How we got here is important information. But it's how we move forward, gathering what we've learned, cradling our empathy and carrying our compassion on our backs that dictates how we (all) will live from here.
It's so easy to fall into despair. Hell, easy? Try tempting. It's so tempting to fall into despair, so tempting to give it up and lay down, pulling the soft earth up over our heads to wait for the next incarnation. It's tempting *because* it's easy. It's hard to get up in this current world, to stand up straight, to eat enough, not drink too much.
But we have to. We have to get up. We have to take care because despair is as infectious as the flu and far more dangerous. We have to build our immunity through good friends, good family, good food, good air, good sun, good moon, good winds, good tides, good salt, good earth.
Here's the thing--and I'll keep telling myself this until I remember to believe it: I have to trust that we chose this time. We chose to be born into these generations because we have the skills, the artistry, the talent, and the compassion this period needs. We are compassionate warriors. We refuse to fall into the altered state of fear, no matter how much the pus...
It's so tempting, isn't it? To just set down your heart and walk away? It's so heavy these days, so full, so cumbersome to haul around and still hold a normal conversation, a normal workday, a normal interaction with those you love. It's so easy to wish for a light and airy ribcage, one that will let you dance the way you used to, breathe the way you used to. There's a longing to once again be mothered, fathered.
But perhaps that's why the heart is suddenly so dense--it is pulling us to earth, gathering us in, returning us to the mother, to the father. It is a cosmic hushing, a warm compress to the forehead, a tucking in of blankets, a pulling of shades, and a whispered hush to rest now. The illness will pass, but we need to gather strength to see it through.
We can be so much more destructive to ourselves than any outside force. I really believe that. Here's the thing--someone can do something to us once, twice, countless times for years, but there are moments we have to ourselves. And how do we spend those moments? Reliving? Rehashing? Pulling up destruction even in our longed-for breathing room? I don't know. I don't know how, safely, to discuss this sort of thing, these dangerous waters.
But I do know that I've met people who have survived the unthinkable, the unendurable, and yet they endure. And yet they teach, they hope, they believe, they create, they love. If that can be true, and if they can be here and living and breathing and open and receptive, then surely, surely we can, all of us, make it.
I have to think of this current political, bigoted, ego-inflated madness as just another growing season--albeit, one especially fraught with mites, cutworms, squash borers, cucumber beetles, cabbage moths, mosquitoes, ticks, and blackflies. Oh, hell. Let's throw in the brown-tailed moths, too, while we're at it.
Those things suck. They're a royal pain in the seat of my favorite ten-year-old gardening jeans, and they almost drive you mad with their whining, biting, and seemingly bulletproof immunity against anything from weather to neem oil to falling temperatures to pure farmer-fury. Yes. They suck. And the only thing for it is to pull on the dorky mosquito netting (again) and go about the business of living, swatting, and counting small victories.
But here's the thing, Petals: their season is a hell of a lot shorter than ours. We are savvier, healthier, and bigger, goddammit, than those bloodsuckers and we have outlasted worse summers than this. The frost is coming and...
Impotent. I know that's how we all feel right now--helpless and raging, disturbed and bewildered. All I can say is that we've been here before. Not us, necessarily, not my generation or even the one before, maybe, but our people. Each one of us can trace our lines back to someone who was targeted, victimized, harassed, hurt, sacrificed, tortured, run out of their land, their homes, burned out, rallied against, destroyed. It's heartbreaking. More than that, it's ugly, malicious, unconscionable, revolting, vile, depraved, and so utterly unfair.
It's impossible to believe that this kind of hatred still exists, despite the lessons that history has set up for us, that we've refused, apparently, to learn. It's impossible to resolve oneself to this shift in power, to feel so bloody helpless in the face of such wanton violence.
Because it's almost impossible to fight random acts of terror. Because it's almost impossible to find a foothold in the mob mentality of lawlessness. Because...
But the good news is, they can't either. Not on our watch.
And yes, this is about reaction and action, but the work we don't necessarily want to do (because, at the very least, it's unpleasant and frightening), is to put on our Indiana Jones hats and infiltrate as objective observers.
It's that 'objective' bit that hangs us up, I know. But, I think, it's about assessing without emotion first. In order really to see what the opposition is reacting to, we've got to kick central casting out of our brains. Then and only then do we have any hope of real, lasting, *educating* change.
Yes, yes, absolutely petition those who represent us, who are supposed to represent us, march, show up--do that work. Do that work now. But after that work, do a little digging. We can only change minds through two things: listening and releasing (real or imagined) fear (we call this, by the way, education).
This is the hard work of action, following reaction...
Just think about it for a second. What if, whenever you came into contact with someone today--friend or stranger--you paused, really looked at each other, and then either said (or didn't say), the simplest, kindest, most transparently honest thing warranted by the situation? What if we really meant it when we asked how another was? And if we didn't care to ask? We just remain silent, taking a moment to acknowledge this human's right to be here.
Just think--no more games, no more omissions, no more gilded truths, just honest congratulations, honest joy, honest sorrow, honest envy, honest grief. What if we shared these moments with each other? Or, if not, what if we just shared them with ourselves? What if we called a joy a joy, and a kick-in-the-pants-bummer a bummer.
Maybe it's not okay. Maybe it is. How do we know until we just sit for a minute--no technology, no distractions, no flashing lights or sound clips, no headlines, ideologies, or assumptions.
I think, when we remember, we can focus our days before even getting out of bed in the morning.
It's like this: I have a favorite setting on my super-fancy camera that allows me to focus on a tiny detail in the foreground, putting the rest of the frame in telescopic softness. I love that. I love that so much that sometimes I just sit for minutes at a time, focusing on different details, washing out others, and watching how that shifts my entire feeling about the landscape featured in the viewfinder.
We can do that with our days, too. You can tune ourselves to focus on compassion or love, if you have the brain for it. Or for shiny objects and light if, like me, you can't keep a concept in focus. This isn't avoidance or head-in-the-sand mentality. All that stuff is still there, but have you noticed how much we focus on negatives to *the detriment* of what is good and light and strong?
On the contrary--this is good armor. And, at least for me, suiting up is becoming more and more nec...