Hello Shitstorm, Hello Meatgrinder: Installment #4, We Are Lonesome Animals

By Adam Gnade

John Steinbeck wrote that we “are lonesome animals. We spend all life trying to be less lonesome.” Humans are weird creatures. We’re awkward and unfinished and burdened with a consciousness that tortures us. Sometimes I think it’s a curse being human — all that ambition and distrust and fear. We want to be social but we’re awful at it. We put up walls to keep our neighbors out and we drop bombs on each other and we bully our path to success. And where does that get us? We all die no matter how well we build our shitty towers. Sometimes on the bad days I think: “Good. Done deal. Let us pass from this earth like the dinosaurs and the neanderthal.” Still, as dangerous as we are, humans are also capable of wonderful things. For every blustering Xenophobe or alt-right fascist there are innumerable good people in this world. Sometimes that’s hard to remember because evil always talks louder than good; it trumpets and it stomps and it wrenches the sweetness from us. Still, no matter how hard evil beats the ground with its flail, it can’t snuff out the good. In the center of the worst rages, a new baby laughs for the first time without an oppressive thought in its heart, a woman gives her last bread crust to someone not as hungry as her, a person makes a film about the most marginalized and the whole world listens.

On Sunday night we left the farm and drove to town to watch the Oscars at Laura’s. I love movies but Hollywood is off my radar. Just the same, listening to Tarell Alvin McCraney’s speech for Moonlight’s Best Adapted Screenplay gave me faith. (Especially where he said the movie was for “all those black and brown boys and girls and nongender conforming who don’t see themselves, we’re trying to show you you, and us.”) McCraney reminded me of the sheer goodness of the human animal, the way we transcend our loneliness and horror to do deeds lovely, courageous, and, beyond all else, helpful. Remember that when the gale starts to blow. Don’t lose hope. We are worth the fight.

ADAM GNADE is the author of three books of fiction, Hymn California, Caveworld, and, most recently, Locust House. His series of novels and connected “talking records” are released by Pioneers Press and Three One G. He is also the author of a work of nonfiction, The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Fighting the Big Motherfuckin‘ Sad. Born and raised in San Diego, CA, he now lives and writes on the Hard Fifty Farm situated in the hilly countryside between Kansas City, MO, and Lawrence, KS. He is currently working on a “large and substantial novel about Americans at home and away” with a late-2017 release. His work is available at http://www.pioneerspress.com