Revisiting something I wrote last year, I’m reflecting on what I started two years ago.
I’ve written less in the second year than in the first. But this time I’m commemorating on the actual anniversary! (And even with a second post).
I’m not going to count how many posts there are. It’s not important. What is important, to me at least, is the ongoing nature of this thing. It’s still here. So am I. What might year three bring?
Happy two years, Liberat.es.
No bright siding here
The world feels like it’s coming to an end. It really does. And perhaps it is. They say that the world is always ending and beginning again. We’ve had many an apocalypse. Many in a lifetime. Perhaps this is just one. Who knows. Regardless, it sure as hell feels like it’s coming to an end. At least to me[^2].
I could list all of the things compounding to make it feel as if there is an ending approaching, but that feels like it would just be redundant. I’ll just name the most recent thing: smoke. It blankets our city, and has for nearly a week. I haven’t been able to enjoy a walk in a while. And I’m one of the lucky ones. My house still stands. My friends and family are healthy and safe. I have income.
Here’s the thing: yes, it feels like the world is ending. And that’s okay. I’m good with feeling that. I’m going to feel it as best I can while it’s here. I’m not going to push it away or search for the silver lining or the silver bullet (to, you know, feel better). I’m going to just let it be here as long as it needs be.
Imagine if we could just feel it all. What might that give us?
A bit on dreaming
I want to write about our capacity to dream, but I’m unsure how to go about it. I’m unsure that my view on it is broad enough. Something’s been moving in me for a little while, and I’m trying to find my way toward it. It’s a message about seeing the world through a larger lens, but I find myself being limited in my own view of things. I find myself afraid that I have too many blinds spots to be able to see clearly what needs seeing here.
Part of this is this view I have that we — and there’s much that can be said about ’we’ — have been losing our capacities to dream. Collectively, we have become more and more narrow in what we believe to be possible, preventing us from actually being able to enter into a conversation about ways to address the greatest challenges we face: racism, global warming, and the inequities of our economic system. These issues are not going anywhere. Without new and meaningful approaches to shifting them, we will be crushed in their path.
Nearly 58 years ago, JFK announced that we would send men to the moon. It took less than seven years to make it happen. It took an enormous amount of collective dreaming to make that happen. We stand at the precipice of multiple disasters, each unfolding before our eyes, and we can’t get movement. It’s not just division that makes this true. It’s also our capacity to dream. In order to get beyond our divisions, we’re going to have to dream our way there.
It’s interesting — that last paragraph is not a direction I’d intended to go. I’m curious to explore it some more. In the meantime, I continue to sit with the inquiry, and will continue to do the writing that’s been calling to me — finding a way into an invitation. I’m beginning to see that the invitee, at least for the moment, is me.
What we make up…
…is how we will experience the world. We all have a position. We all have a bias. We are, afterall, subjective beings. I’ve been listening to Tyson Yunkaporta (author of Sand Talk) quite a bit lately. He’s an Aboriginal writer and academic who brings an indigenous view to the world, in a unique (and dare I say fun) way.
I’m not going to do the work in this moment to go and pull the quotes from his book or the podcasts I’ve been listening to. Instead, I’m going to summarize on a point he makes. That point is something like:
We are not objective beings. We are subjective beings. If we think that we can remove ourselves and our subjectivity from our observations (as scientists seem to claim they can), we are being idiots. We all have a position, and it influences what we see, think, and believe. The sooner we can understand that, the better we all will be.
Not sure how good a summary that is, but it’s a big part of what I’m taking from my brief ‘study’ with this guy. What does it mean to understand this? It means that we can let go of having to be right, and accepting that we are pretty much always wrong.
That’s oddly freeing, if you ask me.
(Anesthesia) Pulling Heart Strings
It’s interesting what gets attached to our sense of beauty and joy. How memories, things we connect to in our early (and formative) years can bring us into a moment of reflection. Well, this is true for me, anyhow.
I found myself a bit surprised by the reaction I had when I got to hear the recording of the San Francisco Symphony’s Scott Pingel performing a tribute to Cliff Burton on the new Metallica Album S&M2. I can remember being blown away by Burton’s solo so many years — decades! — ago. Hearing this tribute actually brought tears to my eyes.
I can’t imagine that Burton had this kind of reaction in mind when he wrote his famous bass solo. But I do imagine that he wanted it to go right to the heart.
Where all good music is meant to go.
This is what was bequeathed us, by Gregory Orr
This is what was bequeathed us:
This earth the beloved left
Left to us.
No other world
But this one:
Willows and the river
And the factory
With its black smokestacks.
No other shore, only this bank
On which the living gather.
No meaning but what we find here.
No purpose but what we make.
That, and the beloved’s clear instructions:
Turn me into song; sing me awake.
What have we been bequeathed? Certainly there are commons we share. And we each have our own inheritance to be with — to be blessed by / to wrestle with / to become.
I asked the circle of men this morning:
What have you been bequeathed…
…that has brought you blessings?
…that you’re wrestling with?
…that you wish to let go…or to pass along?
Sometimes we have been bequeathed a trauma. Sometimes, however, it is something about the way we view the world that we can’t explain. Who are we? How did we become who we are?
It’s easy to want to make this about decisions we’ve made in our lives. It seems to me, when I sit with the poem above, that perhaps there is more to it than that.