After being excoriated by a black woman in an email exchange (one that gave new meaning to the term “blind rage”) — I am looking around.
Where do I find solace, perspective, or meaning? In nature, for one. By being outside with Finn, listening to a death-themed “This American Life” as we make our rounds — enlivened by the expanse and chill quiet of morning hours. In the stretch of light in the evening as we approach summer.
Coming across quotes I jot down here and there (these two from On Being — I may not be able to track episode down but want to share anyway):
“Your level of true belonging can never be greater than your willingness to stand alone… I kind of hate that it’s true, but it’s just what I found”.
And a working definition of ‘civility’:
“Civility is claiming and caring for one’s identity, needs, and beliefs without degrading someone else’s in the process.”
Thinking about mortality helps in the aftermath of this ugly exchange too: how I am approaching the age-year of my mother’s passing (she was 62; I’m almost 61 and a half; I’ve already outlived my father by seven years); thinking about the heart as a pulsing muscle with a finite number of beats to beat (beat beat). What do I want my beating heart to fuel?
Lastly, a pearl of wisdom from the Tarot, where The Devil showed up in two back to back readings: “The main thing holding you back is your belief that something is holding you back”.
Amen to that.
Back to the morning pages. Must do. (after an inexplicable and lengthy lapse). Sessions on stationary bike are up to 25 minutes. Must keep doing. (my trick some days? Get on the bike and scroll through social media there instead of in bed. Redemptive!)
The sun is out!
Now for a few “of only’s”:
If only I would give up sugar again…. if only we still had a Congress… if only a crime syndicate in cahoots with a foreign adversary wasn’t destroying our society with a head-spinning rapidity… if only the Dyson vac hadn’t crapped out… if only I were the type of person to follow up on a warranty… if only Salem were 25 minutes closer… if only I were more disciplined. Sigh.
I leave you with this incisive and disturbing article by Rebecca Solnit — heroine to many of you, I know. She articulates where we are in America with terrifying clarity.
“The Coup Has Already Happened“.
“Not how you want to start your week” you say? I don’t blame you if so. But it’s not as if every corrupt and destructive thing she discusses isn’t, on some consuming level, on your mind anyway.
The Royal Wedding. Sneakers that fit and offer support. Really good homemade gluten free cookies. Lilacs. Lichen. The strength to push a lawnmower. Friends to see movies with. Movies. Social media (yes, even that).
Honeysuckle. Flying overhead: a robin with twigs in her beak (or is it plastic?) landing at the crook of two branches, building her nest. Good books.
A coyote crossing the street at 6:30 in the morning, pausing to look at Finn and me. Disappearing behind Daniella’s place. Finn. Cloth and gifts of cloth (thank you Deb and Ginny!!)
And SoulCollage. Here’s a card made, believe it or not, while constructing the burning infernos and dark fields (actually, I started it months ago and only glued it up this week).
I am the one who adores the wind and the sky and anything that plays with the wind in the sky. I adore red — how it pops and dances. I launch kites — and images and ideas, too. My element is air; my status freewheeling. I am the one who is not afraid to be silly or stand on the edge of a chair.
Sometimes the most potent collages are made by combining only two images.
And, sometimes you want to transmute the underlying image and sometimes, like here, you want it to stand for what it is. The bee-comb head is an ad for the TV show American Horror Story. I haven’t kept up with the series so I can’t tell you what’s up with the bees, but I can hardly think of a better way to name the gun carnage and political failure we face than: American Horror Story.
(PS. Made this SoulCollage Card two days ago but given how often mass shootings happen in this country, it’s not particularly prescient).
I need to slash and swipe and rip and adhere in big gestures right now and I lack the medium.
Writing is going, in case your wondering. So is quilting. But maybe an interlude of collage is in order. It’s not as fast as I would like but does come together more quickly than some writing or most quilting.
In SoulCollage circles they recommend an exercise to plumb the meaning of your collaged image. Of course any one image can have many meanings even for the same viewer depending on time and place. But the exercise is a useful one.
Looking at the card, fill in the statement, “I am the one who… “. This harkens back to therapeutic exercises I’ve done over the years — the gestalt process of speaking from various parts of self and Jungian dream work where each object and player in a dream is given voice.
So here goes for the top two (BTW, the silhouettes were made by cutting around the seated black man, so they are three versions of the same figure).
Card with the arch: we are the ones making the steep climb toward the light. The keepers of the faith. The reporters. The prosecutors. The community activists. Even those glued to the television refusing to let the most recent overwhelming mind bending and egregious acts slide by without notice can be credited with making the ascent. Look how steep the stairs!
Card with black man facing forward: I am the one who sees you and sees everyone and bears witness. I am haloed by history and backed by mountain ranges. Light is my friend. I have huge hands, an unflinching gaze, and more humanity than the average dozen people combined. Nothing you say or do has much to do with me. Nothing, really. There was a time I would’ve run for the hills with so much chaos unfolding, but not now. I see you and I see everyone and I bear witness.
K did an amazing job on the lawn. I helped a little. Believe it or not, it only took about three hours to lay down.
Today, for Mother’s Day, we had tasty Japanese food at the swanky mall down the road.
While there, I bought a cardigan to replace the one K shrank in the wash last week (yes! He does the laundry).
There were two phone calls and a big bouquet of flowers from the boys. Very nice.
Also: I gave myself a few hours in the studio and made this little piece (and half of another).
But here’s the main thing: I came into the weekend absolutely exhausted by the ever-present swirl of commentary about race and culture. About white people staying in their lane. Hands off this. You’re not allowed to do that. The debate really deserves a thoughtful post but I can’t guarantee I’ll write it any time soon. I’d rather focus on my writing.
PS. Some of you will recognize one of Jude’s indigo resist moons. I keep finding one here and there in my scrap baskets and it’s like Christmas every time.