“The world we have is fracturing. The world we want is coming into focus.”
~ Yes! Magazine
I started Thanksgiving this year with the simple intention of taking a walk with a good friend and ended up entering a war zone. These are the times we are living in.
Let me tell you what happened...
First we chose a mutual meeting place between our two houses - SE 37th and Hawthorne. Now some of you in Portland might already know where I’m going with this. As I approached Hawthorne, I noticed a lot of broken glass on the side walk but didn’t really think anything of it. Just a kind of normal sight on a typical day in a somewhat big city, right? But then I raised my gaze and looked around. Broken glass EVERYWHERE! The huge windows of Fred Meyer, Wells Fargo and New Seasons - completely smashed in. We walked along the deserted street reading new graffiti scribing things like
“Fucksgiving”, “land back” and “Fuck your thanksgiving”. Apparently a group of “people in black hoodies” (as they were later described) opposed to the holiday, binged on violence and vandalism in the early hours of the morning and caused an insane amount of damage to seemingly as many store fronts as they could before getting arrested. It was both impressive and disturbing.
For those of you who don’t know the history of Hawthorne Street in Portland, it use to be hippie central, lined with head shops, home-made boutiques and ma and pa natural food stores. There use to be street musicians and homeless kids in moccasins on the corner selling beautifully made artistic jewelry for far too little. It was a place to get crystals and herbs, incense and books, and gently kill a day in tie dye bliss.
Today it looked like a boarded up ghost town with a tinge of strain and frizzion still in the air. Fractured.
We continued to walk up Mt Tabor… Our intention was to get some exercise, breathe good air and soak in the peace and tranquility of nature. At one point on the trail we huffed and puffed up a major incline so we separated a bit and took off our masks in order to breathe. Ahead of us was a woman (going downhill I might add!) with her mask on. She was over 25 feet away from us and there were literally hundreds of feet of hikable terrain to her right where she could easily have moved if she was concerned about our temporarily maskless faces. She began to rant and scream at us about hiking protocol and mask wearing - and I mean, -wow- she was a bit out of control! (I guess “mask shaming” really is a thing). When I mentioned something about what a nice thing it was to be screamed at first thing on Thanksgiving morning (OK, OK I WAS being a wee bit sarcastic myself, at this point) she took it up a notch and screamed that “Thanksgiving is a day for thieves and murderers and is only celebrated by fascists.”
Just… wow! I walked away from this experience really feeling for us all. I’m not upset by this woman, sure she could have asked us politely to please step off the path or to put our masks back on and things would have gone more smoothly, but I mostly just totally feel for her. I could almost see the pain she was wearing on her skin. The raw, painful, stressed nature of her made my heart expand to everyone right now. Things are just so ragged and real right now and I think it’s beautiful. There is such potential in the cultural soil right now.
It's time for change. Everyone feels it, we are living it everyday and politics and the Pandemic won’t let us forget even for a moment that the time is NOW. These are the times we have been waiting for. We are the heroes and villains of history in the making. So, even though it might go contrary to popular opinion, I kind of celebrate the people shooting out windows and covering our walls with red spray paint, I celebrate the women who, so on the edge, feel momentarily better after yelling at someone on the hiking trail.
But I also think they are taking an easy way through all of this. I am wondering if there might be better ways to blow off steam? I am wondering if we might accomplish more actual positive change if we take a different tact. I am wondering if it is possible to weather a revolution through kindness and right action.
I walked back to my house with a new resolve. To be kinder. To set the intention that at the end of my time on Earth, when I am looking back, I want to smile at the fact that in the face of abject political corruption, in the face of racism, classism, sexism and homophobia, in the face of unending stress and cataclysmic change - I remained kind. I still chose love.
I have been thinking up all kinds of things I can do on a daily basis to remind myself of this. I would love for you to write what you do in the comments at the bottom of this blog as well. I know we can be kind. Here are somethings on my kindness list:
1 - starting a zoom book group with lady friends who I miss
2- starting everyday with a mindfulness meditation
3- sending one card a week to someone in my life who I am thankful for
4- walking outside in nature as often as I can
5-giving my family a lot of hugs
6- watching comedies on Netflix and Amazon Prime
7- NOT watching the news
8 - filling a local food library
9 - reading out loud to my family...from a book!
10 - flooding my social media posts with love…
I know we can make change and still be kind. Tracy Chapman sang it herself, "Talkin' about a revolution sounds like a whisper." I understand the rage and have that in me as well - but acting on it just leaves me feeling like my own inner ghost town. Fractured.
“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see”
All too often this year I found myself listing all the things that 2020 did to myself, my friends, my family, my city, state, country and planet. All too often I focused on how awful it has been - and I am not messing around - it has been an AWFUL year.
The Pandemic also revolutionized my daughter’s relationship to education in a really powerful and positive way. The death of a family member brought the still living closer to each other - healing old wounds and creating loving space in which new young ones can thrive. The new mom has been able to work from home and hold her four month old baby on her lap instead of sending her to a daycare. The election brought out more voters than we have EVER had in the history of our country. I learned how to bake with sourdough! Every day people have gone out of their way to protest for what’s right, to cook for the hungry, to find options for the houseless and jobless. We have witnessed kindness beyond boundaries. We have learned how to get very creative on Zoom. One strange side effect of 2020 for me has been that for the first time in my adult life feel consistently well rested! There are so many tiny silver linings that are the seeds for this new world we are collectively creating. It’s unfolding right before our very eyes. We are the revolution and I am so hopeful that it can be a revolution of love. So as 2020 comes to a close, where is your focus? Can you find and just keep listing the silver linings?
“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one come to you without leaving happier.” ~Mother Theresa