Echoing this wish about about Forward and Fierce.
If ever there were a time for powerful resonance, now is a good one.
Like so many people I am finding myself in a daze since the U.S. elections. A back and forth between numb depression and horror-revulsion, waves of anxiety.
I still don’t have anything remotely hopeful to say about this garbage fire of a political situation but, when not hiding in bed, I feel sparks of Fierce Determination to do.
To do (and undo). To do and to act, and am rooting hard for more sparks each day.
Each day I feel more strongly the call towards next steps, whatever they might be, filling up on that Fierce Determination to do something, a pull of Towards.
Kadima. Forwards. Towards.
What do we want to move towards?
I think most of us are painfully aware of what we want to move away from, but right now, eyes on towards: how powerfully and with how much fierceness and intention can I channel my towards.
This is what I want to learn and so this is my wish this week.
What are we going to do?
I have asked this question many times this week, sometimes in despair, but sometimes I am able to ask this like a wild and brilliant inventor on the verge of a Very Good Plan, brewing up possibility and hope.
Sometimes I am able to hear this question like a battlecry.
We’ve been given a lot of work, we’ve been asked to be conduits for big passionate intensity, and it’s going to be interesting, but hey, here we are.
There is no business as usual.
This is the time to be real and vulnerable and figure out what we can do.
Even if what we can do is “take care of mental and emotional health so hard and hold onto our force fields for dear life until something else can happen”. That counts too.
Action as a living out of towards.
I am thinking so much these days about action, and types of action, and where/how to be most effective. About the meeting points between extreme self care and standing for what is right.
And really the only reassuring thing right now (for me) is how many others I know or know of who are finding their way through a similar process.
Like Sarah Mirk who has been in a wild flurry of interviewing people on the topic of activism that can be acted on before the inauguration, — there will be a podcast on bitch media with all these ideas next week, and also this sweet tiny free zine (which you are welcome to pass along).
I get texts from friends who are trying to figure out their next steps, and certainly I’m trying to figure out mine.
But what I know for sure is — other than the basic principles of Safety First and prioritizing taking exquisite care of ourselves to the best of our abilities, however that might look in a given moment — we already have good clues.
Our wishes haven’t changed that much.
They might just need to get a little more focused.
Do you get excited about electric cars? Fantastic. Because guess who is appointing a climate change denier as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, or really as head of destroying the Environmental Protection Agency.
Now is a good time for people who can get excited about things they were already excited about to get even more excited about those things. Forward? Forward.
Maybe it’s electric cars, maybe it’s indigenous rights, maybe it’s changing the culture of bullying, maybe it’s helping undocumented kids, maybe it’s women’s health, maybe it’s awareness or advocacy for something dear to our hearts, maybe it’s being a really good role model.
Maybe it’s being honest, vulnerable, clear, present, alive. And then showing up with that to whatever speaks to you most powerfully.
There are days when all I can do for the first few hours is bed.
Other days I’m fired up to get to North Dakota as fast as possible and protest the pipeline, contribute in any way I can.
There are days when I remember that the work I do right now — sharing and modeling the techniques and approach that contribute to mental and emotional stability so that we can do all the other things we want to do — is important and valuable. Time to consolidate my body of work.
Some days I feel so intensely glum but later I find out that a text I sent to a friend or something I posted here was genuinely helpful for someone in a dark moment.
How are you doing, says the guy who works at the cafe, and I don’t know how to answer.
Physically? Mentally? Emotionally? Politically? Existentially?
The word of the year is “post-truth“. How am I doing?
I am darkness and sparks.
I am a powerful fierce striking panther and a glowing star.
I am also currently someone who cries a lot and does not want to start the day.
And I am also someone who writes up a storm all afternoon.
Jason Garland Sturgill made this print — if you shine your light it won’t be dark. Yes, this too.
We having some shining to do. We have some sitting in the dark to do.
We do our best teaching (and leading) when we are vulnerable.
Since the election I have been thinking about a moment from my last year in university.
I don’t even remember what the course was, a seminar on Classical Athens (maybe?) with Irad Malkin. I remember the light coming through the window and this moment.
Someone asked him a question, and we were all waiting for him to do his thing, his charming, engaging thing, waiting for him to expound, enlighten, with wise, thoughtful commentary, something that would make us scribble wildly in our notebooks.
But he just sat there, on the edge of the desk.
And finally he said, “You know what? I don’t know.”
We looked at him, completely bewildered. The classroom went silent, something that does not happen in Israel, ever. We waited.
Finally he said, “I’m going to give this some thought and get back to you next week, thank you for asking a question I don’t know how to answer.”
That’s the main thing I remember from university. Not the classes I took, not the question that was asked, and certainly not the answer which he did indeed give the next week, I’m sure it was good but I couldn’t tell you what it was.
Vulnerability is real power..
It’s scary to do, but it’s real.
That’s what I remember from university. I remember that the one person I actually looked up to stood in front of his best students and admitted he didn’t have any answers.
I think this is part of what we may be called on to embody in this next period of time.
I think we are going to have to be open and honest about our lack of answers. This is uncharted territory. It is certainly eerily reminiscent of the beginning of one of the most frightening periods of human history, but it is also its own thing.
We are going to have to be real.
Real is how people know shit is different.
I realize that [business as usual] and acting like things are fine is one way that some people cope, and I am a big fan of whatever helps you cope.
At the same time, I personally have little patience for — nor interest in — the approach of lalala everything is fine.
Everything is not fine.
It is troubling, it is challenging, and there are populations of this country who are now in danger and in need of all the support we can gather together.
Acknowledging the not-fine is part of the vulnerability.
I am not talking about wallowing and stew-stirring. I am talking about clarity and honesty. Naming what is, including things that are not fun to name like white supremacists in high level government positions, or that a known sexual predator (who not only admits to this but is proud of it) is leading the United States.
Part of my wish of Fierce and Forward is about naming: what I feel, what I need, and how I want to be in the face of [things I feel strongly about].
A vague faded memory, maybe nine years old? A couple dozen happy people at an amusement park, of all ages, in matching blue shirts, having the time of their lives.
Somehow I learned this bubbly gathering was something called a family reunion, and I must have asked if we could have one too, since it looked to be quite the party, and that was when my mother explained that we don’t have extended family because they were all murdered by nazis in the holocaust.
In our family we joke that we are all about quality, not quantity.
Sure, it isn’t really that funny. Dark humor is the refuge of people who don’t have anywhere to go. But sometimes bitter laughter is what you have.
Who can count on us?
Little-me tried so hard to understand what kind of terrible friends and neighbors our relatives must have had, because surely if a bad person came to power now, we could count on the people in our lives to stand up for us, to hide us and rescue us.
I think they muttered something dark about how you don’t really know who your friends are until it comes down to it. And for years I chalked that up to their general grim paranoia, the painful legacy of being The Generation After.
But hey, right now Trump’s people are talking seriously and openly about a registry of Muslims in the country, citing the (horrifying) precedent of Japanese internment camps, aka the most shameful part of American history after the genocide of native peoples.
Right now Manhattan (Manhattan!) is covered in swastikas, I know at least a handful of people actively planning potential fleeing options, and many more people who have had to exit social media due to ever-escalating threats and abuse.
Right now I am losing my mind over just how many people are trying to convince us that Steve Bannon — an honest to god actual white nationalist and known anti-semite, and now the new chief strategist for the incoming president of the United States, is Not That Bad, even as the KKK are patting themselves on the back for this big win.
There are vulnerable people who need to know they can count on us.
We need to be better friends and neighbors than the ones my relatives had, and we need to organize and stand up as allies now, before there is a chance of too late.
Let’s be-and-do better.
So many of us are feeling the grief of not knowing how, but we have to start somewhere, so let’s figure out what somewhere might look like, let’s blow on sparks.
Here is a poster that that West Coast Craft is distributing for free.
ALL countries of origin
ALL sexual orientations
I stand with YOU
You are SAFE and WELCOME in this home
If you have a home or business where you can post this, or you know anyone who can, if you can identify as an ally to someone who might really need to know where to turn in a moment of danger, if you can be that spark of light, please be that spark of light.
And if you can’t for some reason, please join me in breathing breaths and contemplating all possible available ways of glowing and channeling light sparks, because this is needed.
I have been non-verbal for nearly four years, but today I am using my voice (yes, both meanings) and calling my representatives about Bannon.
People have been asking for years what would make me want to talk again, and I didn’t know, but now I do. This is important.
I used to think calling didn’t make a difference, but guess what, it does (read this!), so let’s get started.
If you’re not a resident of the United States, which I know constitutes a large chunk of people reading this blog, you can still help by sharing on social media as a way to remind people who are in the states that this is the time to get loud.
Here’s the important information:
- The very useful We’re His Problem Now spreadsheet tells you who to call and what to say.
- Again, here’s why calling matters and is more effective than commenting on social media.
- Here is a spreadsheet of companies that support Trump or do business with him. I don’t know how effective this can be but this is all new territory, and any way to use our voices is a start.
- Sign this petition about Bannon from the SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center). 153,000 people signed the first day and we need more. And here’s the Change.org petition.
- We can be vigilant about the power of fake news and not agree to let people we know spread it. Here’s a list of problem sites, and here are tips from Melissa Zimdars, professor of communication and media.
EDIT: Another good resource is this syllabus via @Wolven on Twitter, which I arrived at by way of the amazing @AlyssaHarad.
Yes, these may be small things, and yes, they are not enough, and we have to start somewhere.
What is next?
There is no business as usual.
We have to focus on whatever it is we can do.
Many people have gotten in touch this week to say that Fluent Self techniques are saving them right now, the thing that is helping them maintain mental stability and emotional well-being. And I am holding onto this so hard on the days when I feel helpless, vulnerable, terrified, when I think that nothing I can do or say matters.
We matter in ways we don’t know. I’m sure my professor doesn’t remember the day he told us that he didn’t have answers but I bet everyone who was there does. We can’t know how much we can change history by taking a stand, through being vulnerable, in our grief, using our voices to call for action, but we can keep faith and do it anyway.
What do I know about this week’s wish?
It is about passion and presence.
It is much less about doing what we think is expected of us, and much more about following the pull of what calls us.
It is about a new kind of provocation — in Tel Aviv we expected Professor Malkin to deliver some thoughtful response that would provoke us into thinking about the world in a different way. And he did. Except he provoked us into thinking differently through not having a response, and being beautifully open and honest about this.
It is up to us to make the world a better place before it becomes a seriously terrifying place. Our work is cut out for us.
And, as said, sometimes that work is fiercely taking care of ourselves and our loved ones, and sometimes that work is listening for the call of what am I feeling passionately about.
Sometimes that work is asking how we can best serve, and sometimes that work is listening listening listening listening.
What do I want?
I want to be a fierce powerful striking panther and a glowing star.
I want to be an olympian, focusing on the next four years of work and training.
I want us to find out just how powerfully can we focus on what we want, our Towards and our Fierce Determination.
I want to dive into last week’s wish about legacy and what I want to echo.
Anything else I know about my wish?
Peace. Peace. Peace.
Echoing and reverberating.
Stand up and be counted.
Presence and prowess.
Taking up space. Ringing the bells.
Agency. Fierce determination.
Fierce and forward, moving towards.
Thank you, me-who-wished.
Thank you, everyone who glows wishes with me, and thank you for the way we celebrate our wishes together, welcoming them and each other, it is a beautiful thing, and I am glad for it.
invitation: come play with me…
you are invited to share this post and to share many !!!!!! about what is here,
or share appreciation or anything sparked for you while reading
safe space for creative exploration asks us to let go of care-taking and advice-giving
wishes are never late because whenever you wish is the right time for wishing
we remember that people vary and my wishes don’t have to be yours, each process is unique, and this is a good thing
here’s how we meet each other’s wishes: with great kindness and appreciation and awe, whispering (and sometimes shouting) oh, wow what beautiful wishes