Reclaiming oneself in a hellscape
Dispatch #11: Cultivation of those things that make a soul felt
All of last week I had a knot in my throat. I have felt alternately numb, enraged, terrified, & hopeless. I haven’t known what to do, where to even land my gaze, how to be. Perhaps you too have been in a sustained state of heartbreak.
I wandered room to room, vague in my intentions - what did I even come in here for? what should I do next? - forever about-to-cry, not sure how to put my hands to use.
At one point, I found myself in a stupor in a beam of sunlight by the kitchen counter, just as the sun was beginning to set. Slowly, I jotted down notes on a grey-blue notepad gifted by Angel.
The thoughts could appear disjointed to others, but to me they felt related. Or at least touching shoulders in a dark room.
It feels like we are all doing that these days.
As pundits scream, as it seems like nothing is changing, as the lights go off again on hope & humanity, so many of us stand still in the darkness, hoping to feel the soft touch of another aching human, shoulder to shoulder with us.
The days are filled with humans inside small screens saying guns are not the problem, with easeful, almost cherishing, dismissal. The days are filled with other humans, weeping, screaming, rightfully enraged, trying to convince those other humans - it’s insulting to even have to spell it out - of the worth of a child’s life. I look up from hours of scrolling, of helplessness, of hellscape. I don’t want to mindlessly scroll anymore. I want to touch real things. I want to rip up paper. To put marks on a page. My soul, whatever it is, cannot watch one more politician dimly smile (don’t some of them seem to smile beneath their diatribe?) while explaining the need for guns, the birthright.
I am sorry, soul. Mine, & all. I imagine a different world. I want to move toward it. I want to make the soul felt.
One tried-&-true way I know to help regain my peace to face the world, to help my soul return to itself, is to create.
Paradoxically, the soul - a horse at the most brutal edge of hydration - can only sip water from one source: the soul. Pundits won’t nourish. Terror may wake its thirst, but it can’t heal it.
The soul needs soulfullness.
When I tear up paper, start a poem, or put a failing pen to a page to make a mark, I am returning to myself.
Each prioritization of intimacy has resonance. These acts are not the tap of a spoon against thin metal. They are gongs. Whenever we aim for intimacy - with ourselves and with others - we create an extended sound that resounds into the rest of our lives.
I may have looked like a woman in a stream of sunlight jotting notes. But I was not simply this. I was a warrior banging a gong; a warrior for self-nurturance, for humanness, for intimacy, for all that they try to strip from us with their blood-mongering war-talk. With their dismissal of Trans lives & joy & power. With their rabid greed & startlingly confused, dehumanizing laws.
If you too have felt helpless please consider donating to or participating with:
The National Covenant Shooting Fund, a fundraiser set up by Victims First, “a network of surviving victims of mass casualty crime & trusted supporters who have first-hand experiences of the problems & re-victimization that accompany these acts when there is a lack of coordinated effort &/or understanding of what survivors need.”
Celebrate Trans folk! This twitter thread, “My grandpa just died at 102. How did he react to me telling him I'm transgender?” made me cry.
Join the Rest Movement of The Nap Ministry. Much of my own re-centering (whether through art, rest, meditation, etc.) is invigorated by the Black radical thought uplifted by Tricia Hersey. As her book delves into, we don’t rest or care for ourselves to become better producers for capitalism. We rest & care for ourselves because it is our human & divine right. Rest is about more than vacations or spa days; it’s about justice. About the expansive, beautiful fullness of being a human being. About resistance to grind culture, capitalism, & every single toxic demand on our spirits, minds & bodies.
To all who observe, Ramadan Kareem.
Over the past few weeks I’ve witnessed my partner & friends adjusting their lives - & with it their minds, bodies & souls - by fasting, welcoming newfound states of clarity, centering, & perception; welcoming too, new priorities. There is a fasting of food & water, yes, but also a fasting from less savory habits, a calling forward of more ethical ways of moving through the world. Angel recently shared a prayer on her Instagram story, which I found particularly beautiful & have kept close over the difficulty of the last few weeks.
Du'a for Light
"Allahumma if al fi galbi nuran wa fi basari nuran, wa fi sam' i nuran, wa' an yamini nuran, wa' an yasari nuran, wa fawqi nuran, wa tahti nuran, wa amami nuran, wa khalfi nuran, waj al li nuran”
"O Allah! Place light in my heart, light in my sight & light in my hearing, light to my right & light to my left, light above me & light below me, light before me & light behind me, let there be light for me."
We are faced with much darkness. Remember, the light is for you. It is meant for you. Do not be afraid to call it in. Know that as you call it in, your shoulders brushes with others who are calling it in. May we each foster our own seed in a garden of light; may we grow an abundance of light - of clarity, openheartedness, & warmth. May we call forth this reality & be deserving of upkeeping its miraculousness.
With ample maple syrup,
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