When I first read the phrase, “Stop Ploden,” written so neatly and perfectly in kindergarten script I thought:
Is this a new political candidate?
Who is Ploden?
Why do I need to stop him?
What has he done?
Luckily, the author of said sign was sitting at my kitchen table, eating scrambled eggs shirtless; legs swinging below the table.
“Who is Ploden? Why do we need to stop him?"
“Mom, it is polluting. Stop polluting! Jeesh!”
“Oh yeah!! You right, you right….I see it now. My bad….”
I hung it on the fridge—“Stop Ploden.”
Often, I would walk by and think: it could also be the shortened form of “exploding.” Like, “Stop ‘ploden all over me when you're mad!”
Or, “Why you gotta be ‘ploden when you should just take care of yourself?”
Later in the week, one of oldest and dearest friends called to tell me the happy (and very scary) news of finding her dream house. The details sounded like the miracle she had been attracting through prayer, hard work, and energetic principle: a small old farmhouse, five wooded acres, pond, old barn, space for playing and goats….I could not contain my excitement for her and wondered about the hinged tone in her voice.
“There is just one thing….”
“There always is..” I thought.
What came next was the unfolding of her story: the dream property is a mile and a half from a recovering Superfund site. Already, 600,000 tons of tainted, radioactive soil has been removed from the land only a stone’s throw from the front porch of her dream home. She had already begun her investigation. Up all night. Digging through old land records.
We rattled off the “What-ifs” together over the phone: What if...
the ground water is polluted?
my kids can’t swim in the pond?
I can’t get goats because the grass they will eat will light them up like a bad Simpson’s episode?
I will always be scared to grow veggies in my garden?
I will have to test my kitchen water every month?
I get breast cancer?
The rattling hum of my fireplace in the background, and her sleeping children on her end of the line…we just sat there quietly on the phone. We live in different states now and this is what long-distance love looks like between two grown women: questions and quiet.
“How bad do you want this?”
I already knew the answer. I love her enough to already have known the answer.
“Okay, then. It’s time to get all vigilante on their assess.” My response was reminiscent of the Irish mother who raised me—“If you can’t beat ‘em, and you want it anyway, then you beat the shit out of ‘em.”
Which in the world of grown-up looks like going to every single board meeting there is on the progress of the Superfund clean-up. It looks like stewardship, and activism, and showing up to meetings in church basements and community centers, and neighbors’ houses and bringing the coffee and the children and sitting around kitchen tables and talking, and holding Big Business accountable for ploden all over your land.
As we spoke I thought about the sign on my refrigerator from my five-year old son. He had really nailed it.
Just stop. Stop leaking your damn sewage all over our land and not cleaning up your mess. The five-year old gets it, and so I am wondering when the grown-ups will get it?
My heart ached for her as we hung up the phone.
Dreams tug and wait patiently, and sit quietly, until they just don’t anymore.
They are tired of waiting for you to listen. And each time you feed a little and water a little of your dream, it is just not enough. So one day, they pop out at you with risk-strings attached, because otherwise you would have done this years ago. They ‘plode up in your face and force you to pay attention and make your move.
The risk-strings are cobwebbish, like jelly-fish tentacles....tempting you to continue ignoring the dream because the sting will enrapture you into failing. Or falling. And how do you know when to dive in? To keep moving forward, to hold the vision and trust the process?
Maybe all you know to do is to Stop Ploden. Stop putting things away that you want, and stop pushing down emotions that tell the truth, and stop letting toxic waste run you—and instead investigate. Show up. March. Make a damn sign to remind yourself and hang it on the fridge.