Last time I sent out a Zero Point blog (an intended monthly blog) was shortly after my brother Rick died and I wrote about how we often don’t know what to say in our losses and grief. (Thank you for all the reach-outs and kind notes.) Six months later I ask myself, what now?
Should I even write a blog?
I feel an erosion under my feet and am not certain of where to step next, or how.
When I sat down to write this, Netflix popped into my in-box with: “We have a new show for you!” I have, I admit, binged watched a few shows this past year. (One worth my and your time is The Good Fight.) But, overall I am stuck with what to do. How to respond to what is going on right here in my own neighborhood and country. I texted a friend in North Carolina with the message: “I’m wondering, when I am lying in my bed too old to move, what will I wish I had done?” Not done with my life, done now, in this time of environmental, social, economic and political crisis. A time where everyone around the world lives with the pandemic. A time where we are on a threshold between something we have hardly named to something yet to be named.
I spent the weekend gardening and landscaping. Which is a passion of mine. As I dug up ferns from another’s land to transplant them into my yard, it felt good to work hard, get dirty and be outside. My yard is my canvas and this work tends to something inside me.
Am I beautifying the world and neighborhood? Or is this just an expression of my white privilege? How does it serve to do such simple and pleasurable actions in such tragic times? Is donating money, wearing a mask, making masks, giving food to the local pantry, sharing a poem or writing a blog, and simply being kind, enough? Should I join the protests? Put up more yard signs? Try and get my novel published? Or, sell my house to go join up in some real cause? Which cause? And, how will I let this whole experience change me in a good way? If I stay put I have to continue spending a significant amount of my time making a living. Is that enough?—to stay put and continue with, what up to now, has been meaningful work? I tend these questions like possible transplants. Who am I now? Where do I belong? Where is the best place for me to be?
How can we be present for both sides of a difficult conversation?
I want these questions that we hold to open us up to our imaginations so that we can see what is possible.
I guess that is my prayer now. To let what’s happening open us.
“A life that wishes to honor its own possibility has to learn too, how to integrate the suffering of dark and bleak times into a dignity of presence. Letting go of old forms of life, like a tree practices hospitality towards new forms of life.” O'Donohue, John. Eternal Echoes, HarperCollins.
John O’Donohues message resonates with me, then again, isn’t this ability to even tend to my being present part of my privilege? The thing is, dignity of presence can and has shown up in the most difficult places. Like those 5 black men who circled a police officer who got separated from his comrades during a recent confrontation. There are everyday heroes and heroic moments that are taking place, during these disturbing times. Let’s give that our attention too. Let our “dignity of presence” give us a way to contemplate the questions we need to explore, and to consider what we might do differently.
Like the plants I dig up and then transplant --- I need to tend to these rising questions while they are uprooted, otherwise they may wither and dry up. Sooner or later, they need to be replanted. Soon enough we will be called to make some choices of where to place our self. We are being called to be at this threshold with each other and live such questions. I know that most of us will cross this threshold in our own way both alone and collectively. What are your questions? What calls you to explore while at this threshold? What holds you in the old world? What draws you toward your new horizon? (What is your new horizon?) At this threshold there are opportunities to discover and recognize what it is we truly want, are capable of, and who we are, now. And who we can become as writers and citizens.
I do invite you to keep writing that blog, or poem, or book and to hit the send button. (from where ever you might be.) In my writerly soul I know that you staying in this conversation in this way matters.
“Imagine young men and women in your country and neighborhood being routinely sent to war, working in hospitals to deal with a pandemic without safety masks, or confronting such daily horrors as hate crimes, gun violence and sexual assault. Imagine further that those in power expected these young people to sacrifice themselves on the altar of the economy, false patriotism, and revenge, at a time when guns, money, and autonomy outranked dignity, community, and justice. Imagine further that you chose to act against these injustices to serve your people as best you could and defend humanity and democracy. “ –the first paragraph to my upcoming book, The Clue of the Red Thread. which I rewrote this past month.