Shattering

Shattering

I wrote this three years ago and somehow forgot to publish it. Its about to become an essay in my new book Unshaken Wonder, which will reach others in October 2017. I’m posting it here now for my friend Clay Forsberg. In part, in response to his lovely new essay Staying Strong. Stay strong, Clay! You’ve got this…

Shattering

I shattered this year as my family shattered.

My mother has Alzheimer’s disease. My father’s been caregiving for 9 years and his own health and well-being and attitude have taken a hit. My sister and I are care partners for both of them now. My extended family has been in a court battle over my grandparents’ estate for a year and a half. Too many of my once-close family can’t stand each other now. So much anger. Some days I choke on it.

Many in my family won’t speak to each other at all now. Some quietly drifted away. Some cut ties with us because they can’t handle our pain on top of their own. One I cut ties with because after a year of inflexible rage I realized that I was actually talking to a wall, not a person, and so was she. I’ve been told my poetry is experienced by some as bashing the family and that my immediate family is no longer experienced as part of the larger family. Some are certain that their ties are broken forever. Some cry for weeks on end. Those not speaking to each other tend to make wild assumptions about the motives and stories being told by the other side. There are apparently “sides” now and a lot of us don’t recognize that taking sides and creating sides are the same thing. Several of the people who spent decades teaching me to love tried—and failed—to teach me to hate. Game changer! It’s bizarre. They rage at each other. Rage to anyone who’ll listen, actually. Sometimes they appear to enjoy imagining and saying the worst. Many feel torn in half. Betrayed. I know I do.

If you want to remain in the Keep Calm and Carry On world forever, by all means, don’t come here. Don’t enter the space between.

Here we rage. We fail. We scream. We yell. We weep. We make huge, unforgiveable mistakes. We fight. We flee. We watch our hands become axes as we cut ties with those we love/hate/must move away from just to survive. Wonder if those sharp axes will ever be reimagined into poet’s hands again.

Here we shatter.

We shatter.

From Keep Calm and Carry On Land, we may appear crazy. Out of control. Scary. Broken. Dangerous.

Oh but we aren’t. We are living a different kind of life is all: a wilder, wider, always-moving-now life.

One life is a pond. It is calm and serene on the surface. Its danger is stagnation and limited self-reflection pointing only at the sky. In humans this can show up as stability. Without shatter, though, it can also show up as rigidity, self-righteousness, losing touch with beyond-self reality, and choking on a festering stew of your own judgments and imagined monsters. I don’t have to imagine this. I live it.

Life within the shatter is more like a river. Its danger is flooding and overwhelm. In humans, this can show up as flexibility, empathy, and exploring the nature of things far beyond the self/pond. Without some stability, though, it can also show up as being so far out of control that you visibly cause harm to yourself and anyone in your path. I don’t have to imagine this life either. I live with shatter every day now.

Shattering is not easy. The shattering of my mom‘s former self and memory is heartbreaking some days: wonder-filled and awe-inspiring and beyond amazing other days. This past year, the shattering of my entire family was so heartbreaking it felt like I was going to die. In case you’re wondering, I didn’t.

Instead, I became a family elder. Cut ties with some relatives (and some cut ties with me) to have more energy for supporting my parents, sister, aunt, cousins, husband, and self.

I became sillier. I binge watched all 153 episodes of Gilmore Girls on Netflix to mend my broken heart. A show that I’d never watched before and written off in passing as ridiculous, harmful, sexist, girly pop-culture brainless fluff. (Gosh, I’m not judgmental at all, am I?). The show mended a little girl’s broken heart. This little girl, age 44. My sister and I then reimagined ourselves as an improv comedy caregiving troupe: Team Jinda.

I became a dragon. I spoke my truth in person, in poetry, and in essays and drew the wrath of extended family, who screamed “You know that’s not true!” at me for sharing my perspective. It worked. Those previously inclined to rage at my exhausted father and my pregnant sister turned their eyes and their rage on me. Or tried to anyway. It’s remarkably hard to fuck with a dragon: especially a poet dragon who works part time as part of an improv comedy troupe. I am a person now comfortable in the presence of pure rage. Yours and mine.

Those who appear crazy, out of control, dangerous, scary, or broken don’t scare me as much now. Those who rage, scream, flail, yell, weep, fight, flee, or make unforgiveable mistakes don’t scare me either.

That’s just my people.

People who shattered. Survived. And got remarkably fluid, powerful, and silly in the process. We got stronger.

We move together like a river now. More powerful, and broken, than before.

We mix metaphors like fancy cocktails with little umbrellas.

Here within the shatter, the sign in the window always glows Open. Wide Open, actually.

Except for the brief moments it glows Get the Fuck Out and Let’s Try Again Next Year.

That’s what staying strong looks like for us now.

Stay strong, my friend!

Playing Giant Free-Range Rubber Chicken Idea Ping Pong in the Field of Imagination

Playing Giant Free-Range Rubber Chicken Idea Ping Pong in the Field of Imagination

In late February 2017 before the gray skies here on Whidbey became blue, I looked out the window and saw a poem, about a dead tree, in the middle of the just-barely-beginning-to-bud forest. I called the poem Life 101. I eventually saw it for what it was: a poem for my friend Bernie DeKoven.

Six weeks later, in still-gray early April, my long-time friend and mentor Bernie DeKoven—the very friend who I was dedicating my new and most playful book to—shared with us that he has been diagnosed with the kind of cancer that ends your body’s time on earth, no matter how ridiculously cool and very much needed by everyone you are. He has a year to live, at most, the doctors’ say. The moment I heard, I got so angry. I cursed the universe, and life herself, as I wept and wondered how I would manage to honor his request. This request:

What I need is for you to continue your play/work however you can. Play games. Play the kind of games I like to teach – you know, those “funny games” – harmlessly intimate, vaguely physical games of the semi-planned, spontaneous, just-for-fun ilk, basically without equipment, or goal, or score or reason, even.

Teach those games to everyone. Play them outside, these games. In public. With friends. And strangers. As many as want to play with you.

Make up your own games. Make them up together with the people who play them. Play. Teach. Invent. Play some more.

Also especially – look into this playfulness thing too. Deeply. Because we’re not talking just games here. We’re talking about how you can let yourself be as playful as you’ve always been, how you can be playful almost anywhere with almost anyone, how you can invite people to be playful with you, in school and office and in the checkout line: all kinds of people with all kinds of abilities from all kinds of backgrounds.

Maybe download a free copy of A Playful Path, even.

But I wasn’t quite done being angry.

Jesus, Bernie, I thought. Really?

Be playful? Right here in this moment? In THIS year?! In this terrible, horrible, pain-in-the-ass, this-totally-sucks, you-give-us-f#$&ing-Trump-but-take-our-beloved-Bernie year? The year my mom’s Alzheimer’s disease will likely land my father in the hospital and her in a memory care facility? It’s like 2017 was specifically designed to make me give up, defeated, shouting “Screw you, universe!” from under the bed.

But then, there you are my dear, wonderful, stupid-head Bernie.

There you are: already being playful.

Still doing your daily play/work in the world, plus bringing in more playful swings to your local park. Still being my playful muse/mentor/friend. And doing the same for so many, many others, too. You’re just, just… what?

You’re just so damn beautiful.

The love and kindness that you share with Rocky, your kids and grandkids, neighbors, old friends, and new friends? The play/work you share with us? The videos. The talks. The games. The websites. The blog posts. All of it.

It’s just so beautiful.

God dammit, Bernie. How am I supposed to be the playful being that I want to be without you here?

Without you around, who am I going to bounce ideas across our country to as if the country is just a giant ping-pong table, with a Rocky Mountains net, and our ideas just giant bouncing balls to play with?

Or wait, no. Rubber chickens.

Ooo, yeah! Giant Free-Range Rubber Chicken Idea Ping Pong.

How fun would that be? No. That’s not quite right, is it?

How fun it’s been! How lucky we have been. You and I have been playing Giant Free-Range Rubber Chicken Idea Ping Pong for more than six years now. I remember the first time that you commented on my blog. Remember blushing to my roots when I realized who you were. It was like Elvis giving advice to his most star-struck, teenage fan (well, an older Elvis and a very old teenage fan). 😉

And I remember the day you told us that you’d turned down a professorship so that you could just keep on doing what you do–the writing and the playing and the speaking and the wandering. I did that once too, about 8 years back. I didn’t fully know why then, but now, my friend, I do. It was saying no to them that allowed me to play this game with you. What a gift. What a solid choice based on nothing much more than intuition. Hmmm…

Bernie, wherever you go and whenever you go, I’ll still come meet you in the warm evening sun. Right here, within the field of imagination, on our country-sized ping-pong table with our playful ideas flying in directions both silly and profound, and sometimes going in wholly unexpected directions like so many rubber chicken balls. Just ask Mahatma Gandhi. I’ve been playing ping pong with him since I was 11 years old. He’s been dead the whole time, and he still kicks my ass regularly.

I suspect that you and I will be playing Giant Free-Range Rubber Chicken Idea Ping Pong as long as it’s fun for us. Which—given our skill level, general love of play, and abiding love and faith in each other—will be long after both of our bodies are gone.

We may have to give up the body when the body says it’s done, but we don’t have to give up playing, player.

Not now. Not ever.

Because you and I—playing together—are what the universe herself wants to be.

Reclaiming Inimitable Joy

Reclaiming Inimitable Joy

I was contacted this week by a lovely Canadian gentleman who runs a coworking space in Alberta who wants to talk to me next week about coworking, community, play, and collaboration. Fun! And how lovely to be reminded that not everyone on earth is bogged down by the political cluster-F happening in our country this week (or should I say month? year? maybe decade? I can’t decide).
 
Anyway, this lovely young gentleman told me he’d found my name in a blog post on Bernie DeKoven‘s website. Geez. That Bernie. He’s a peach even when he’s not trying. So, I typed my name into the deepfun.com search engine to find the post and—low and behold—there I was! Mentioned! By my friend/mentor/play guru/elder! Not just the once (which I remembered), and not just twice even, but NINE times do I show up in this treasured database of connection and fun and play and games. Bernie’s quite a writer, and, I must admit, not only when he’s writing about me. Heh heh. But I digress…
 
In doing this search, I came across a post called “Inimitable Joy” that includes this 2013 video of Natalie Kinsey (aka Pinky), Bernie (aka Blue), and me (aka Batman’s mama) having a playful, thinky, silly, meandering, apparently purposeless, and yet visibly getting more and more fun conversation. The last third of this video is so fun for me to watch that it made gratitude tears slide down my cheeks. I looked down to my lap during the last third of the video and found that Batman the cat had even shown up. He was curled in my lap, purring, and watching the video, too. Yes, Bernie, Nat, and I become so adorable together—so in love with each other and playing together—that cats watch us on the Internet!
Its been a rough week/month/year here. And yet thanks to this video, I remembered myself. 
Oh yes, Inimitable Joy! Unique, unrepeatable, bone-deep-for-me joy. I do know how to do that. That’s what inimitable joy that feels like. I do have that inside me! 
And that’s what these two have given me for years now, longer than even they know. From decades back when they were my childhood imaginary friends, to four years back when we played together via a Google+ hangout, to just this week, when I read their latest blog posts, and beyond. There are no limits to who I can be when I’m with them. No limits to who we are when we’re together. When I’m with them, I am my river self. My ocean self. My bad-ass-beyond-all-logic-and-reason self. I hold unshaken wonder and inimitable joy within me!
Once we humans taste inimitable joy like this, I suspect that it’s flat out impossible to settle for anything less for very long. Actually, I know this fully. Know it in my bones. As a poet. As a community and self-organizing groups researcher. As a community story wrangler. Coworking space holder. Neighborhood event co-inventor. Work re-inventor. Small business human. Alzheimer’s care partner. Editor. Daughter. Spouse. Friend. Cat mom.
I know that once we humans taste inimitable joy, it becomes flat out impossible to settle for anything less for very long. Because we’re bigger—and part of something bigger—than we were before. But the word suspect makes me sound so much more flexible and cool and open, don’t you think? So I’m sticking with “suspect” here…

Once we humans taste inimitable joy, I suspect it’s flat out impossible to settle for anything less for very long.

And the cool thing about humans is that we’re such connected and intuitive beings that just witnessing inimitable joy–like we demonstrate in the last third of the video in particular–is all it takes to make us stubborn as shit about claiming and reclaiming joy for ourselves and those we love.
So the politicians can fling their mud today. And their attorneys can spin their spin and go in for the win again, today. And the media can fight over who gets to show the most silencing and violence. That’s such a tiny part of the human experience: why imagine it as a bigger part of us than it is? That part of us is like a handful of sand tossed into an ocean, I think my buddy Gandhi said.
I still sit with that part of us now and then. It’s part of us too. But I know that violence and silencing is not why I’m here. I’m here to be dreaming, wandering, reflecting, welcoming, and wondering:
  • How do we reclaim our inimitable joy? The deep, unique joy of living? Our birthright as earthlings?
  • How do we become a whole beautiful world again of kind, laughing, and playing elders? With sparkles in our eyes? Worthy of the kind, laughing, playing beings that we bring into the world? And
  • How do we become so adorable again together that cats want to watch silly human videos on the Internet instead of vice versa?
When I forget, I’ll return to these humans, this silliness, and this video, and I’ll remember.
My dearest Bernie. My tree-haired, kindred wanderer Natalie.
I will remember.
So will Batman.
Refugees

Refugees

Since the inauguration two weeks ago, I’ve been having nightmares. I was too freaked out to share them, until I read Sherman Alexie’s new poem Autopsy about his dream that his passport was bleeding. Thank you, master poet. For sharing your pain. I woke up the other morning and jotted this down quickly, before the nightmare could fade…

Refugees

First they cheered their new savior
Their hearts swelled
imagining that beautiful new world
no enemies near
wealth without fear

They saluted or swooned when he walked
in the room…

Well, except the women, who
shrank almost imperceptibly
inward and back, smiles intact
eyes averted and blank
hands gently cocked, ready to defend
when he approached
to hug them.

Then they watched their new president
his pals with dark smiling eyes
suits and ties
white guys
lies
destroy their institutions
generations of work and promise
became ash at his feet
and still they cheered
for soon, so soon now, they’d have nothing to fear

Then they watched as he cut
ties
with our oldest allies
provoke others into terror and war
They watched neighbors beaten
murdered
in the streets

When the homes of natives went up in flames
they grew silent, confused
they turned back to FoxNews
where they could read about
The Best Cabinet Since Lincoln
and
How to Use God to Defend Against Liberal Jackals
(go check that out if you think I made it up)

When they looked outside each new day
they wondered why
millions around the world
marched in the streets
against the savior, who well, sure
may look like a dictator
but they knew he wasn’t
because he was their savior

So they did what they’d been taught
they kept preaching kindness
while they watched babies
families
elders
terrorized at their borders
and in their heartland

They preached compassion and forgiveness
please, don’t be crude
don’t say pussy
don’t bother me with your petty politics on Facebook
all the while
white guys with dark eyes
poured gasoline on tepees
on women, on nature, on life herself
and dropped the match…

When the world went up in flames
the day World War III began
they didn’t even notice
thought they’d be saved by their new president’s best buddy
Fredrick Douglass.
There they stood, plain to see
two great men: one bad, one good
and both, sadly,
long since dead.
And they didn’t even notice.

Until their water became too expensive to drink.

Until mom got cancer
nobody could afford to treat.

With no EPA, scientists,
journalists, backbones, or basic human decency left
poison peddlers flourished

bees across the homeland died
more than half the crops
along
with them

They found themselves
shell-shocked nomads
moving south
looking for rest and work
anywhere they could get it

A third of their children
died that first bitter winter
another third of them
drowned crossing rivers
the gentle earth gave them stones
to mark their passing

Most of their grandparents died
in one spot
because they were too weak
to climb their own savior’s wall
one mass grave for them all

So that’s how we showed up here broken
bleeding and starving
with literally no place left to go
beggars
at the world’s front door

Afraid, no more. Of
refugees.

Irreverent and Unapologetically Odd Resolutions for 2017

Irreverent and Unapologetically Odd Resolutions for 2017

I got this idea from my friend Bayo who teaches me daily that we are so much more than we imagined yesterday. Thank you, Bayo. This is his list.

These are my current irreverent and unapologetically odd resolutions. In 2017, I am somewhat inclined to:

  1. Accept life advice only from birds, animals, and the strangest of the strange humans I know or meet.
  2. More thoroughly enjoy mom’s Alzheimer’s disease.
  3. Write odes (aka, poems/songs of praise) to everyday people and items on good days and to people/things I am angered by on bad days.
  4. Watch for dragons in the woods behind our new house. Talk to them only when we’re both ready and then mostly about magic.
  5. March peacefully in protest to 1) show solidarity with those most hurt by standard prejudices and practices, 2) make protests safer by my presence, 3) make new friends, 4) get more exercise, and 5) fall back in love with the world.
  6. Dance, sing, draw, swim, daydream, or write poetry every day. See that these take priority on days when I or nearby earthlings are especially frustrated, sad, or angry.
  7. Hold funerals or say prayers for lost socks, buttons, and other small things that disappear unexpectedly.
  8. Follow the examples of Americans with disabilities and mental illnesses, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, and LGBTQ+ Americans, as well as braver-than-me artists/poets/musicians, in their demonstration of what it means to be fully present and listen really well to those present. Here in my country this will be a year of remembering what it is to be a true friend, fully human, a beautiful earthling, and a strong community. A year of reminding ourselves and our institutions of our amazingly weird and wonderful nature.
  9. Get even more lost. Open even more space and time for purposelessness, pondering, poetry, parks, play, and pancakes.
  10. Take spontaneous road trips with my sweetie, my dog, and possibly, my three cats, if nobody volunteers to come watch them for us. Hint, hint.
  11. Enjoy dirt under my feet and fingernails. Enjoy dust, dust bunnies, stains, hairballs, and all their kin. Not just alone but with friends.
  12. Learn from those who unexpectedly thrive within resistance. Learn from strangely endearing scientists, off-the-charts kind religious leaders, and awkward-and-beautiful-and-trying grassroots organizers around the world.
  13. Financially support local poets and artists, the Standing Rock Medic and Healers Council, the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Planned Parenthood, and my two favorite media outlets.
  14. Recognize that both our home and our town wants to be a refuge for people more threatened by hatred and discriminatory policies than we are. Allow our home and our town to live to their full potential.
  15. Write a book that surprises me.
  16. Learn what it takes to remove a hate-filled demagogue from government office. Take an active part in the process of learning.
  17. Plant trees and shrubs selected by birds, bunnies, bugs, deer, and at least one dragon for their suitability to the place and time.
How the Land of Don’t Belong Changed Its Name

How the Land of Don’t Belong Changed Its Name

There once was a land called Don’t Belong in which the people panicked and began believing that it was important to create a list of all those who didn’t belong. At first The List seemed small and harmless enough, so people didn’t think too much of it:

  • foreigners don’t belong, obviously (they’re too different and too likely to want our stuff)
  • natives don’t belong either (they’re also too different; too likely to want their land back)
  • some foreign religions don’t belong (any that are too unforgiving, unpredictable, violent, and different; and too likely to perfectly demonstrate how distant we ourselves are from God)
  • women don’t belong (they’re too intuitive, too nurturing, too emotional, and too complex, making them suspiciously like many foreigners and natives)

Because the people were busy and weren’t thinking about it too much, The List rapidly took over and wove itself into the fabric of the culture itself. People were no longer in charge. Only The List was. The moment this happened, panic became the norm of public life in Don’t Belong. The List expanded to include:

  • members of the LGBTQ community (too understanding, too stretching us to grow, and/or too fabulous)
  • men who are anything less than “100% all in” on greed, patriarchy, capitalism, and/or hierarchy[1] (too much like women)
  • babies and young children (too messy, too loud, too playful, too uncontrollable)
  • teens (too hormonal, too irrational, too impatient, too energetic, and/or having bullshit detectors that are too powerful)
  • elders (too much time to think, too generous with their time, and/or too physically frail to be of standard use to the system)
  • people of color (too colorful, too angry when persecuted or killed, and/or too opaque[2])
  • differently abled people (too likely to make us think, feel, and act outside our normal frame of thought and reference)
  • the devoutly nonreligious: atheists and agnostics (too non-conforming, too likely to ask questions, too disinclined to value 2,000-year-old words above the words of living friends and neighbors, and/or too arrogant)
  • the traditional devoutly religious: Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians (too prayerful, too likely to smile or break into song or feed the hungry, and too likely to argue amongst themselves)
  • the irreverent religious: Rastafarians, Wiccans, pagans, Buddhists, Pastafarians, the “spiritual but not religious” (far too free for their own good and ours; also, too likely to laugh off shackles)
  • people who work for a living by making, improving, cleaning, and/or repairing things with their hands (too non-greedy, too dirty, too financially poor, to distrusting of “upward mobility,” and/or too likely to also be or become artists someday)
  • artists (too loving of life, too unwilling to sell their souls long term, too able to demonstrate abundant life outside financial security, and/or too likely to create very beautiful and very terrible things, both of which disturb the norm)
  • scientists (too curious, too needing of evidence, and far too likely to hypothesize)
  • people larger or smaller than an admittedly unachievable “average” size (too unlucky of genes or too little self-control, too likely to stretch the boundaries of “normal”)
  • teachers (too devoted to the future, too inclined to respect and encourage individual differences in learners)
  • people of opposing political parties (too not like “us”)[3]
  • anyone denied access to money, resources, housing, food, water, and/or education (too lazy, too draining of collective resources, too criminal, and/or too personally demonstrative of the massive failings of the current system)[4]
  • nonconsumers: people who regularly gift, barter, share, and trade; who buy and need remarkably little to be happy; grow and make their own food; and/or make their own clothing or shelter (too damaging to the economy, too self sufficient, too happy) [5]
  • people sensitive enough be become “sick” or “addicted” within a deeply sick system (too depressing, too canary-in-the-coalmine for comfort)[6]
  • people unable to pay off debts in their lifetimes (too lazy, too criminal, too unlucky, too stupid to work the system or put themselves first, and/or too likely to chafe at a lifetime of indentured servitude)
  • demonstrators (too loud, too messy, and too disturbing of established and respected traffic patterns and mindsets)
  • voters (too likely to vote, too easily disappointed in leaders, too hopeful)
  • all animals, birds, trees, soil, air, rivers, lakes, and oceans and those who listen to and work with them (too messy, too vulnerable, too non-competitive, too exploitable, too “woo woo”)
  • Anyone who answers “All of the Above.” or “None of the Above.” to the question “Who are you?” (too confusing)

In Don’t Belong, The List was the law of the land. Those living in Don’t Belong were bound by it. Unfortunately for everyone back then, the only way to change it was to just keep adding more “don’t belongs” to it.

Eventually everything and everyone on the list was pushed out of Don’t Belong. Only a small, entirely transparent group (called The Invisible by others) remained. The streets grew very quiet. The Invisible mistook the silence of death for peace. They renamed those pushed out The Left Behind and congratulated themselves on being Peace Bringers and Greatness Makers. The only true Don’t Belongians. But with almost everyone and everything pushed away, they were more fearful than ever. They built a high wall around the land to keep The Left Behind out. In Don’t Belong, soon death became preferable to becoming a Left Behind, and more people were becoming Left Behinds every day. The rates of suicide in the land skyrocketed. Nobody left in Don’t Belong could figure out why.

Fortunately for the land of Don’t Belong, soon almost nobody was left in the land to enforce The List. The List itself began to gather dust. After all, to qualify for staying in Don’t Belong the few who remained were not allowed to grow old. They also couldn’t reproduce. They were running out of packaged food and bottled water too. Some[7] worked night and day to build perfect mechanical offspring, but they ran out of time. In the span of a single generation, the walled land of Don’t Belong stood empty: completely devoid of life.

In that same moment, the polluted air began to return herself to clean. The polluted rains and rivers joined clean air and returned the water to clean as well. Seeds and bees drifted back in, and soon trees and other vegetation began to grow. Birds and animals quietly wandered back in.

The remaining humans were the very last to return to the land of Don’t Belong. They had been hurt the most deeply. After all, they’d been banished and renamed The Left Behind by their own kinsfolk. They’d been hurt deeply in watching their kinsfolk lay waste to a home and a land that they loved and were forever connected to. They bore the scars of strip mines and deforestation and food deserts and gunfire and misdirected hatred in their very skin. This made them extra sensitive. Also, blessed with wild and creative imaginations, they couldn’t quite believe that the invisible residents/tyrants/murderers of Don’t Belong were truly gone.

Before the humans would enter the empty land—their home land—they decided to hold a gathering of all on the outside edge of Don’t Belong, in the long shadow of the wall.

“What if they aren’t really gone?” one young human voiced the concern of the whole. “How can we possibly arm ourselves against The Invisible now? I fear we don’t have it left in us.”

Another tentatively offered, “Could we find that old Don’t Belong list and put only The Invisible on it? Banish them as they did to all of us?”

A murmur rose up from the crowd. Everyone thought and talked at once. Those banished from the land—people who’d been on The List, pushed out, and abandoned—were not so easily persuaded to put others on The List, no matter who they were or what they’d done in the past. Life was a lot more complex than that. Beautifully messy and complex, in thanks.

They talked all night. The animals settled in to the warm grasses and trees around them, smiling. In the process, the people remembered themselves.

As the pink rays of morning drifted across the now-sleepy faces at the base of the wall, they had found a way forward.

“We are Namers,” an elder began. “We rename this land today. We more fully know her now. We are part of her now as she is part of us. And we recognize her as she truly is. We recognize ourselves more fully, too. This land is Belonging. We are Belongings.”

Another elder finished the thought, saying “As best we can, we will honor the spirit of welcome that lives within the land herself. We will honor the welcome that lives within the soil and the water, the air, and the trees and the animals around us. The welcome within ourselves. We will welcome others here. We will welcome The Invisible here, too. The Invisible isn’t outside us anymore and separate from us. The Invisible now lives within us. The Invisible is the unspoken, fearful, angry, hurt, or hidden part of us. The comfort within this home, our home, is only an illusion if The Invisible isn’t welcomed too. This community welcomes The Invisible within each one of us.”

The birds flapped their wings in relief. Animals inclined to howling, howled for joy. More than a few bugs danced. Earth, ocean, and wind were seen doing a collective high five, which the humans named a Wave and later mimicked during sporting events to remind them of their connection. And to remind them not to take themselves so seriously all the time.

And before the elder had even finished the thought, young people in all directions began tearing down the old walls and reimagining selves and boundaries. Because even the illusion of competing generations had fallen from their eyes once they’d remembered themselves together. They were all excited and itching to get some dirt under their fingernails and to begin anew.

THE END

 

End Notes

[1] Hierarchy was a bizarre mass delusion in the land of Don’t Belong. At the time, they strangely competed for a non-existent physical space called “the top” and added to The List hoping to either move closer to “the top” and/or return to an imaginary time known only as “When We Were Great.” The best we can assume from their behavior is that they believed themselves to be individuals trapped in a 2D world by a separate, cruel, and conniving supreme being, who they aspired to mimic. There is limited evidence that they referred to this being as “Drumpf.” However, evidence is so very limited that this name is now considered myth. Beautiful, life-renewing myth, in thanks.

[2] people of color. As near as we can tell, there was an elusive, rarely seen in public (because duh) group of humans in Don’t Belong who felt themselves entirely invisible, and who, because they were transparent themselves, also felt the need to be anti-color. We can’t be certain, of course, how many there were, because no photographic evidence is possible when dealing with transparent beings. Back then, the rest of humanity began referring to themselves as people of color in response to the irrational fear, rage, and hostility of the transparent (also know as The Invisible) and as a sign of solidarity with each other in the face of outright discrimination, torture, and killing of people of color by the transparent for hundreds of years before The List was remembered into fiction and myth, in thanks.

[3] political parties. As near as we can tell, multiple groups called political parties existed for the sole purpose of making people distrust and/or hate their neighbors and become obsessively attached to the idea of a separate “them” out to destroy “us” within the imagined boundaries of a region or nation state. You’ll have to stretch your imagination here, as we have nothing remotely like this today to make comparisons with, in thanks. After The List became irrelevant, subsequent generations haven’t felt the need for political parties outside of historical fictional storytelling such as this.

[4] strangely, called “the poor” in Don’t Belong. We have no current equivalent for comparison, in thanks.

[5] economy. Another name for the global monetary system of the time that was poorly designed by a handful of the greedy to screw most people and the planet itself, in shock. Because so many people were deluded into believing that economy was separate from all of life and planet, the delusion ended up screwing everyone and almost everything eventually. We have no current equivalent for comparison, in thanks.

[6] the sick. Strangely, also called “the unwell” or “unhealthy” in Don’t Belong. Today, whenever we enter this phase, we recognize ourselves Seers, in thanks.

[7] In Don’t Belong, near the end, this group was called the Techies or the Technorati. None of them survived. However, some of the Techies who became Left Behinds did join hands with others/survive. You will recognize their ancestors among our beloved Tool Makers, Game Teachers, Star Travelers, and Artists today, in thanks, and recognize them in yourself when you join them.