There are many times we can start over. Indeed, every moment is an opportunity to begin again. That said, I love the kinds of markers on the calendar that mark a beginning.
Rosh Hashanah is one of those moments on the calendar for me.
L’Shana tova to all who celebrate. May the year 5780 bring us all peace, joy, and love.
The shift to vessel
I’m learning to trust what comes. In between the fits and starts of understanding that flow — there is a way that we can experience ourselves as vessels, and there is a way we can experience ourselves as pillars. To feel fixed, structured, concrete — pillars — is to feel trapped as the world flows through and around us as it will. We each have our own way of experiencing this. Lord only knows I have mine. To shift toward the vessel is to shift toward a more direct experience.
Sometimes, life brings us to our knees. And there we have the opportunity.
The opportunity to say: Open me. Help me see how open I am. Help me be alive.
Lives are unique. No one has had your experience. No one will again. And yet, within those lives, we can find patterns emerge. We can behave in the same fashion — again and again and again. We can fail to learn a lesson. We can repeat horrible things. We can find ourselves in the same kind of role. The redux can be endless.
Earlier today, I wrote a piece for this blog. I called it “On Wholeness”. And then I had a thought: perhaps I should look and see what I’ve written about wholeness. I went to the archive and did a quick search. And I found this piece from twenty two days ago!!
Let’s just say that sometimes the redux happens quickly.
One year ago today, I posted a poem. It has its moments.
There are a lot of things floating about. First, on Monday, I wrote a piece called Enough. A bit of behind the scenes here at good ol’ Liberat.es — I write everything into a text file that then gets saved into a dedicated Dropbox folder. Those text files get converted into what is posted on the interwebs by a service called Blot. It’s pretty cool. Whenever I post, get a little notification on my computer that tells me that I uploaded a file called such_and_such.txt. This time I got one that said Enough(2).txt. Can you guess what that means?
Yup. It means that I’ve already posted something called Enough. Not exactly a surprise, but kind of amusing. Especially given that the post I’d originally posted was using a different definition of the word. I re-read what I wrote then and liked the sentiment. The actual bit of writing? Well, it could be better. I may go back and revise it. We’ll see.
What else if floating about? Ah, I mentioned that I would write about the Chelsea Handler documentary of white privilege. I’d like to explore this more deeply, but I’m not sure when that might happen. Here’s what I will say: I’m glad she put this out there, as it may open some people’s eyes to the insidiousness that is white supremacy. There is good that can come of it. However, I was troubled by how much it centered her whiteness, and leaned on people of color for help and explanation. I worried that she tokenized her ex-boyfriend and his family. Her friends. I would love to have seen the conversations that led to them saying yes to do the documentary.
White people, here’s the deal. We have to figure this out. We can’t lean on BIPOC folks. We should be very careful about how we tokenize or, worse (? Maybe? Not sure) fetishize BIPOC folks. We don’t mean to (I believe). And we do it largely because we are flailing. We need help. But we need each other. This is why the folks at Holistic Resistance talk about the importance of reaching to other white people. There are plenty who are further down the path than you and I. Let’s get their support.
One other thing. I had this idea the other day. It was to link what I’m writing today to the piece I wrote one year ago. You know, as part of celebrating the ongoing nature of this thing. I’ll start it here — see below.
I suppose this isn’t much of a catchall really, but I stand by the title.
Last year on this day, I wrote What it takes. And to that I say: yup.
The importance of space
Stress has been on my mind lately. Last week, my partner and I were in the home stretch of pulling together a proposal for a possible client. By the end of the week, I was struck by how much stress I was feeling in my body. I felt wound up quite tight. Right after we submitted the proposa — technically, as we submitted the proposal — I hopped on a bus for Portland to visit some friends. I noticed a significant decrease in the stress in my body on the drive down. By the time I got there, I felt practically none at all.
That all changed this morning for a variety of reasons. All I’m going to say is that the stress is back. I feel it coursing through my system. As I’ve been tracking this today, the thing that keeps coming up for me is the lack of space. Inner-space, really. I find that my inner world is narrow. There is little room for creating something, or for exploring something. It’s as if just about every square inch of my inner-world has been filled. Is this what it feels like to be a phone with no more memory? Probably.
If we don’t have inner-space, how can we be expected to learn and grow? If we don’t have inner-space, how can we process all of the many things that we have experienced? Many of the things I’m describing are probably the very things that are filling up the inner-space. Suffocating our ability to process.
What’s fascinating to me is that we have basically normalized this experience. In fact, one could argue that we’ve constructed our entire society around it. To be stressed is to be human, at least, that’s what we’ve come to believe.
But, like a phone or computer, we can’t actually be fully human unless we are able to process. We need the space. It’s critical.
We need to make it.
Watch this. It is Greta Thunberg’s remarks this morning at the UN climate summit.
She is right. We have betrayed her generation. We have failed them. Indeed, we have failed ourselves. Science has been pointing to what we have been doing to this planet for decades. Rachel Carson wrote about this in the 1960’s in her book Silent Spring for goodness sake. And we’ve done nothing. Sure, we are driving Prius’s now, but that actually makes zero impact.
Charles Eisenstein’s excellent book Climate: A New Story lays out much of the science behind what is really going on. And it’s not pretty. And we need to be much bolder than simply trying to have “clean energy”. We need to look at the entirety of our lives. We need to make some huge changes. Mostly, though, we need to recognize something fundamental: this world isn’t just a place for us to be. And it certainly isn’t just a collection of resources. No. This planet is something we are a part of. It is larger than us. We are just one piece, but a piece with some dangerous capacities. We can see how much we can be trusted with those capacities.
And this: we need to recognize how this is an equity and race issue. Those who are most impacted by what we have been doing to this earth so we can have nice things are largely Black and Brown people. They are also the ones least responsible for the changes happening all around us. We need to see how our indifference to climate change is rooted in our indifference to those people. No, that’s put poorly. It’s rooted in our dehumanizing of them. Our deep othering of them. Our killing of them. It’s part of the racist core that makes up this society. We cannot undo one without the other.
I think that the anger and sadness I feel is probably conveyed fairly well here.
One last thing I’d like to say here: I understand my anger and sadness as a privilege. We all need to see that. Those who are being killed today by climate change (not to mention the systemic racism that is out there killing people hour-by-hour) don’t have this privilege. They don’t have the space for one. And when they show up angry, they are generally shut down and called dangerous.
What is dangerous is the way we have held this. What we have and haven’t done. What we are doing now.
This has to change.