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.

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.

Sadness place

Earlier today, I wondered: where is sadness in my body?

My first thought was my heart. That was too obvious and a thought rather than a feeling. A few, split seconds later, I sensed my feet. Again, here I was returning to my feet.

A few months ago, I resolved to care for my feet in ways that I care for my hands. I’m still not doing that across the day as my feet are below my waist, not easily above my waist hundreds of times a day. Yet, I am offering more attention, soothing embrace of my two feet and ten toes. Still, this is not enough.

I won’t replace my shoes and socks with some sort of glove for walking but I do wonder how to afford ny feet more love when they are adjacent to the ground and so much of my day is spent upright, and when I round up, my eyes are six feet off of the ground. And my feet are just about six feet away from my brain with all these other body parts in between and clamoring for their own sort of attention, affection, acceptance, allowance, and appreciation.

So, the sadness. It may also be in my back. Weighing on my back. Scratching my back. Hunching my whole body forward, leaning forward towards the coming onslaughts of the rest of the day and future days. Tightened in my back. And constipated like knots in my back.

I was asking for the location as that may be a passageway into my tears, if and when I can locate the sadness. The mild sadness of four decades isn’t the pangs of sadness that beget sobbing. Mild sadness has created a callus of enduring, and of keeping on in the presence of so much shit that abounds and surrounds. I’ve banished certain categories of shit and suffering — quitting jobs, eliminating manipulators, ghosting on dickheads, refraining from professional sporting industry hoopla and hype from devouring weekends and evenings. But there’s thousands more types of shit and suffering beyond these few.

And I’ve pushed the squalor into some far corner or high shelf in a closet within this body where I don’t stick my hands or cast my eyes. Switching from neglect to attentive is not an easy pivot. Or maybe it is, but I’m in need of ways to come into that sadness without dissociation or critical analysis. That feels like the balance needed for bike riding, not leaning too far towards the side of critical analysis not leaning too far forward or backwards that I flip over handlebars or fall off of the bike seat. I learned to bike at a late age, later than most, and maybe, I’ll do something similar when it comes to learning to feel the big sad. Maybe that place where my butt is on the seat and my feet are on the pedals is not that far away. But, I ought to figure out where to place my feet and my hands and where to place my back without getting too heady as I go there.

Talking w the children about Kamloops

How are the children?

Listening to the stories of genocide, savagery, the incomprehensible behavior of whites that litter through history.

Last week, the children listened to the news detailing the research in Kamloops/Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc that revealed that 215 children were buried in a mass grave.

That wasn’t a school. It was a prison.

That wasn’t a residential school. It was an assimilation hall.

A few days prior to the stories out of British Columbia, I had picked up:

  • I Am Not a Number (Second Story Press, 2016)
  • Little Bird #1, by Darcy van Poelgeest (Image Comics, 2019)

The week prior, we were exposed to the language of lies wrapped inside a tone of cunning deception that qualified the officials who kidnapped and stole indigenous children as “nice” and the act of forcibly relocating children as “tricked” with stories of nourishing meals.

Lies perpetuated through decades and centuries, repeated in news accounts, embellished in children’s books upholding the sanctity of white colonizers, refraining from mentioning the horrors of abusers and authorities.

What we talkin about when we talk about

messages lie in words …. But it’s metamessages that have clout, because they stir emotions, and emotions are the currency of relationships.

So said Deborah Tannen on page 10 of I only say this because I love you (2001).

Tannen wrote “those closest to us have front-row seats to view our faults” yet they also have the proximity to our attributes, gifts but we perpetuate a culture that does not appreciate as much as it deprecates.

A decade ago, I remember how bringing an assets based approach was a welcome salve in the nonprofit/civic sector rather than the continued fixation with being motivated by what was missing or lacking in a place and wanting to be the problem solvers by confronting those things that were missing. But a few workshops in a year full of meetings results in a low concentration. And that short lived attempt to embrace what a place had was challenging to sustain when being critical is easy and familiar and a way that we have been told to treat one another in school, at work, in public spaces, and at home.

Now, I have made it a fixture of naming appreciations for the people i am with on a daily basis, at the end of most of the webinars that I design. And still it is difficult for people to begin with what they like.

Tannen elaborated no messages and metamessages by saying:

  • message: the meaning of the words and sentences spoken, what anyone with a dictionary and a grammar book could figure out.
  • metamessage: “the meaning that is not said, what we glean from every aspect of context: the way something is said, who is saying it, or that fact that it is said at all.

Or using another metaphor that “message is the word meaning while metamessage is the heart meaning.” Tanner elaborated by saying how metamessages are implicit and difficult to pinpoint as they are about relationships. Her early suggestion is to distinguish metamessage from message and one way of doing so is metacommunicating or talking about communication, which I suppose is using words to describe the implicit heart emotions.

Wanted: roommate

As I lay down for a second round of snuggles before bedtime, the five year old said:

“Poppa, I have always wanted you to be my roommate.”

I replied by smiling in the dark. I basked in the glow of this sentence as I looked out the window at the silhouette of the trees in the twilight. Then I said:

“I will always have your back. I will always love you even when I’m frustrated, sad, or angry. I will never leave you. You will live with Momma and me until your an adult and you decide where you want to live.”

It was a dignifying for me. I’m moved by the always of five years because these five years have been so enormous and consequential and so quick. And that some facets from a few months ago have been long forgotten. So always is so long.

And, it was a statement of right now. At times, she has the ability to recall some detail or moment or specific from months ago that has not been named and she can bring it up and remember some thing that I forgot. And throughout the day, a five year old can offer immediate feedback about how things are in any exact moment. And that’s what being told that I’m a roommate who has been wanted forever feels like some special love as a father finding my way in these unknowns.

We all are precarious and fragile every day

A dear friend was in the emergency room twice and made a call to 911 yesterday. Enabled by corporate health insurance as we wade and drown through a medical peonage system that tars and feathers and sullies us all when we seek to live. Or in the proximity of the ER, seek and hope and pray to stay alive. Or at least, those who love us and we are in touch with to know of an episodic venture to and fro a hospital and brinks of death.

I learned of these medical immersions a day after we exchanged words about the joys and bizarre inane of fatherhood with two children. Becoming a parent is more than double the fun. More than double the work. Double the pee, doubled the poops to supervise and scrutinize when not cleaning derrières and scraping diapers.

Fitting that poop thoughts leads me to how we live so precariously, always a few steps or select circumstances, largely unseen, from death. We are fragile like an eggshell and salad greens and fragile like the bud that becomes the flower that morphs into the unripened fruit that becomes the fruit that will perish by spoiling in short order. Fruit may be furthest from death when it is hard and unripened, which makes me wonder if we are furthest from death when our bones are more pliable and bodies are limber in some span of the early years of childhood. We are such fragile beings walking and waking and eating and defecating upon the Earth’s crust.

I don’t take for granted that I will see friends and family members when I travel away from them or they travel away from here. Rather, I cannot hold the probabilities of all who will live and who will die in the window of some unknown amount of time — be it months or years — before I see them again.

From more than 3,000 miles and three hours separated by the international time zones, I offered some ceremony later today once I am home. I don’t know what combination this ceremony will be. One certainty will be to name some blessings and gratitudes before dinner. One option will be to pull out one of our favorite books at home, Byrd Baylor’s I’m in Charge of Celebrations (ISBN: 0689806205), illustrated by Peter Parnall and published in 1995 by Aladdin Books. For all the baking and recipe swapping that I’ve done with this friend, I ought to bake, if not tonight, then something sweet and delicious in the next four days. And to find some laughter and be in charge of such laughter so I know that I’m doing so ceremoniously.

It is not just the proximity of his death, but the tender, vulnerability of all of these living things that constitute this plane and this world and this word as I know it through my current belief systems that i am reminded to celebrate and offer love and truth to today.

Tending to unfinished business rather than bucket lists

I’ve had death and how our collective culture revolves around, relates to and treats death for the last month since my cousin died. I heard of his death in a car accident at midday on a Thursday.

Within a few days, I heard mention of Bucket Lists at least three times. And multiple other times in recent weeks. My emotions over the last month swam far, deep and wide. I have been quite irritated when I hear about “bucket lists” because a tone of jovial, fun-filled, and this-is-cool accompanies it. Much of my irritation is due to the material or experiential aspect of most things that populate these lists — hot air balloons, travel, bungee cord jumping. It feels like yet another instance where we are supposed to wear happy faces and feel great, even though most of our feelings about death and transition are not happiness nor greatness.

On the other hand, I first learned about Unfinished Business two years ago when I opened a first book by Elisabeth KublerRoss, which was either The Tunnel and the Light or On Death and Dying. Ahh, the joys of reading and the power that new ideas, when remembered, can have on altering my own life. Since first reading Kubler-Ross, Unfinished Business has become a counterpoint, or an antidote, to the Bucket List.

Unfinished business, according to a summary of how Kubler Ross described it to a six year old with a dying sister, is:

anything that you haven’t done, because this is your last chance to say or do anything you want to do, so that you don’t have to worry about it afterwards when it is too late.

Forgiveness. Love. Freedom. Permission. These are the simple and fundamental things in life. For some odd reasons (including attempts to control and manipulate others) we have a tendency to make life much more complex and messy than these staples.

_______

Unfinished business is affirmed by reading this list of the five biggest regrets (biggest wishes, in other words) of people approaching death, which was compiled by a palliative care nurse. The five biggest regrets/wishes are:

  1. wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected.
  2. wish I didn’t work so hard.
  3. wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. wish I’d stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. wish I’d let myself be happier.

Courage. Live truly. Play. Express feelings. Touch. Happiness.

C.L.T.P.E.F.T.H. is a word game worthy of befriending the 5 As of David Richo: acceptance, affection, allowance, appreciation, attention.

_____

At this moment in my life, I am attending to finishing my business in this life by:

  • appreciating and celebrating people sooner, on the same day or as soon as possible
  • not holding onto grudges with family, friends, coworkers or strangers
  • eating well, sleeping when and as much as I can,
  • writing more and more by honoring the urge when it arises
  • telling my parents, siblings, more females and males that I love them
  • sharing the ways that love looks
  • letting go of the need to have someone say “I love you, too” after I tell them of my love.
  • responding “thank you” (rather than “I love you, too”) when someone tells me that they love me
  • eating chocolate and baking cookies or bread more often
  • accessing compassion (for others and myself) quickly
  • slowing down
  • recognizing that the only person’s who’s accolades and approval to concern myself with is me

regurgitating poison

yes, the vitriol, the hurt, the despondency that people are experiencing and spewing is intense. sometimes it feels like people are regurgitating the poison that’s been fed or forced into them.

i have been cautious, quiet and calm about not being subjected to too much. the systems of media and cable tv are as complicit in this moment as a courtroom in florida. and then getting small glimpses of the behavior, and wrong-speech has been humiliating. so, i have been around few dosages of it.

and, i was writing about my mixed race self on monday morning, which i shared with a friend. how my mom’s whiteness — as the only (wholly) white person in a six person family — connected me to cousins who have given me life, experiences, knowledge and stories that have been instrumental in cultivating compassion for someone who is racist. that has been a doorway for me to be compassionate, and just be with someone who is misogynist, sexist, abusive. and compassion has given me a better sense of my own self to note when i am splayed out emotionally, psychologically or physically.

so, it is an intense moment. our humanity is ill, and this is one more reminder and instance of it. yet, there are still ways to find life, goodness, love, brilliance and beauty in everyday interactions.