Sometimes I am the equivalent of a wet dish sponge, before it’s wrung out. Heavy, full, soggy, dripping, weary of working on messes that are not necessarily my own.
-with helplessness, worry, anger and utter disbelief (daily) at changes I see. I am not describing depression here; it is something else. It’s bombardment, an onslaught, every day a new atrocity to contemplate, a new thing for the soul to bear. I know from where the helplessness arises: I can’t wisen leaders, I can’t fix the Arctic melt, stop nature’s catastrophic disasters, heal the devastated, or help feed, clothe, and promise a future for Rohingya refugees, let alone for people in my own country. There are images out there on that subject that will break your heart. It’s happening, now as I write this. So to put things in perspective, I’ve got it pretty damned good. Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s advice:
“Like a cheerful traveler
Take the road singing beside the hedge.”
Part of me sardonically scoffs…yeah tell it to the starving and suffering. Just sing! It sounds PollyAnna to CHOOSE to take the road singing beside the hedge, but there really is something to be said for communing with nature wheresoever you can find it- stone walls, vines that impair the shapes of trees’ trunks. Wonder at the resilience of nature seeps in, how can it not? At how the tree grows despite the deformity forced upon it by the vine. There’s something valuable to be taken away from seeing a tree growing where it is forced to stand, that is it’s way of singing. This, from my backyard, a tree which has surrendered to the vine, yet whose trunk grows in a spiral now.
There is a bird, the black winged frigate, which waits until other birds are full. Then they force them to regurgitate. And steal the vomit. YUM
It is an impressive looking bird, regal, striking with its forked tail and long pointed wings. And yet it’s very base and animal instinct is to feed off the oppressed. When “leaders” remind one of frigates, I am full to bursting with frustration.
There is more to life than base animal instincts, it’s why we’re considered human after all. Of course I’m aware if I actively look for progress, for acts of kindnesses, for good, I find it. Just today, I found a story about a guy who missed his train by helping an older person go down some stairs, a story about a person who left a box of tennis balls on the beach with a note urging people to take a ball for their own dog in memory of their pooch who loved to chase them. But I LOOKED for those stories. Like berry picking, when you lift away thorns -scratching yourself- and it’s worth that, because then you spy plump raspberries hiding from view.
From this book, pictured above, read this excerpt:
“Everywhere I look, I see kindness.
I don’t need a magnifying glass.
Kindness is right in front of me! When I take a walk, I see…
…the kindness of everyone who helped me take my first steps.
Thank you, family!
When I skip to the park, I see the kindness of the people who poured concrete for the sidewalk.
Thank you, construction workers!”
It sounds simple but kids are future leaders, teachers, parents… and this book’s a great way to at least TRY and avoid a future of opportunistic frigates.
Apathy is EASY! Hope so much harder sometimes.
Opposites of Soggy:
Arid but cool. Dry but hydrated pleasantly.
Optimum conditions are rare!
But continual sogginess becomes a sorry state of affairs: mold, mildew, smell.
How to wring that “Soggy feeling” out?
Being reactive is human. Apathy is quite human (although devastating in its consequences).
Being pro-active is human too.
I give of myself where I can. I help those in my circle and elsewhere. I try to be educated about issues (all sides) before speaking, or developing a viewpoint. I don’t ‘jump on the bandwagon’ of those who shout the loudest. I am an individual, and as such, I turn to salves like art, books, music and poetry. When reading is at its best, it’s like finding word jewels that enforce my core beliefs. No I can’t change what I’d like to change, but I can love from where I stand.
I have seen lately an onslaught of FB and Twitter posters saying such things as: ‘I’ve had it up to here with all the Zen crap, the suggestions to meditate and it’ll be alright, the zen pushers, the philosophy that if you think positive, everything will be alright! None of that changes anything!”
I urge you to read this, a Zen Master’s take on why forcing yourself to see the positive ALL the time, is bullshit. If you want to finish this blogpost first, and then click the link, I will sum it up for you with this brief summary: Zen Master Osho believes that:
‘the negative has to be released, not repressed by positive ideas. Negativity and Positivity balance.’
It’s akin to…..
allowing the sponge to become so full it’s soggy, and then wringing it out in your own way, I suppose.
From Alice Walker, you may know these lines:
“Love is not concerned
With whom you pray
Or where you slept
The night you ran away
Love is concerned
That the beating of your heart
Should kill no one”
Yeah, I probably cry or at least feel tears spring to my eyes, often. I worry about what happens when people perceive the situation to be so bad, there are no tears left. When I feel like this, I tell children stories, like this old gem (and I feel a little better, because most of us are familiar with these stories, but the next generation needs to hear them): A beach was loaded with starfish. The tide had gone out and they were dying. A boy walked the beach feeling overwhelmed, close to tears, sad, at the enormity of what he was seeing and~ feeling quite helpless. Then he happened on a man who threw one starfish into the ocean… “Why do you bother? ” asked the boy. “There are so many, it doesn’t matter.” The man says, “It mattered to that starfish.”
I urge anyone feeling full to bursting with burdens and suffering, to accept without being resigned. To have courage alongside knowing when to yield. And to arm yourselves with wisdom while remembering the importance of respect.
“Never stoop to ‘their’ level!” My mother would often say. She is gone from her carnate body now, but I often sense what her reactions to the troubling state of the world would be; and thinking this makes me smile. Often she’d respond by saying,
“What’s this happy horseshit?” And then she’d blow an appropriate raspberry.
That’s her there, on the guardrail. She was nonjudgemental. I wonder what she’d think of comments like one I heard regarding a woman who had wavy hair: “That lady ought to put a comb through her hair. It looks raggedy.” Or this: “A ‘girl’ shouldn’t cut her hair short.” Or the ridiculous backlash on man-buns! Oh, please. Let people BE.
Back to Alice Walker, who lectured about “hair oppression,” of all things, a lecture which pertains to acceptance and nonconformity, and appears to be about hair, but is about so much more, as her work usually is, which is the best kind of writing, the kind where people leave a lecture feeling a little shook up and in a ponderous mood. The lecture did shake people up, in particular black women in the audience who had straightened their hair that day, although Alice did preface her views by saying, “Don’t give a thought to the state of your own hair at the moment…” She continued, in part and I paraphrase:
“…straightening, natural hair, kinky, wavy, curly, wiry, hot combs, relaxers… Eventually I knew precisely what hair wanted: it wanted to grow to be itself, to attract lint if that was its destiny, but to be left alone by anyone including me who did not love it as it was.”
As Robert Crumb said:
Tomorrow is Monday. I’ll have studied my work well enough to do an ace job when I submit my reports to my Project Manager! I’ll stretch my legs often. In fact I’ll go for a long walk, I need the exercise. I’ll water the plants, fine tune a drawing while planning another one, return important emails, and definitely not forget to take my vitamin supplements. I’ll be back on my healthy eating plan too: by keeping calorie intake to a reasonable amount and avoiding starches, save for whole grains of course. I’ll follow up on a few phone calls I need to make and catch up on laundry…
All of a sudden there’s a voice in my head: “If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride, kid. Why don’t you just do your best tomorrow? That’s a win-win.”