My favorite horoscope writer, Ralfee Finn, started her weekly blog with this: “It’s a week of wobbling time signatures. On one hand of our imaginary clock, we are very much in the present, yet on the other, the present is perfectly blended with the future; and on the third hand, the past is recurring at irregular intervals, making some of us uncertain about where we actually are in the space-time continuum. Boundaries are an issue, especially when it comes to overlapping agendas, and all of these wobbling realities are sure to over- stimulate nervous systems. . .” It was so accurate!
As I have tried to keep up with everything, I have found myself at times angry – no, righteous, actually – about just how out of whack our priorities seem to be. Evidence needed? The incredible disconnect between our elected officials in Washington, DC and the real, urgent, and demanding needs of people I know who are without shelter, healthcare, and/or food.
I have also found myself weeping; saddened by the death of a close friend whose presence in my life had been a beacon for over 20 years. Adjusting to her no longer being here is a sharp reminder to me to not to take this thing called life for granted. Of course, at this stage of the game, these leavings are becoming more frequent, but no less challenging.
I am excited about some new professional opportunities – new folks to collaborate with, new avenues of advocacy to pursue – yet, I carry a weariness with me borne not so much of the energetic demands of these activities, but of the deluge of despair that is found in others who have resigned themselves to no longer having any influence or say. What is the point of starting anew, when the world is coming to an end?
Acts of Defiance
Rather than succumb to this, I decided to commit some acts of defiance. Mind you, this is not easy, because I was raised to be a “good girl”, and good girls do not act defiantly. First thing I did was get up. That counts as an act of defiance in my book, because right now it is so much easier just to pull the covers back over my head and say, “To hell with you all!”
The second act of defiance was to tell a friend I loved them. We don’t do that enough these days. Having made that announcement, I noticed that I actually felt a bit lighter.
Third act of defiance was to not turn on the TV. I confess, I did take unusual delight in sneaking a peak at MSNBC’s coverage of the second Republican debate. But I only watched their pundits gloat for an hour or so. Instead, I read “Up Home”, the autobiography of Ruth Simmons, whose life is a testament to defiance!
Finally, I gave myself permission to hope. This may have been my greatest act of defiance. Every indicator, every source of “news”, every ad on TV seems to point to certain death. Of course, from a reasoned actuarial position, this is true. I am going to die.
Recently, one of my clients had a short stay in the hospital. She asked me point blank, “Am I going to die?” I knew the answer she wanted to hear. I knew the answer I wanted to give her. I wrestled with the best way to share the news that she was actually going to live a bit longer, but that, at some point, she would die. I finally said, “Not today.”
And that was the act of defiance that gave me hope. I remembered the teaching (apparently, I need reminders more frequently), that while I am going to die, until I do, my greatest act of defiance is to live.
Acts of Courage
Which brings me to acts of courage. The current posterchild for “Most Courageous” is former White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson. Her story is remarkable; her place in history assured. What has struck me in reading her book, “Enough”, however, is not her role in our current state of political chaos, but her selective sharing of what seems to have been an incredibly difficult and traumatic childhood.
That she overcame all this, found a way to love her country, devoted hours to serving those elected and named to the highest offices in government, and then who told truth to power in front of all of us, should be used as a case study of how to be a patriotic citizen.
While this is in the current “top 10” of news briefings, I am also reminded that it was just a year ago that Hurricane Ian caused such horrid destruction in Florida. How quickly we forget. Since then, wildfires have decimated Lahaina, Maui and Oregon, and floods and earthquakes taken the lives of tens of thousand of people in Morocco, New Zealand, China, and India. Yet, I have become numb to it all.
A true act of courage is to allow the totality of loss and sadness to well-up inside me, knowing that it could very well be me next time. Here the courageous are every-day, plain folks who find ways to feed, clothe, shelter and offer solace in a world that no longer is predictable.
Which brings me (for the moment) to my balance point. I was up very early this morning and was gifted with a brilliant, full Harvest moon. Truly, the light was so bright, I could have sworn it was sunrise!
I thought, “I should take a picture of that!”, but instead, I chose to keep the experience to myself, slowing down long enough to be taken in by the totality of it all. The chill of the air. The anticipation of a new day. This teetering between seasons.
I made a choice to pay attention to the moon, illuminating the fulsome vineyards awaiting harvest, that predictably, inevitably would set, as it has done forever. I made a choice to be present.
What is challenging these days is knowing what to choose. Where should I put my attention at any given time? The numbers of things that demand I do something? The people I feel an obligation to assist? My own needs? The commitments I have made all pull on my attention span and require that I select and prioritize.
The consequence of not choosing is that I am exhausted; emotionally, psychologically, and sometimes physically. The “pause that refreshes” is shorter and less refreshing than it used to be. And then I remember.
Choosing to Sit With
I have a choice. I can choose where I put my attention. I can choose to just “sit with” instead of “react to”. And when I remember to do this, I experience a certain spaciousness. I find there is a letting go. I find moments where I can just exhale.
And this brings me back to Ralfee Finn’s observation of being in the wobbly present, with the past nipping at my heals, and the future competing head-to-head with it all. It occurred to me that the moon, in all its Harvest Glory, probably did not contemplate its fullness in this moment. It just shined. And the grapes probably weren’t fretting about whether or not they were going to be picked today or tomorrow. The fruit just hung there, in all its sweetness.
I figured if they could do that, then I could just be grateful to have been given another day to be me.
6 responses to “Acts of Defiance, Acts of Courage: Choosing”
I needed to hear every word of this today. Thank you, Mary!Loading…
Wonderful blog, Mary. For me it’s all about remembering that we all have what I call “The Choice.” The choice to (a) Be, and (b) to continuously and alertly Be Present. All too many people have responded (and do respond) to their Very Small Data Sample of a less than supportive childhood — by unawarely assuming that all of Life is, and will always be that same disappointing way — thus blinding themselves to myriad better opportunities. Getting beyond what we may have been “used to” and instead opening and falling into making The Choice (to be awake) . . . seems to be the task of living, a most rewarding task! Making that choice is an independent variable from all the daffy things our species may be doing on any given day!Loading…
Brilliantly done and a much needed reminder!Loading…
Today’s blog shines on me like that moon and its fulsome illumination. I will read it again, slower, But for the moment, I’ll just say that this one is a great gift.Loading…
You are describing so much of my daily experience to a T. It makes me feel like I have “company”. On top of that, I so enjoy your writing.Loading…