughts about my recent visit to my hometown, Poughkeepsie, New York, chiefly in reference to the fact that I just learned that next year will be the 30threunion of my class of 1990 at Arlington High School.

Overall, I don’t have many fond memories of my high school years in my hometown, save the exception of my senior year, which only came after I put myself through a radical change in my dress attire, my overall style, my hairdo, abruptly quitting the swim team, and then immediately joining basketball intramurals. Even in light of that, I still wanted to show my partner Chris where I spent my schooling between the ages of 14 to 18 because it was a formative part of my younger years.

Honestly, it’s hard to fathom that it’s been almost 30 years now since I last walked through the doors of Arlington High School. While my senior year was far different than all of my prior years of grammar school, notably because of that chameleon-like transformation and also because it’s when I started to pick up heavy drinking, the likelihood is that you won’t find me attending my 30threunion. Why that is, well, it’s more than you probably think.

Of course, first and foremost, is what I already said, that I really was a nobody in high school, at least in reference to others throughout most of those years. There isn’t a single person today that I have any regular contact with from high school. Sure, there are those I’m friended to on Facebook, but beyond that, I just have no deeper connection to anyone anymore from those days.

A second reason why I wouldn’t attend is that I did attend my 20th, only to stay for about an hour and feel the entire time just like I did throughout most of my grammar school years, that being invisible. I still saw those who were once considered “cool” hanging with each other, and those who fit more into the class I once did, the “geeks, nerds, etc.”, be off by themselves. I still tried to mingle and carry on conversation anyway, but I just couldn’t relate, which brings me to my 3rdreason.

Not being employed, dealing with health issues, and my only point of interest in my life is my writing and speaking in my recovery world from addiction, doesn’t make for much good conversation at functions like this. The first question anyone seems to ask at a reunion beyond where you might be living now is what you do for a living. Sometimes I think it’s all an ego show at events like this, where people want to feel better about themselves, especially if they have gone on to do things they perceive are great.

Last, but not least, is the notion that frankly, it’s just too painful to be back in my hometown period. I realized that pretty quickly during my recent trip there and opted to leave a day early because of it. It’s not that I have any unresolved traumas or anything of the sort there. It’s simply that the Poughkeepsie vicinity itself reminds me constantly of painful times. I think that if I was to ever return there again it would only be if my sister decides to go for one last visit herself, as I’d like to create some closure with her. Our last visit there together was to deal with my mother’s passing and truthfully, I was a total mess who acted out terribly in addiction during it, and made her life a living hell.

So yes, I probably won’t be attending my 30thhigh school reunion, nor heading back to Poughkeepsie, New York, any time soon. Yet, nevertheless, I’m still thankful that I had this recent trip there to share a little more of my past life with Chris, who really did appreciate and get to understand me much better because of it!

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson