Let’s return to pace. At what pace might a year move? If we’re not careful, the pace can be set outside — by work demands, or the energies of politics, world affairs, even family. I’ve been noticing this, but didn’t quite realize it. Until yesterday.
I was listening to Rob Bell’s podcast — the RobCast — where he was speaking with Alexander John Shaia on many topics. At some point, Alexander mentioned that he needed to pull over to the side of the road (metaphorically, of course) in order to devote his energy to creating this year. Basically, he said, he had to come to all but a stop so that he could let the things he wants to — needs to? — create catch up to him.
I almost pulled over myself.
I really struck me: wow, it’s past mid-February and much of what I’d hoped to be connected to in this year is floating somewhere behind me. It needs catching up. I need to slow down.
So that’s a focus I’m bringing into my days right now. Feeling back to that. Slowing down. Finding the pace that this year (and this day, and this blog post, and this moment) is asking for.
Working to meet it.
We have a meeting later. We spent hours planning it. Then, in the midst of a last minute conversation, through the whole thing out (kind of) and landed on something quite different. This happens all the time, actually. What were we planning exactly? One way to look at it is through the lens of a kind of inevitability. We’ll get there, we figure, but first we need to go through all of this. What the ‘this’ is may not have any real relationship to the ‘there’, at least not explicitly. Yet, one required the other. Even more, when it’s time to actually have the meeting, the odds that it will end up different than what we came up with are, well, high.
This is actually what I like about the work — really any work.
Planning, well, planning takes us places we couldn’t really plan for.
A poem about the world
This world can be small — as small as we make it. Our lives can be pulled into a tight orbit, preventing the views adjacent to us from revealing themselves. It’s easy to find a story to explain this — to blame one thing or another. From upbringing to temperament to systems to culture. The true story likely lies within the relationships between these (and more). A intertwined complexity that creates and image that binds us to the things we believe to be true. That we believe to be ourselves. But the invitation is aways present — to feel our way into what is right beside us. A constant companion. Take a breath and reach for it — even if it can’t (yet) be seen.
What did you sign up for?
We can never know, can we? There is no doubt we generally believe we know. Indeed, would we ‘sign up for’ many of the things that we do if we didn’t believe we knew what it would entail? But the reality of the world is that things often turn out differently than how we thought they would. This isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s generally true. We are, after all, pretty terrible at predicting the future.
As we stood in our yard in the pouring rain, trying to help our dog calm down enough so he could focus on…well…doing his business, I turned to my wife and said, “how come in all of our fantasies of having a dog, we never included this scenario?” It didn’t help that we are a couple of days into some crazy loud construction on our street that has had him quite worked up. It’s been hard to focus for us — which is rough for a couple of people trying to work at home.
The journey of our dog over these last four years does not map out to what we thought we signed up for. But we love him, so what do you do? I know folks who have this experience with their kids (probably everyone with kids, actually). I know I’ve had it with jobs. Ever had a job that turned out to not be what you thought? Ever find out about five minutes in? This can be true of everything, no matter how small. From movies and plays to concerts to marriages. From a first date to relocating to a new city.
It seems to me that one of the greatest skills that we can develop is to flow with what is right in front of us — regardless of what we ‘signed up for.’ Not to say that we should just put up with whatever is right in front of us. But giving up in the face of it doesn’t make a lot of sense either.
Regarless of how long we’ve been standing in the rain.
We just love that little guy so much.
T story starts with this Instagram post. There are 11 posts in total. Read it, then come back.
I don’t know, but here’s what I read: a story about the truth of the human heart. A story about the decisions that people make when they have no other choice. From deciding to rob a bank to deciding to be good and do right to deciding to escape to deciding to commit your life to love. And to your wife who took your name — Love.
The power of this story is in the ways that the world leads us to these choice points. We all encoutner them. We don’t all end up in situations like this — far from it. But we all end up with choice points that lead us to decisions that are based on the “realities” of the systems that we live within. Many call these “realities” pragmatic or practical. That’s fine. They can seem that way.
They can also be the choice-less choice. The choice thrust upon us.
It’s nice to see what can unfold when a story such as this turns to love. Or, in this case, turns into Love.
The following is a lightly edited version of a voice memo I made to myself on a walk yesterday. I’m finding it point me in the direction that I think some of my work — including what’s in this space — is going.
The heart of things is that I i’m interested in being the most authentic, free, and creative version of myself that I can possibly be. I think that’s a goal for all of us on some level, and it’s the space in which I want to work and want to play with. I want to find a way to liberate myself — I can feel the tears into the surface when I say that — As a means of doing what I can, playing some small role in helping liberate others so that something real, something authentic, something meaningful can unfold in our lives.
There is an awful lot of energy I noticed that gets put into the basic questions of life. What I mean by that is how we survive; how do we subsist in this world that is becoming harder and harder to survive in. Both from a moral and ethical standpoint, but also at the ground keeping a roof over our heads, getting ourselves with the food that we need and the fuel for the warmth. And then there are the other foundational things such as the care and the love that we require — things that are rarely talked about as the needs of everyday folks.
We are surrounded by food deserts. This is a documented phenomenon and something that a lot of folks are writing about doing things about. There’s a lot of organizing happening around this. We’re also surrounded by connection deserts. We are becoming more and more isolated and buying more and more into the idea that somehow that’s our fault. It’s not our fault. It’s a product of the systems that surround us. These deserts — and the systems that create them — get in the way of our freedom. They get in the way of our creativity; in the way of our authentic being. The layers of oppression of the systems of oppression that play a role in this are massive. Economic oppression, racial opression, gender opression, and on, and on.
The ways that our energy is drained towards this need to do this basic human thing, this basic mammalian thing, this basic being alive thing of living, is greatly detracting from our capacity to be creative, wild, free, deeply meaningful, and deeply spiritual beings. There’s a uniqueness to the quality of consciousness that comes through being a human. This is certainly a human centric perspective. And yet, there is something different about us — that that that in itself is undeniable. Different from the other forms of life that have emerged here an our little corner of this universe.
So what does that mean? What is our role? What is our *obligation? Our responsibility to that? These are the kinds of questions that are emerging for me as I explore this generative space. This is a part of how I want anti-oppression work to move through me. How do we — as a means of responsibility — create space for everyone to dip more deeply into our shared humanity? How do we do it through the lenses of the systems that have elevated some of us, and oppressed others? How do we do it with care and love?
These are the questions that are surprising me right now.