I am writing this through a fine layer of ash. Los Angeles is burning. The sky has psoriasis. Flaky white hot snow. The falling ghosts of burning brush. It feels oppressive. I long to be elsewhere. I long for a cool breeze. For tall trees. I have an image in my head of a coniferous embrace, face pressed against the bark of an ancient thing. Connected to what is reaching for the sky. The light. The clear blue. Yet here I am, breathing through a rust colored haze. Looking out at an endless stretch of scorched earth shrouded in smoke.
I know there are other realities out there even if I can't see them. I know that despite the apocalyptic scene I am facing, north of here there is a cool stream running through a dense and peaceful forest. Alive and growing. And I know that despite all the bad news that is clogging every feed, there is good news unreported. I know that for every horrible thing a human is capable of, there are equal and greater greatnesses being attempted. I know there are humans petting baby goats, and laughing with friends, and feeding those who are hungry. I know there are humans rubbing tired feet, and walking excited dogs, and tossing ecstatic children overhead. Catching them. Teaching them it's safe to fly and it's ok to fall. There are people who love you enough to catch you on the way down.
We're so eager to share videos of violence and corruption and greed. We're so eager to comment, to spew, to almost relish the depravity of it all. Yeah yeah, humans can be really fucking awful. Humans can also sing songs and write poetry. Humans can wonder at the stars and build machines to take them closer. What are we trying to prove? That the world is in fact ending. Every single moment, the world is beginning. We give shape to the world. What stories do we tell our children? What stories are our children telling us? And do we listen?
Now please don't get me wrong. My heart is breaking too. I hold an ocean of tears for the injustice and bigotry and inhumanity that is playing far too great a role in shaping the reality we are all trying to cope in. I am disgusted and horrified and devastated plenty. There is no shortage of sadness for the hurt that humans are inflicting on others and on themselves. I would love to have the answers. I would love to heal the world. I would love to have the right words to convey my care, my compassion, my ache to somehow fix things, make things better. But at the end of each day, at the end of each long scroll through my social media feed, it's just me. Overwhelmed. Speechless. Trying in the ways that I am able to simply be a person others would want to share the day with, or invite to a birthday party, or ask for help moving. Just a human trying for unbiased kindness. Hoping to inspire tenderness. Striving to bring some semblance of peace to a hectic afternoon. Small gestures.
I believe in the magnitude of love in small scale. I believe that you can change the world with a silent touch as much as shouting from the mountaintops. Some people need to be loud. Let them. We need their voices. And I am grateful for their courage in speaking. But some people need to speak volumes in quieter ways. Let them also. It does not mean they don't care. It means they have different ways of sharing their care. Sometimes in our hope to right wrongs, we use the language of the oppressors. We become dogmatic and insist that there is only one way to fight the good fight. But in hoping for tolerance and equality, we must extend the same grace towards that which we are seeking.
I understand that there is a lot of anger right now. I understand that there is plenty to be angry about. I understand that anger has a place. Anger is sadness put into action, no longer willing to be helpless. But pain moves people in different ways. We need to leave space for all the ways we are trying to make sense of this great big wound. We need to hear all the words. We need to try and understand all the truths. And yes, sometimes we need to sit in silence too. We need to keep striving. Hoping that in the multitude of voices, the diversity of experience, the variations of expression, there is a truth universal enough to heal the chasm. I want to keep my heart open to that possibility. That one act of violence hurts us all, especially the one holding the gun. While each act of love, of acceptance, of care, heals us all.
The people that sell us the news are stuck on projecting the image that shocks us most. The world the screens are showing us is a bleak and awful place. We need to be careful about what lens we let ourselves look through. We need to adjust our focus. And then, we need to paint a different picture, every brush stroke, every color.