community · news · politics

The Myopia of Tragedy

Today a nearby school will be joining us in solidarity in response to the shooting in Pennsylvania, and I find myself harboring the same opinion I held when the Twin Towers fell:  This kind of tragedy happens all the time in other communities and other countries.  Why is this different?  Why do we only post a profile overlay of solidarity when there’s tragedy within our micro-communities or when there’s enough media coverage of it to warrant a hashtag?  What makes this tragedy more worthy of your time and attention than the daily trauma and tragedy of people who suffer under dictatorship, extreme poverty, famine, drought, war, Ebola, slavery, trafficking, abuse, racism and discrimination right now?

It feels so myopic to me, the minute ocular circumference of Americans.

I teach the novel The Watsons Go to Birmingham–1963 about the bombing of a church in Alabama when four little black girls attending Sunday school in their finest dresses were murdered.  In Texas just last year, 26 black people were murdered in church.  In 2015, there was a shooting in another predominantly black church and 9 people were killed.  The list, literally, goes on.

WHERE WERE THE PROFILE FILTERS THEN???

I feel sickened and ashamed that we only seem to care or notice when it’s happening in our own backyard, to our “own” people.  Is there simply so much atrocity in the world that we can only monitor what is our “own”??

And, if that is the case—that there is simply so much horror that we can’t process, own, or attend to it all—then why do any “honoring” of the slain anyway?  It feels so hollow to me to “stand in solidarity” by picking and choosing who we feel worthy of our time and bowed heads.

Who is more worthy of our brief attention spans?

It is not my intention to express that my way of dealing with tragedy is better than another’s, nor it is my intention to minimize in any way the suffering that happened this week or diminish the genuine grief of those affected.

But I feel impelled, and blood-boiled, to point out that if we stand together, then we must mean everyone.  If we stand together, then our action must be for everyone.  Humanity isn’t a pick-and-choose experience.

So, please, if you are “standing together” today, spare a moment or a piece of change or a donation or an expose story about all the other goddamned things that are harming humans around the world right f*cking now.

NYTimes: Shootings at places of worship

BBCNews: Sexual Abuse of Women in North Korea

Al Jazeera: Teenage Suicide Bomber in Russia

 

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growth · vision · worthiness

I turn the radio on, I turn the radio up…

halloween bear.jpgAs I complete the 21-day meditation, “Desire and Destiny,” we’re called today to “share our vision.”  To try to move from dreading the word networking to see that the more we talk about and share with others what it is we want in the world, the more able it is to manifest.  Deepak said, maybe it’s following the thought to go to the park where an idea is sparked or to go to a party (we don’t really want to go to) where perhaps we meet someone who can help our dreams come to fruition.

The scary thing about owning our dreams is that it puts them out there for the dreaded derision.  This fear of derision from others seems to be the motivation for hiding them that most plays out within me.  Next on the list of negative voices is the derisive voice from within myself that says, You’ll never follow through anyway, so why bother telling anyone or trying in the first place.

Both of these voices are tools … well, were originally tools for safety, actually, but they’re long outdated, and I don’t need to hide anymore who or what it is I want or am in the world.  But those voices haven’t yet received their invitation to leave in strong enough terms… and perhaps those voices don’t actually vacate the vicinity, maybe they just get turned down like a dial on a radio, becoming less distracting and thereby less convincing.

It’s easy, simple, and habitual to listen to the voices that say, You’re not good enough, your dreams are dumb, you won’t attain them anyway, you’re a queen of self-abandonment so why try.

But, it is also soul-crushing and life-limiting to listen to them.

So by the opposite tack, it is harder, more “effort-ful,” and not at all ingrained to upvote the voices that say, I am good enough, my dreams are worthy, I will attain them in whatever time, order, and manner I’m supposed to, and I can become a queen of self-support so I’m excited to go out and try!

Yeah… that feels silly and saccharine to tell myself.

But frankly, I, Molly, am nothing if not silly and optimism-sweet, so I better pump up the volume.

 

Happy Halloween, Everybody!:)

 

children · joy · mortality

Creating a Life Worth Living.

Salted-Caramel-Ice-Cream-3-527x794.jpgPerhaps it’s my status as a cancer survivor, but I think about my own mortality a lot.

On Sunday, J and I walked to the Punjabi Burrito place in Fairfax (which, yes, is as magnificent as it sounds!!!).  We were having the, “So if this is really happening, what about kids?” conversation.

We’d discussed having kids before.  Within the first month of dating, I let him know that I wanted to have children if I could, that it felt really important to me.  Two years later, it still does.

Sitting eating a pumpkin basmati rice enchilada(!), I said my reasoning was still partly about sharing this awesome thing called life.  As I’d put it then, “Yes, the world is f*cked up and falling apart and dying… but it’s also amazing and fascinating and rich.”  As I said to my friend on the phone last night, “Only humans get to experience salted caramel ice cream.”

But I noticed on Sunday something new within me, a new reasoning.  I told J that the idea that once we’re gone, that’s it, there would be no one to remember, no legacy to live on, no lineage to carry forward, that it felt empty to me, or sad or like an absence.  That, with us, the branches of our family trees stretching back millennia would just end felt … like an incompletion, a void.

I said it reminded me of Macbeth: “Out, out, brief candle!”  (To which J replied wryly, gamely, “Yeah, that’s totally what it reminded me of, too.”);)

J’s concerns about having kids are typical ones: the expenditure of time and money.  Which, of course, are real, relevant, and not miniscule.  But.  So what, frankly?  All of life’s endeavors require time and money.

I told him that I wasn’t “Closed Book” on the having kids subject, that if he were truly able to lay out a vision of a life together that felt fulfilling (that really did include the pieces he wants that he’s afraid he won’t have if we have kids), that I’m honestly open to listening.

I want fulfillment, too.  I want him to feel fulfilled, too.

Our visions are not at odds, but whichever way they go will require openmindedness on the other’s part.

So: We’ll see.  This life thing is so good — and I’m so awed it includes salted caramel.

 

abundance · gratitude · healing

Owning Abundance.

10.29.18.jpgOn Friday after work, I was taking down the garbage from the Marin house, where J lives and where I’m apparently moving into (!).  As I was descending the stairs, a woman a little older than me was parking her car outside and getting her small son out of the car.  Many people turn around or park in the cul-de-sac where we live, walking dogs, playing, passing through the pedestrian short-cut, so I didn’t consider it odd, but she kept observing me.

She walked up to the front gate and asked, “Do you live here?”

I wasn’t exactly sure how to respond—since the answer was “sort of”—but I replied, “Yes.”

She told me then that she and her family used to live here when it was a rental property of the former owner and asked if a package had been delivered for her.  As it turned out, I was supposed to drop a “return to sender” package we’d received at the post office, but hadn’t done it yet… so YES!  I had her package.

She was kind of dancing around the front gate, unsure of where to be while I retrieved it.  Her son said something that he meant to approximate, “We used to live here.”  I told him that as I was cleaning up the yard the other day, I found a green plastic stegosaurus — was it his?  Did he want it?

He said yes (of course), so I invited him and his mom into the backyard to get it from where I’d placed it on the fence post, a reminder of the families who’d lived here.

He snatched it out of my hand, his mom asked me a question about the house, commenting a little shyly on how different the backyard looked now (without any furniture!).  I wasn’t quite sure what to say.

I walked them out the front gate and off they drove.

I was struck by the fact that I felt embarrassed.  I felt embarrassed and almost ashamed that this woman and her family were kicked out of the home where I now live, where J now lives.

Clearly, that’s absurd, but it’s also how I felt.  That I was somehow to blame, as I was party to the choosing of this house, for her family having to vacate and move.  (The 2nd bedroom has those glow-in-the-dark stars still on the ceiling in real constellations from where they’d placed them.)

The “fault,” if there is one, clearly doesn’t lie with me.  It was a home that was being sold no matter what, and J happened to be the person to buy it.  The family was going to be asked to move no matter what.

But I felt embarrassed to tell this woman that I was party to owning this home.  That I do, in fact, live here.  That this abundance was mine.

This is the piece I’ve been sitting with for several days now: for years, I’ve been talking about abundance, wanting it, working toward it, “attracting” it, visioning it, vision-boarding it.

And now here it is and I feel toe-in-the-dirt shy to say I’m achieving some part of it.

A person could roll their eyes at the woe-is-her struggle to own abundance, but the truth is I think many of us struggle with owning our achievements or our successes or our overflows.

When I was living in San Francisco in a 1bedroom, I had social gatherings and parties regularly because I felt so fortunate with my abundant space that I wanted to and had to share it with others.  Those gatherings were one of the most joyful experiences about my time living there.

The wonderful thing about having abundance is getting to share it more widely.  If I eschew it, avoid it, don’t have it, or don’t embrace it, then I’m not really getting the full benefit of it at all — and would be better off back in a small life that I can feel embarrassed of for entirely different reasons!

“Owning abundance” was never something I foresaw would be a challenge, but having to shed the smallness and embarrassment that is arising in me will be a journey worthy to undertake.

How can we hold the excellent and wonderful things in our lives with equanimity?  How can we honor what we’ve worked for or have been given with gratitude, awe, and celebration?  And… are we allowed to?

 

love · mortality · relationships

The Days Are Long…

10.26.18But the years are short.

I invited J to lay on the wood floor with me.  We were in the house he’d purchased earlier this year in the northern suburbs of San Francisco, him sitting on the camping chair I’d brought over last week and me on the nice single chair he’d purchased since he moved in this June.

That’s all the furniture that exists in the living room.  Right after he’d purchased the house, I’d ended things and this isn’t the kinda town where a single guy wants to spend out his days.  So he hadn’t bought anything besides a mattress and this one nice chair.

“Lay on the floor with me,” I asked.  It was after 9 o’clock; we’d been sitting in the nice and camping chairs, drinking hot tea, lazy talking about the house, next steps, ring sizes.

He groaned.  “Come on, two minutes.”  He scrabbled up out of the camping chair and came to lay next to me on the blanket I’d set on the floor.

I nuzzled into his shoulder crease.  It was likely the only time we’d be able to do this before it all got painted and furnished and shaped like a lived-in home.  It felt like a picnic, like a marking of time, that time we could lay on the floor together at 9pm on a Thursday only now, before it was too late.

I angled to lie on top of him, propping myself up, looking into his face.

“It’s so short,” I murmured.

“What is?”

“Twenty-five, thirty-five years,” I replied.  “It’s so short.”

I got kinda teary, staring down into his eyes that I didn’t get to see for three months, feeling body warmth I didn’t get to experience, hearing the wry, insightful, hilarious, ridiculous, planful words I didn’t get to smile at.

I saw the New Years’ turnings, flying off like film pages.  They seemed at that moment like just a handful.  Only a few, what felt like only a sample.

“It is short,” he said, closing up his eyes against new wetness himself.

“The days are long, but the years are short,

and I want to spend them with you.”

 

commitment · community · self-support

Act our way into right thinking.

10.25.18.jpgBecause of the change in my commute status (insert gif of woman doing backflips), I no longer have to slog through an hour of bridge traffic anymore, but I also don’t get to participate in the morning phone call with like-minded folks I’d been calling in to for 2 months either.  So, I’ve had to make some adjustments.

On Monday, and once since then, I called in to a new phone line geared toward Artists.  It’s the same overarching community, but this daily call is intended to focus on the particular challenges artists and writers may face as they attempt to get out from under their own thumb.

I hadn’t intended to, but I piped up during the “3 minutes each” sharing time and at the end of the call, during the “phone number exchange,” a woman requested my number and reached out to me the next day.

We spoke by phone last night (she’s in Chicago) and just having the call helped me to see that maybe I’m not stalling out in my personal work and progression — and maybe (just maybe!!) I’m not going to.

I had my Goals Group call on Tuesday and admitted to them too that I was afraid of not “doing much” after the highlights of the article publication and two performances this month.  So, yesterday, I emailed my piano player friend to talk this weekend and brainstorm what was next.  After Tuesday’s goals call, I also spoke with one of the women on the line to ask how on earth to find an easy way to email out these blogs (just through WordPress without having to go through extra steps — if you know, please message me!!!).

With the addition of the woman who called yesterday (we set up an “action phone call” for Sunday to support each other in our personal progress writing), I realize that there are several barriers around my visions work that are now set in place.  Even if I want to flake off, hide, retreat, sloth away my time, I kind of can’t get far!

My hems and frames now include: action partner whom I text daily (sometimes it’s a list of things I don’t do! but sometimes I really do!) and speak with weekly; a weekly Goals Group call (that includes women who are “watching,” as one of them put it, to ensure I don’t dissolve into the relationship); a mentor with whom I’m completing personal progress work (but seeing as I haven’t been doing that writing, I now will have…); a weekly writing action partner to carve out and sanctify this writing time.

Many of these hems were not in place when last J and I were in relationship.  Nor did I then open the discussion with him, as I did last week, about ensuring that I have my morning practice held in trust (morning pages, meditation, blogging).

I can point to the places where “I’m not doing anything” or “not working hard enough” or “not fast enough” — I really, really can (and sometimes do!) — but I am so heartened to be able to point today to places where I’ve created and invited in structures that will not allow me to flake or stray too far.

For a person like me, these structures are vital—in the literal, life-sustaining meaning.  Without visions, goals, writing, meditating, speaking with fellow travelers, or taking mini-actions, I lose hope, momentum, self-esteem, and eventually I threaten my existence.  I know this about myself.

So, here I am today, 6:53am, 3rd cup of coffee on the table, telling you how much I want to live.

 

breakups · love · relationships

Everything Old is New Again.

10.24.18.jpgAs you may have guessed from my recent vaguing about relationships, I’m in one.  To be more specific, I’m back in one.  With J.

I was walking to meet an internet date for dinner on a Friday night at the end of September.  I’d planned it so it was in walking distance from my apartment and I didn’t have to drive, as is my prerogative!;)  I’d gotten glammed up and looked good — well, I’d taken a shower, at least!

I was cantering down the commercial corridor where I live and spotted a car that looked like J’s.  But I’d seen many of those around—each time, spotting a blue Subaru, darting my eyes through the windshield, assuming it wouldn’t be him since he didn’t live close but had been about to accept a job nearby when we’d parted in June.

Now, I spotted this familiar looking car.  Then, I read the license plate.  It was his.  My eyes flashed through the windshield… and there he was.  Sitting in his car, typing on his phone.

My breath stopped.  I came to a halt beside his car.  He looked over.  He both smiled and looked horror-struck.

J. rolled down his passenger window.  “Getting a haircut?” I asked.  (He’d found a place he liked when we were living together and, once found, he was unlikely to veer from it!)

“Yep,” he replied.

We remained there, just kind of staring at one another.  Eye-lock, look away.  Eye-lock, look away.

We exchanged a few update words:  You change jobs?  Yep.  You start the school year?  Yep.  I fiddled with the window frame.  Well, this is hard, I said, half-smiling, somewhere near tearing up.  Yep.

Somepoint soon, within this 3-minute conversation that reached to the horizon, we said goodbye.

Later that night after the date (underwhelming but fine), I dialed J’s number.

I’d texted about two weeks earlier, on the 90-day mark on my calendar that indicated it’d been 3 months since we’d spoken, my own self-imposed separation/no-contact.  I’d written him if he were interested in being in each other’s lives, “friends or something.”  He’d replied he’d love to, but he still saw a future for us together and it would be too hard, too painful.  I typed okay.  And resigned to / accepted that he would contact me, if and when he were ever ready, or not.

So, as the phone rang that Friday night in September, I didn’t know if he would pick up.  The hurt of the break-up, the hope and pain of seeing one another.  The love that had clearly not diminished an iota. … the constant comparison of J to any of the men I’d met or communicated with during my recent re-entry into dating.

No one was like him.

Our first date lasted two hours.  We walked and talked and laughed.  We were wry and joking from nearly minute one.  There was such ease and familiarity … he could always make me laugh.

I wasn’t immediately sure after our first date.  I went home and took the quiz I’d bookmarked, It’s Just a F*cking Date (from the authors of He’s Just Not That Into You and It’s Called a Breakup Cuz it’s Broken).  He didn’t score record highs after that first date, partly because two of the questions were “did he make a plan?” and “did you like his plan?,” but I’d made the plan!  (Coffee shop in walking distance of my house, naturally!)

But, he’d squeaked over the line to, “Give him a second shot.”  So I did.

On the 2nd date, he scored full marks.

The phone rang.  I perched on the edge of my bed, heart a bit full, a bit poundy.

And he picked up.