Great Mystery we honour

My grandmother had always referred to the universe as the Great Mystery.

Richard Wagamese, Indian Horse, page 65.

“We need mystery. Creator in her wisdom knew this. Mystery fills us with awe and wonder. They are the foundations of humility, and humility, grandson, is the foundation of all learning. So we do not seek to unravel this. We honour it by letting it be that way forever.”

Ibid.

The transformation that comes from practice and doing the same tasks over and over for many days. The chores build strength and speed and competency. The isolation fosters individuation and delight at the ability to accomplish and notice the changes that come with being able to simply do and with time master at what was once impossible.

Not pummeling, not coping

A life like mine annoys most people; they go to their jobs everyday, attend to things, give orders, pummel typewriters, and get two or three weeks off every year, and it vexes them to see someone else not bothering to do these things and yet getting away with it, not starving, being lucky as they call it.

Muriel Spark, The Portobello Road in All the Stories of Muriel Spark, page 5, New Directions, 2001.

When I told a friend who was just beginning to dip her toe into the pool of consulting and freelancing that “the full time job is a vestige of the 20th Century,” she laughed out loud. Months later, she approached me and said, “you’re right!”

“About what?” I replied.

After an incredible job that came to a shitty end after the man in charge rubber stamped the sexual harassment of at least two women. My 27 year old self was clear that I could not stick around no matter how incredible the three years prior had been. I refused to speak with or even look at the perpetrator, I was so livid that I’m surprised, in hindsight, that I didn’t agitate or create more unease in the final six months. I had sought to get the harasser fired or disciplined but he got a paltry, bullshit type of give-you-a-pass reprimand and with that, I quit.

The 403b pension, the travel perks, and lest of all, the health insurance, we’re not sufficient to keep me bound to a job or employer. The camaraderie and relationships that were the utmost of that job were transferable and s on begging that I was clear that I could take with me.

Within five years of working full time, I saw that the myth of health insurance coverage either HMO or PPO, did not outweigh the loss of autonomy and therefore the likely loss of my own dignity by clutching to a job that I thought I needed more than I needed my dignity.

That set me on my lucky path to not pummeling computer keyboards and incessant meetings. I loathe the ass-kissing that plagues too many workplaces where people in manager and supervisor positions resort to odd if not petty factors to determine the appropriateness of an employee and their evaluations of an employee.

Once I began freelancing, I began to extract myself from the habits of meeting for sake of making sure that people were working and therefore not goofing off. That didn’t make sense in the early decades of the internet before social media. In my first years freelancing, I was regularly astounded at how much people in FT jobs were posting inane shit on social media throughout their day. And I noted that people in FT jobs were posting so juicy as they didn’t have the autonomy to go for a walk when their morning or afternoon had a short or long window of flexibility.

I have wondered how I would be different if I’d stuck to more full time jobs over the last 2 decades: my physical health, my submission to meetings, if reaching 65 for the sake of retirement would be motivating me to excruciate for 2 decades more.

I’ve been lucky with a heavy dose of being wise.

Is it this, is it feelings

Is it shame? The shame of being a man with a penis and having had sex with women recently or decade earlier? The shame of being a U.S. citizen/an American who has tolerated the two party politics and dynamic between Democrats and Republicans for so long that they’ve squashed other political party alternatives?

Is it the horror of living in a misogynist nation state that does not guarantee maternity leave and therefore does not invest in parental leave nor provide a safety net for family leave. These notions are placed on the shoulders of the individual, not to be determined by policies to guarantee for all.

Is this inaction complacency to these domineering forces and stifling systems? Or a delusion that this greatest democracy in the world is not collapsing and convulsing.

Or is this some symptom or definition of stupidity. Socialized into apathy and subjugation.

Peeling to the core

But, why is it so? she asked me.

Mortality. Their own. And the fears of things that they do not understand.

But that wasn’t right.

Later, I said, They are regretting having sold this land that they didn’t agree on. That she wanted to but he did not. Now they have sold it, we live here, and they wish that they had not.

Nor was that accurate. This was so much bigger than us with so many forces at play. We were moving through challenging obstacles in our lives in the midst of phenomena defining others’ lives that were insignificant to our own yet also featured minor ways that we would imprint on one another’s paths.

It’s that they are crackers. Yes, that was it.

Little more to it. Some false sense of entitlement, a delusional importance and some ill and mistaken notions of how you interact with others, not simply that we are a separate family but even what is appropriate and inappropriate for an adult when speaking with or reprimanding a child. They have repeatedly thought that they could have wishes for what would transpire in our lives, which they have amplified by giving voice to some of their opinions. Unwelcome and asinine opinions. Now that they’ve been rebuffed, they bristle and bicker and stir the pot of shit that they want to spread around.

And in the face of such shit spreading conduct, I could cower or attempt to manipulate my body to not get hit by their shit, as a number of other cowardly neighbors have done around the bullies, because the cowards cower in the face of their aggression. And this white woman uses her white woman fragility to push the buttons of men who spring into some misguided actions of attempting to protect. From what, they’re not too clear as they don’t recognize the very whiteness of their ways. They pretend to adhere to being colorblind not knowing that their social circles are heavily white and colorblindness has been unfashionable since 1998.

Not today, haole

On Monday, in the middle of milking a goat, two police cars arrived outside the front gate. They were coming by to check after a call/complaint from a neighbor. A white neighbor. After a few minutes, a third car arrived.

It was bullshit and nonsensical. The 20 or so minutes that they were outside the gate was irritating, scary and instructive.

Some of the lessons of the episode were:

  1. Some people just won’t like you, so don’t take it personally because the exact reason(s) can be hard to discern and impossible to confirm. More likely than not, it isn’t about you.
  2. Align with fear.
  3. When people tell you who they are believe them. Believe them moreso when they show you who they are.
  4. Do not retract or recede or retreat in the face of violence, dehumanization or attempts to indignify.

The five days since then have been galvanizing and reaffirming to experience joy and delight and figure out who stands with us and what we stand for, who and what we value, and how living contrary to dominant culture in a racist, patriarchal, violent, capitalist world is something to be proud of and further fight for in the midst of hostility.

What to choose

I’ve been noticing more of what I’m habitually doing. Then today, I saw how it looked in someone dear to me.

Today’s lesson can be one of:

  • Holding gratitude or holding grudges?
  • Whining or writing?
  • Writhing or witnessing?
  • Scrambling or steady?
  • Floundering or focusing?
  • Tripping up or triumphing?

I had many years of getting distracted and turning away from. From taking some multitasking bait rather than simplifying, moderating and slowing down.

All the things

How once everything—the good and the bad—seemed like a reflection of the place you were born and how these days, instead, everything—the good and the bad—seems written in the depth of our flesh.

Trick, by Domenico Starnone, page 109.

The decade inside of —

The point of the departed arrow is not merely to pierce the bullseye and carry the trophy: the point of the arrow is to sing the wind and remake the world in the brevity of flight. There are things we must do, sayings we must say, thoughts we must think, that look nothing like the images of success that have so thoroughly possessed our visions of justice. May this new decade be remembered as the decade of the strange path, of the third way, of the broken binary, of the traversal disruption, the kairotic moment, the posthuman movement for emancipation, the gift of disorientation that opened up new places of power, and of slow limbs.

Bayo Akomolafe

How I tell it

“But so much is storytelling.”

I can tell a version that redeems everyone, or I can parrot a story that I’ve heard countless times since childhood.

It’s a bizarre, scary, daunting and liberating epiphany to notice that it isn’t just the events of what occurred but how I assign meaning to the occurrences that can influence, if not wholly determine, how I feel and what I suggest to listeners whether a single person or hundreds.

This is a trick about storytelling as it is a subtlety of self-perception. Recently, I told of four instances where a similar threatening dynamic occurred across 10 years and when I recounted them together, as a part of a set, I started to read new meaning into the dynamics coloring my life.

Over the last three weeks, I’ve seen how readiness to tell ones story depends on an agency to be the one to elaborate and describe. To be the subject rather than an object of a fly on the wall, a nuisance, or a passive extra in some larger event. It has been remarkable to witness the shift happening, as well as the consent or non consent to share, to tell.

On forgiveness

Ridiculous. Infuriating. Asinine. Callous. Those are some of the feelings as I read an op-ed by Michael Eric Dyson spinning Desmond Tutu’s death and legacy as an alternative to the current calls for racial justice and the reckoning of the genocide across US history and the colonization of North America by European immigrants [https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/28/opinion/desmond-tutu-america-justice.html].

I want to jump to and, who is the audience for this editorial? Because why M.E. Dyson writes is preposterous.

I find the processing of whiteness — white guilt about white supremacy and whitewashing to pretend that the record is not as sordid as it is — that passes as civics and domestic politics within this nation state to be depleting and by that I mean exhausting and energy-sapping and life-taking to meet callousness with compassion, to forgive when they willfully forget and perpetuate and perpetrate new lies.

I am not a close student of Desmond Tutu’s public speeches and statements, leadership and political moves and public stances. I’ve done some reading about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission following the end of apartheid but we are far from being in a place where white America will tell their truths.

I want to ridicule Dyson by pointing out the absurdity of being a tenured professor at Vanderbilt University writing about the merits of making it work out. I find it difficult to read because this is more naive than Democratic legislators trying to negotiate with Republican peers who do not accept women and people of color as equals.

I once believed a myth that Black people in the United States could save the rest of the citizenry. But I don’t but much faith in such savior roles or racial dogma at this juncture in my life. I want to judge my younger self for harboring such foolish naïveté, as I did about all the shovel-ready-projects that were supposed to lubricate the stimulus package in 2009. But all that grandiose policy amounted to little of what was promised. It was futile for the president and members of Congress to promise about an 21st century energy grid or rapid transit trains spanning from Florida to the Northeast to California when they could not guarantee governing majorities for years on end. Instead, they made multi-year promises when they rose to committee chairs then were sidelined into minority party status by November 2010.

There’s something similarly amiss when Black Lives Matter is being conflated with cancel culture and then blamed for the inhospitable and dysfunctional and violent state of affairs between races in the United States.

Dyson doesn’t say “turn the other cheek” but he suggests that the well of indigenous and Black redemption of reckless white Americans is a renewable resource. To highlight the forgiveness of family members of the Charleston 9 is unfortunate, if not perverse. To have to hold and accommodate a man who pretended to be coming for prayer group is a tremendous and horrendous burden. Maybe redemption and forgiveness can be infinite but at this stage in my life, they do not feel sufficient for the illness and ailments that plague this society.

Maybe the timeless aspect of the oppressed’s forgiveness is that we are all humans and ultimately, there will/must be some balancing amongst the humans but it is hard to feel that when most of what I see is ignorance and defiance among people who have been accustomed to others suffering being coupled with their indulgence. Even as they learn of their impact, they don’t want to rein their excesses in. They want to continue to be violent and genocidal in their supremacist belief systems.

What’s the point of taking the moral ground when the ground is being seized and taken or plundered? Rather than prescribe maybe he could acknowledge the anguish and disgust that people of color feel. The pain that more whites acknowledge and empathize with and can acknowledge rather than argue or avoid. But there’s no reconciliation without going through the agony and saddling the burden of that leadership on people of color and other oppressed majorities is not how we rectify the brokenness of the powerful.

Epic squared

all the arts are about getting your shit out. And getting it out in a way that, if you’re lucky, is gonna create a path for someone else to work through their shit.

https://believermag.com/interview-black-thought-john-morrison/

Then I have to get more “personal, intimate and vulnerable” to exhume the trauma and divulge the unspoken.

exhume (verb): 1. to dig (something buried, especially a dead body) out of the earth; disinter. 2. to revive or restore after neglect or a period of forgetting; bring to light:

Considering my intrigue with dead, death and deafening, I am to exhume, indeed.