This is for Bayo, who prompts me to be more honest and open, more me, and to let go into becoming more us…
Some friends are saddened right now by humanity’s apparent reactionary rush to re-occupy familiar ways during this Covid-19 global pandemic (known as the Great Couch Nap to the cats here). Saddened by the human rush to old ways of travel and schooling and greedily using up resources and stale business practices and governing ourselves as usual, even though so many of the old ways were making us scared, angry, sick, divided, and even killing us and the places we love. Feel what you feel as long as you need to feel it–my dear friends–I’ve learned never to rush through valuable feelings! And here are mine, just from today.
For many moments, I feel that to. Saddened by what humanity is apparently doing again. Then,
something weird happened this summer.
I don’t know exactly when it happened, but we’ve changed here. I’ve changed.
To be saddened by an apparent reactionary rush to re-occupy the familiar,
I think, would now require me to underestimate the power of birds, the warmth
of the sun and the soil, the friendship of trees and of women, the vulnerability
of wild life, the laughter of elders and children, the pace of the seasons, and the gifts
of stillness, blackness, silence, boredom, political BS, playfulness, illness, brave grocery clerks, neighborliness, and virtual visits
with faces we deeply miss and adore.
I find myself unable to feel saddened about humanity’s apparent rush backward to the familiar. My body
just won’t let me do that most moments.
I can still underestimate my individual self, but
not all the rest of it. Not right here. Not 6-months into a global pandemic with more than 893,000
irreplaceable people dead worldwide and 190,000
of those people in my country alone.
I’m not saddened by someone’s rush–even an apparent whole country’s or whole planet’s rush–back to the familiar.
Most want to go back to not dying at a frightening rate, and we’ve still got bills to pay and mouths to feed.
In this darkness, only those who were dying at a frightening rate before the pandemic know which direction is forward, long accustomed to squinting long and hard to see any light ahead. (Hello, dear leaders)
I’m physically aching, yes, from worry
about infirm elders and neighbors, caregivers, grocery clerks, friends in constant danger
because of the color of their skin, nurses, how small local organizations
and businesses will keep going, elections, and how our family will pay bills.
Also I’m mildly pissed off that I magically gained almost 10 pounds supporting local restaurants and bakeries
so they wouldn’t close, while my husband, eating the same foods, gained none.
Well aware that lack of access to healthy food and healing care by so many, on such a naturally healthy and generous planet,
is where my real anger comes from.
But I’m not saddened by the apparent rush back toward stale ways of being anymore.
Because these bodies have already changed. Our bodies are heard again. Listened to. Trusted.
We find ourselves ripped from so much familiar and dumped unceremoniously
on our heads, and having to reimagine ourselves and our roles and our place here and our family and our own
wee business yet again–while watching in pandemic awe as almost everyone around us
shows up to help each other in new and different and braver ways for them
while others have bravely slowed down long enough to remember how remarkably good-for-all-of-us slow feels.
Oh does our DNA love a seasonal pace, community support, just a word or two of gratitude.
We are a wonder–I’d almost forgotten.
I find myself surprised (and embarrassed to say out loud) that I’m thrilled to be here right now,
when so many are dying, so many suffering needlessly, and my country seems determined to tear itself apart.
We’ve been here before, my family and I. This is what grieving looks like. It’s a mess.
This is what grieving feels like. Skydiving into the void armed only with a backpack that doesn’t contain a parachute.
We are grieving, friends, we are grieving–and about so much more than Covid-19.
After so many decades of me fighting simply being here
in this place/body/time/moment, this pandemic taught me something
in a way that apparently 50 years of nothing else quite could–
I belong here. I belong here.
We belong here together. Right now. Our past, our mistakes, our secrets, our violence, and
our flaming-pile-of-bat-shit-crazy elected officials making things worse.
Why did we ever think that they could make things better without us?
Why did we ever think a handful of humans should run things without listening long and well to rivers and trees
soil and sky, birds and neighbors?
Even trapped within the borders of the sickness-ravaged U.S., within the bounds of our own little county and own tiny home,
in a country where anger and fear rains down on most of us from above and all sides now (that “from all sides” feeling meaning we’ve reduced into individuals again, not families, communities, counties, towns, regions, states, or countries). And some individuals actually think
wearing a small piece of cloth (well, three pieces thick) to help others stay well
makes us weak, meanwhile I don’t want to raise my own voice, never shaking the fear that my voice will drown important others out (because hello old light skin habits), and it now feels like we’re all drowning in a strange, red, round, spiky, virus-shaped orb jail of 500 years of silenced voices and cruelly enforced and fearfully ignored racist, misogynist, patriarchal, controlling, and just plain sad, handful-of-scared-humans-centered bullshit.
when I’m still not allowed to get within 6 feet of Mom at her memory care home. One of us living in her 17th year
with Alzheimer’s disease and at least one of us aware that any week could be her last, or
now mine, for that matter. Will she live her final year touched only by strangers? I’m so grateful for a disease
that’s taught Mom her caregivers are sisters and daughters. Here,
every unwatched moment is an opportunity to be defeated, and, thanks to illness and virus,
we’ve been forced to let go of trying to watch all, let alone control
most moments (hello new). There’s so much life and community and rebirth and power within defeat.
So much wonder and awe within letting go back into the larger world. Within we don’t have all the answers or even
know the best questions to ask–no matter who we are.
Human empathy, kindness, and creativity flourish from the compost of defeat and can burn away
in too much bare-root blinding sun. I’m content at last, because I find myself thrilled to be this defeated.
Mid pandemic, 2020, and for the first time I wouldn’t want to be any where or when or one else. This is the year so many expected and also surprising, completely bizarre things went so remarkably wrong, one after the other and then one on top of the other, that we just started to prefer talking to trees and walking in nature again to non-stop screens and riding in planes and trains and buses and cars most days (goodbye stale habits) and some playful folks started making BINGO cards to co-imagine what could possibly go wrong next. We humans can bring playfulness with us anywhere. Now that we know this–why would these bodies ever give that up? (Hello new) Feels a bit soon to imagine what could possibly go right, so I’m just resting a bit now here in the unknown. Napping in complete and utter chaos. (Hello new) Not all of us will live through this. Those that do will be a global human community that lived to see the full result of imagining that a handful of humans should be in charge of an unimaginable-by-us universe! It’s not pretty. Horrifying. We killed each other and made each other sick, and making and wielding deadly weapons became the only option for many, and we just blamed and blamed and blamed each other for it and felt bad about ourselves all the time under that old-us imagined model. (Goodbye stale BS and good riddance)
And it’s so remarkably beautiful here now, still, isn’t it? With or without us? So I’m not saddened by this rush back toward the (already outdated–can you feel it?) familiar right now. Those ways, those selves will feel stale and outdated soon enough to these grateful, pandemic-defeated, tired, empty, empathy-infused, soon-to-be-more-fluid together bodies.
Today I’m saddened because life herself is unimaginably abundant and glorious beyond words when walking in these woods, on these small feet, and I spent years not remembering that. I’m saddened because in these small bodies life is just short beyond all fairness, beyond rhyme, beyond reason. Saddened because
I haven’t gathered enough words of gratitude together
to even begin to know yet
how to say thank you, let alone
goodbye, to every tired angry face and every pair of smile-shining eyes we meet from behind our multi-colored masks.
When did I become so grateful for all of it?
We’ve changed. (Hello us) These eyes love faces so much now that they mist when you go, almost no matter who you are.
These eyes welcome the sadness of your loss as part of the deep gift of your presence. These lips have kissed a screen goodbye. We believe
in the changes our generous earth (or God if you prefer) creates within
even when the changes are far too subtle
or small or strange for human eyes to see or brains
to make sense of yet.
We’ll get there.
It’s six months in
and we’re already making friends
with these pandemic emotions.