We Are the Ones We’ve Been Waiting For

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On this turn around the karmic wheel, one of the life lessons that I’ve had to learn the hard way — no, the really hard way — is that we just have to face unflinchingly how bad things are.  We have to deal in facts.

In my defense (and I still want one of those t-shirts that say, “In my defense, I was left unsupervised and the moon was full” because that’s pretty much the story of my life), I grew up in a religion, on books, and on movies that had only one inescapable lesson for girls:  “If you just love hard enough (sacrifice enough, believe hard enough, are pretty enough, work hard enough) you can change anything.

So, if you’re married to an abusive man, the answer isn’t to face how bad things are and to act (divorce him and start over again) based on those facts.  No, the answer is to just love harder, try again, be prettier, give better head, cook more sophisticated meals, spend less of his money.

If you work in a toxic organization, the answer isn’t to face how bad things are and to act (get a new job) based on those facts.  No, the answer is to just have a better Filofax, get more training, put in more hours (and more, and more, and more), network more, do more planning for meetings with your toxic boss, create more innovative business plans, write better briefs, read more cases . . . .

But now I’m an old woman and, if I haven’t accomplished much else on this turn of the wheel, I have learned that we have to face the facts as they are and then deal with them.  Pretending that if we just lose a few more pounds, just get a better organizer, or just try do more interval training, that will fix everything — that pretense lets us put off the inevitable, but it doesn’t really fix anything or help us to move forward.  It lets us do those things over which we think we do have control and ignore the fact that sometimes (too often) the universe is random.

So, I’m going to agree (with a caveat; see below) with several of my readers who’ve basically said, “Wow.  Shit is fucked up and bullshit and I hate this.”  Mrs. Whatsit wrote about this when  she said, “I’m Not Going to Lie to You.”  I think that I was trying to write about this in my Prayer for Imbolc   (shepherds have to wade across flooded fields even when sheep are dying).  Right after Trump was elected, people quoted Charles Schultz:  “My idols are dead and my enemies are in power.”  That was how it felt after we gave what we thought was our all to elect the most qualified person ever (who happened to be a woman) against the least qualified person ever (who happened to be a toxic male) and — lost.

And, then, putting our faith in our democratic institutions and norms, we all tried to ignore the facts and just move forward.  We wrote (I know that I did) to every member of the electoral college, we went to the Women’s March, we registered voters, we created blue wave after blue wave, we ran for office, we called our reps, we wrote postcards, we protested, we donated money, we got our representatives to impeach him.

And.  And, it wasn’t enough.  The Russian blackmail saved him in the Senate and then he felt liberated.  He’s firing patriots, intimidating judges right and left, appointing Nazis.  Our idols are dead and our enemies are in power.

So, sure, we’re all having dark days.  It wasn’t supposed to be like this.  We can’t believe that we’re still having to protest this bullshit.

I could send you to Wendell Berry .  I could, and I will, quote Langston Hughes, who wrote:

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
Bare.
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

But more importantly, I’ll remind you, as Mrs. Whatsit did, that we are literally the survivors of those who survived.  We are the souls and the carriers of the deep genetic code of those who kept on going through the ages when ice came right up to the cave entrance, who crept uninfected through the Black Death, who slipped unsinged through the Burning Times (we are the daughters of the women you didn’t burn  — or whom you burned too late), who withstood the potato famine, who clung to life through the Civil War, who survived Dunkirk, who watched Viet Nam come and go, who lived through HIV/AIDS . . . .

What I’ve learned is that I can’t indulge myself in the myth that if I just love hard enough —  have a good enough organizer, do enough yoga, meditate with enough pine-and-sage incense, work enough 80-hour-weeks — everything will be alright.  I can’t just rely upon the norms of a 200-year-old democracy, donate enough money, force my arthritic wrists to write enough postcards.

In fact, we’re out here on untested grounds.  Not since, at least, ancient Rome has democracy been under such stress.  And, back then, it failed.  The oligarchs took over.  Then it all collapsed.  Then, it took centuries for democracy to try again.

So what’s the answer?  How do we go on?  I recently asked an old apple orchard these questions.

And, you know, the answer is always the same:  Face the facts.  Do what you can.  Hope that others will join the trip.  Hold up your sisters.  Do the magic you can.  Wait for the other side to become overconfident and then seize the moment.

Guard the mysteries.  Constantly reveal them.

Believe that we will win.

Even if we lose, we will live again in the blood of our descendants.  We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

Don’t give up.

For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
What hope can you offer?
Picture found here.

 

Words for Wednesday

Jefferson_edgehill

Enlightenment

~ Natasha Threthewey

In the portrait of Jefferson that hangs
        at Monticello, he is rendered two-toned:
his forehead white with illumination —
a lit bulb — the rest of his face in shadow,
        darkened as if the artist meant to contrast
his bright knowledge, its dark subtext.
By 1805, when Jefferson sat for the portrait,
        he was already linked to an affair
with his slave. Against a backdrop, blue
and ethereal, a wash of paint that seems
        to hold him in relief, Jefferson gazes out
across the centuries, his lips fixed as if
he’s just uttered some final word.
        The first time I saw the painting, I listened
as my father explained the contradictions:
how Jefferson hated slavery, though — out
        of necessity, my father said — had to own
slaves; that his moral philosophy meant
he could not have fathered those children:
        would have been impossible, my father said.
For years we debated the distance between
word and deed. I’d follow my father from book
        to book, gathering citations, listening
as he named — like a field guide to Virginia —
each flower and tree and bird as if to prove
        a man’s pursuit of knowledge is greater
than his shortcomings, the limits of his vision.
I did not know then the subtext
        of our story, that my father could imagine
Jefferson’s words made flesh in my flesh —
the improvement of the blacks in body
        and mind, in the first instance of their mixture
with the whites — or that my father could believe
he’d made me better. When I think of this now,
        I see how the past holds us captive,
its beautiful ruin etched on the mind’s eye:
my young father, a rough outline of the old man
        he’s become, needing to show me
the better measure of his heart, an equation
writ large at Monticello. That was years ago.
        Now, we take in how much has changed:
talk of Sally Hemings, someone asking,
How white was she? — parsing the fractions
        as if to name what made her worthy
of Jefferson’s attentions: a near-white,
quadroon mistress, not a plain black slave.
        Imagine stepping back into the past, 
our guide tells us then — and I can’t resist
whispering to my father: This is where
        we split up. I’ll head around to the back. 
When he laughs, I know he’s grateful
I’ve made a joke of it, this history
        that links us — white father, black daughter —
even as it renders us other to each other.
*****
Picture found here.

A Message from My Friends at the Kremlin Annex

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You might have missed it. The media certainly didn’t give it much attention, but on February 13, Trump threatened an entire state.

This was after announcing that his administration would be banning renewals for the Global Entry program for New Yorkers, and only New Yorkers.

[Then, he hinted that he’d allow renewals when New York stopped investigating his crimes.]

It’s another Ukraine-style shakedown. “Nice state you have there.  Shame if anything were to happen to it.”

This is exactly what one of the impeachment witnesses warned would happen. It’s an unprecedented abuse of power and the media has largely shrugged in response.

This is where you come in. We wanted to come up with a creative way to respond to Trump’s threat and say We the People refuse to be bullied. From this, the #KremlinAnnex crew created the #NoTrumpShakedowns challenge.

We need people from all 50 states (plus DC + territories!) to take pics of themselves with signs that say, “I won’t let Trump threaten (insert state here).” Post the pics to Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #NoTrumpShakedowns.

Include local landmarks or something your state’s known for in your pics, if you can.

I’d especially love to get pics from New York.

If you’re not on either Twitter or Instagram, feel free to leave your pics in the comments and I’ll link to them.

Thank you!

Monday at the Movies

Happy Valentine’s Day

Valentines-Day

Because we could all stand a little more love in our lives.

My favorite poem about love:

[i carry your heart with me (i carry it in)]

e.e. cummings

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

(source)

And a few of my favorite love songs:

It doesn’t have to be chocolate and champagne and a romcom if you’re more of a gin and popcorn and sci-fi person, and I definitely DON’T recommend dining out (it’s amateur night), but do something to make yourself AND the people you love feel extra-special today. Whether you’re with a special one, special several, or just your own special self.

Image found here.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

I Really Want to Go

Words for Wednesday

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With Valentine’s Day so close, I thought I’d share this again.

 

This is a prayer to Aphrodite.  This is a prayer for Resistance.

This is a prayer for love and beauty.  This is a prayer for Resistance.

This is a prayer for wine and roses.  This is a prayer for Resistance.

This is a prayer for orgasm.  This is a prayer for Resistance.

Turning my eyes from ugly times, I cry to the Goddess of Beauty.  Beaten down again and again, I cry to She Who Enjoys.

“Aphrodite!” I cry.  “You wear sea foam, You stand on a shell, You are surrounded by cherubim.  Send, Great Goddess, Your cherubim to bring beauty back to the world.”

My Goddess lifts Her left foot, Her left foot covered in foam.  She shakes off the foam and begins to dance.

This is a prayer to Aphrodite.  This is a prayer for Resistance.

This is a prayer for mirth and irreverance.  This is a prayer for Resistance.

This is a prayer for perfume and starlight.  This is a prayer for Resistance.

This is a prayer for artists and lovers.  This is a prayer for Resistance.

In a time of cruelty and hatred, I cry to the Goddess of Love.  Out of sorrow and deep depression, I cry to She Who Stirs Passion.

“Aphrodite!” I cry.  “You take many lovers, You admire Your own beauty, Your shining eyes light up the world.  Turn again, Great Goddess, Your eyes upon us that we may remember why we Resist.”

My Goddess looks at Herself in a mirror.  My Goddess takes joy in her own beauty.  Slowly, She holds the mirror up to us and invites us to see what we can create.

This is a prayer for foot rubs and sex toys.  This is prayer for Resistance.

This is a prayer for dancing and music.  This is a prayer for Resistance.

This is a prayer for the reasons why.  This is a prayer for Resistance.

This is a prayer to Aphrodite.  This is a prayer for Resistance.

 

Picture found here.