i. what luxury time is now you have stopped doing things to read words slowly read them slowly ink and page and when I went running this morning I filled my lungs with air and time and time told me in a voice like water to slow down and feeling full I was overcome with the gift time is now slow down I told myself running when I was young everything was a race always in a hurry fasterfasterfaster of course the course held my competition always stopwatches spectators guns and lines and lanes a beginning an end pretend that’s what life is go ahead exhausted before you begin I’m not racing anymore slow down I tell myself I’m not shaving seconds off my time I’m not I’m slow and observant and thankful thankful for the luxury of time now. ii. I slowly embrace a certain somber mood sometimes surrounded by city people yelling selling things there are always things to distract from those thoughts you know the ones I mean once I was peeling an orange slowly and I was overcome with the gift time is now I sit like Wordsworth in vacant and in pensive mood not pushing the pen but allowing a slow and sad thought like a lonely leaf like a lovely leaf falling slow and sad and somber it’s ok to be sad I tell my sons there’s time for that we have time now not everyone does it was a sad thought remember that reminded you you cared and that’s worth the time now running in the now not worried to win because actually we’re winning already albeit slowly.
so I’m running again and when my feet hit pavement I turn and wave at the fading woman behind me she’s there but barely I rarely turn but today I turned feet facing forward head craned back she is still and sad and there but barely I turn the corner and wonder if there will be anything or any pieces left of her when I get back back when I held the pen again and again she told me no couldn’t won’t wait for the right word so I sat pen in hand couldn’t write the right word at the right time I sat still and still she’s there but barely but now looking back I see her sadness and feel it the sadness the stillness unwillingness to run and unwillingness to write and even as I write now right now she is fading with every word.
So I wanted to be a writer specifically in fourth grade I had read The Phantom Tollbooth both my brain and pen were in motion to create characters! and adventures! and new worlds! and invisibility and flying, of course my beautiful and wise and kind fourth grade teacher Mrs. Smith assigned a book to write and right away I got started too excited to wait and now decades later after abandoning and forgetting then doubting and dismissing my ability (I didn't have a Mrs. Smith encouraging and validating and smiling and loving me) three decades later the weight of writing is being lifted because I've begun to write again decades later I've begun to create I wonder if I'm too late but anyway I write I've turned the faucet back on and on and on I write "in spite of everything" like kid and kid and kid and I kid you not that words are bursting and roaring and coming out of my soul like a rocket So I want to be a writer and, Bukowski, what I want to know is when is want enough?
I fall asleep dreaming of poetry words lined like lemmings one by one marching off the cliff tumbling to terrible deaths but my words march off lines black words on white page tumbling into life because that's what we poets do poets do but for a long time my words lined like lemmings died too I'd thought I was only a possible poet I wrote it those words on lines keeping time maybe rhyme but into the bin they went sent to certain death next to an oily tuna can I killed those words I chose that I murdered words they're dead I fall asleep dreaming of dead poetry and wonder about words whether I can bring dead words to life I find peace, though in letting them go so I write new words black words on white page tumbling into life.
just as I sit pen poised to write a poem un colibrí flits to feeder feathers vibrating alert and watchful but drinking in sweet water I am distracted by birds I have words trying to flow from pen to page but I am distracted by birds philosophical ponderings life and love and learning yearning to write but right now I am distracted by birds you say go to another room to another table but I'm unable because I want to be distracted by birds.
un colibrí — a hummingbird
At the beginning of [chess], there are no variations. There is only one way to set up a board. There are nine million variations after the first six moves. And after eight moves there are two hundred and eighty-eight billion different positions. And those possibilities keep growing. There are more possible ways to play a game of chess than the amount of atoms in the observable universe. So it gets very messy. And there is no right way to play; there are many ways. In chess, as in life, possibility is the basis of everything. Every hope, every dream, every regret, every moment of living.Matt Haig, The Midnight Library
What an analogy to life! You make a decision, thinking you know the outcome or the desired outcome or the correct outcome. We moved to Ecuador for our family to have a new experience and make a difference in our community and become bilingual. And while the first two are actively happening in wonderful ways we could not have predicted, the third is sliming along at a snail’s pace. Not what we imagined. I tell myself that the time and effort it is taking for all of us to learn Spanish might provide experiences and (embarrassing) memories that we will come to cherish. This time and effort might be making us into better humans. I can only hope so. Because if I don’t, my forehead will start looking for the nearest brick wall.
You might remember my announcing with great grandeur and flourish that I’m going to write a book, a terrifying but exciting decision. But I felt ready. I had the support and encouragement of a successful author and educational consultant. I had a good idea. I had the work ethic.
I sat at that chessboard knowing that my first move would be just that — the first move, of many. But I also knew that my first move would be the start of a game that I would win. And winning meant that I was going to publish this book. Not a bad way to play a game, knowing that you’re going to win and knowing what winning looks like.
So I got to work. I wrote, I edited, I pondered life’s mysteries, I drank coffee. I compiled my work into the required proposal format. I sent it off to a large educational publishing company with humility to know that it was my “reach” publishing company. No surprise, I received my first rejection letter a few weeks later. I was pretty sure my first move would result in this.
Oddly, I felt a sort of pride receiving this, knowing that most great authors out there have experienced rejection. I was all set for this rejection to be a wonderful chapter in my becoming a great author story. And, really, this big bad publishing company didn’t even know me. Why would they take a chance on a complete unknown author when they didn’t have to? Well anyway, I changed their message.
I created the closure for this rejection and moved on in stride. I went back to the proposal drawing board for the next company. Now this company — this company was the one my mentor recommended as a good fit for me and for the type of book I was writing. I pored over the proposal, checking everything. I didn’t want a single apostrophe out of place. Suffice it to say, I was very nervous submitting the proposal. I probably checked over the email and the attached proposal for 20 minutes before simply pressing that blue SEND (while holding my breath and twitching my toes).
In a few weeks, I received the reply.
You know, I felt like I had a knight-fork chess move going with those two publishing companies. Surely I would get one, but there was a countermove I hadn’t expected, and I lost my knight. (Steve helped me with this one: a knight-fork move is when a knight is attacking two pieces at the same time.)
Jen, you again
Because losing my knight didn’t mean I was going to lose the game. I still had all my major pieces. I had my queen and two rooks (or if we care to remember the analogy to life — I still had my physical and mental health). I would keep playing and doing my best. But I was sad all the same. And that was OK.
Wipe the tears away . . . and ONWARD to the next publisher I go. I rewrote and reorganized my proposal to fit this publisher’s particular format and even added some details that I thought would help. Looking back, this third proposal really was the best. I had been so confident in my first proposal and then even more in my second, but those two rejections had forced me to see that my best hadn’t been that first or second proposal. It was my third. I was feeling good. Again I waited the several weeks for a reply, and when I saw it sitting unread in my email, I had butterflies. This could be good!
Neat. And, you’re welcome for the bit about the iPad and melatonin! How exciting that you liked that! So so great!
This trying-to-publish-a-book thing is not for the faint of heart. Luckily I have a nice strong heart. So that’s one thing goin’ for me. And a wee bit of creativity to bring me out of the black and white chess game for a little break.
And speaking of movement, I remember another tidbit of advice Mrs. Elm, the wise librarian from The Midnight Library, gave to the hapless protagonist, Nora:
. . . a pawn is the most magical piece of all. It might look small and ordinary but it isn’t. Because a pawn is never just a pawn. A pawn is a queen-in-waiting. All you need to do is find a way to keep moving forward. One square after another. And you can get to the other side and unlock all kinds of power.
All you need to do is find a way to keep moving forward. And I’d humbly add to that: AND NOT GET CAPTURED BY THE ENEMY AND DIE. Simple yet powerful advice for playing with a pawn. And for living life. And for trying to publish a book in the time of COVID when publishing companies have had postponements and they’ve downsized and they’re only going with sure-deals and they’re only looking at known authors and
Interestingly, two friends recently gifted me with the book Get to the Publishing Punchline, by Joy Eggerichs Reed. I devoured it. It was an easy, fun, funny read, and I enjoyed it. But it was discouraging, too. I read through all the advice Reed gave, and for most of it, I can say that I enthusiastically followed it. But just like reading a chess book can’t prepare you for every possible move you might need to make in a real game, reading a book about publishing didn’t help me for this particular move in this publishing game. But it might for the next move.
That is, when I figure out what that next move will be.
So that’s what’s on the agenda for me: stare at the chess board and do some serious thinking. Perhaps it’s time to pay a little more attention to my pawns.
And, hey, if you know of any good educational publishing companies out there, let me know. I’ll take all the help I can get.
There is always a time to say it with fresh eyes, a fresh voice, and, frankly, an alive voice. And if you are alive, and something is in you to write, get it out.Joy Eggerichs Reed, Get to the Publishing Punchline: A Fun (and Slightly Aggressive) 30 Day Guide to Get Your Book Ready for the World
The sting of a fly, the Congolese say, can launch the end of the world. How simply things begin.The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
Even though we are still lumbering through this pandemic — this pandemic that all simply began with one itty bitty bat (or an itty bitty pangolin, or an itty bitty lab leak) — when I read this quote from The Poisonwood Bible, I don’t think of a global pandemic that started with one infection and led to over three and a half million deaths.
I think of my own grief.
And when I realize this thought process of mine, I feel selfish. How can I possibly think of my personal grief when people are dying every single day in every single part of the world?
So I’m selfish. Because there are so many simple things that happen in the course of a day that launch me into the thick gray fog of grief.
Lately, everything reminds me of my mom.
When I tuck my legs up on the couch to read my book, I think of how my mom would tuck her legs up the same way.
Mini emotional breakdown right there on the couch.
Washing dishes the other night, I got to thinking about how my mom would keep her house so sparkly clean all the time.
Full, heaving sobs over the sink of dirty dishes and soap suds.
I made brownies tonight and was excited to add toasted walnuts to the batter. I remember my mom first discovering the magic that is brownies with walnuts and talking to me about it, going so far as to add a bag of them with a boxed brownie mix as part of a college care package.
Overwhelming sadness and nostalgia.
I sat down at the piano tonight to sing and plunk out the chords to Toto’s “Africa” and thought of how my mom wanted so badly for me to enjoy playing piano and here I was doing just that.
Fat tears. While I’m playing “Africa.”
When I watch old episodes of Call the Midwife, I think of how my mom would have absolutely loved watching that show with me.
Just miss her so much.
Typing that just now, thinking about how silly it is to be sad from watching some random TV show — a show that my mom was never even alive to watch — a fresh spring of tears to my eyes.
How simply things begin.
And while I don’t feel like it’s the end of the world, I do feel deep surges of anguish.
It’s been 12 years since I got to hang out with my mom, watching HGTV on her couch, walking over to downtown Sunnyvale to shop at the farmers market, grabbing lattes at Peet’s Coffee and talking about hopes and dreams.
Time has made things easier, and yet, at the flip of a switch, at any moment, tears can start rolling down my cheeks. I’ve accepted it. And I’ve learned some things about my own grief that might help you:
- Accept it for what it is and how it manifests. For me, it’s mostly tears — sometimes at inopportune times. Oh, well.
- Surround yourself with people who can handle it. And who care about you. The last thing you need is to be embarrassed about your grief.
- Don’t suppress it. I’ve found that my tears are pretty cathartic for me. Maybe they can be for you, too.
- Find outlets for your grief. Clearly one of mine is writing, as you know if you’ve been slinking around on my blog. Singing and playing piano is another. Reading books here and there about other humans experiencing grief has been helpful to remind me I’m not alone.
- Love others. Tight hugs and shared belly laughs can do wonders. But also being able to channel some of those deep, heavy emotions into love for other humans can be a boon.
- Do something that scares you. Perhaps a jump off a zip line tower. Or perhaps a telephone call to a dermatologist’s office to schedule an appointment — in Spanish.
This past Monday, I called a dermatologist’s office here in Quito. I was terrified. Speaking Spanish is already scary, but over the phone? I hate calling to make appointments in the States where I can speak English! But, as I mentioned, I’ve been watching old Call the Midwife episodes, and in one scene, one of the midwives is terrified to do her first solo birth. She knows that if she makes a mistake, a baby or mother could die. So when I started dialing that Ecuadorian phone number, I told myself, “NO ONE IS GOING TO DIE IF YOU MESS UP YOUR SPANISH.” And that made things a lot easier. Thank you, Call the Midwife.
But after I successfully made my appointment and got off the phone, I felt transcendent. I could fly! I could do anything! Silly, I know, but it sure put me in a happy mood.
So there you have it: a great way to deal with grief is to move to a country where you don’t know the language well and make an appointment over the phone. Let me know how it goes for you.
Until then, tuck your legs up on the couch and read a book. Or watch some BBC and have a little cry. Preferably with someone you love. Happy grieving, Friends.
I always thought it was what I wanted: to be loved and admired. Now I think perhaps I’d like to be known.The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah
Never have I resonated with this more than now. (OK, well, maybe with the exception of middle school because that was a complete nightmare of no one knowing anyone.)
I left a great job teaching English literature at a school where I was loved and admired and known by students and teachers.
I moved to another country where I barely know how to communicate with other humans.
I am now a stay-at-home Zoom Mom.
Ah, how the mighty have fallen.
So I’m at home a lot these days. And Quito has just mandated stay-at-home orders for the next four weekends. I am not in a classroom, I am not teaching, I am not making lesson plans, I am not pestering my students about what books they’re reading. As a teacher, I am not known here. At all. I feel like I’ve lost part of my identity. But while I am sad that people here don’t know me and the skills I bring to the table, something exciting is happening.
I am learning new things. New doors are opening for me. Dormant skills are bubbling to the surface. Dare I say, I am getting to know myself better. And while it’s great to feel known by others, it’s also great to know yourself.
It’s funny that we float through life just assuming we know all there is to know about ourselves. We are the only ones with full access to our own brains, after all. But it’s scary how easy it is to simply flip off the switch, darkening most of that mass inside our skulls.
I have to stop and wonder what we’re missing here. If we don’t know ourselves, how are others supposed to know us? And don’t we desperately want to be known by others?
It took a seismic shift of events for me to realize that there’s more to me than being a teacher. And I bet it’s similar for most humans. Maybe for you.
I learned something new this week about the word “accident,” all because of my 9-year-old’s Spanish project that asked him to write about “coastal accidents.” My son and I were both very confused — coastal accidents, like shipwrecks? Natural disasters on the coast? We were struggling. Finally, after a desperate email to the teacher, we realized that the word “accident” refers to how various landforms come into being. A bay, for example, is formed through the erosion of rocks. In the Spanish language, this is considered an “accident” because erosion is not intentional. But go ahead and Google “Tortuga Bay, Ecuador,” and you tell me if that looks like an “accident.” I’d visit that accident any day of the week.
What a mindset shift to think of accidents creating beauty. And though leaving the teaching profession, moving to a new country, and becoming a Zoom Mom weren’t accidents, per se, they certainly were in line with a seismic shift of events. And let’s remember that during seismic shifts when tectonic plates collide (accident!), beautiful mountains are formed.
I am reminded of W. H. Auden’s poem “The Unknown Citizen,” a poem about a man who floats through life, doing things and saying things and being things. He is “normal,” “sensible,” “proper,” “popular,” and even a “saint” — descriptors we’d probably appreciate being said about us. His life is smooth — no accidents. But when he dies, we realize — with horror — that no one even knew his name. No one even knew if he was free. Or if he was happy.
Go ahead and read the poem. Take your time.
The Unknown Citizen W. H. Auden (To JS/07 M 378 This Marble Monument Is Erected by the State) He was found by the Bureau of Statistics to be One against whom there was no official complaint, And all the reports on his conduct agree That, in the modern sense of an old-fashioned word, he was a saint, For in everything he did he served the Greater Community. Except for the War till the day he retired He worked in a factory and never got fired, But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motors Inc. Yet he wasn't a scab or odd in his views, For his Union reports that he paid his dues, (Our report on his Union shows it was sound) And our Social Psychology workers found That he was popular with his mates and liked a drink. The Press are convinced that he bought a paper every day And that his reactions to advertisements were normal in every way. Policies taken out in his name prove that he was fully insured, And his Health-card shows he was once in hospital but left it cured. Both Producers Research and High-Grade Living declare He was fully sensible to the advantages of the Instalment Plan And had everything necessary to the Modern Man, A phonograph, a radio, a car and a frigidaire. Our researchers into Public Opinion are content That he held the proper opinions for the time of year; When there was peace, he was for peace: when there was war, he went. He was married and added five children to the population, Which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his generation. And our teachers report that he never interfered with their education. Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd: Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.
What a truly devastating poem. To go through your entire life, doing and saying and being all the things, only to die, in the abyss of obscurity.
It’s a reminder to us to live. To live in a way that we are known to others and to ourselves. And for that to happen we might have to endure some accidents. We might have to induce some accidents.
Leaving my profession, moving to another country, becoming a Zoom Mom — these things propelled me to dig deeper into what I have to offer to my community, to my family, to myself.
And digging deeper, I have discovered within myself something very exciting — something that has been waiting patiently for me.
That something? It’s a book. A book that I will write.
(I’m terrified. Maybe terrified like those tectonic plates when they were inching closer to each other, knowing they were going to collide and there was nothing they could do about it.)
When people look at my life after I die, I want them to see beautiful bays and mountains, knowing the erosion and shifting of tectonic plates it took to get like that.
Because sometimes it takes an accident to create something beautiful. And to be known.
But once you’ve proven to yourself that you can do a move or even an entire route, it’s like a tiny door opens inside your mind, and the belief that you can do it, that you will succeed, creates a powerful positive visualization.Mark Synnott, The Impossible Climb
I don’t know a whole lot about rock climbing. But there’s something about those granite walls and cracks and slab pitches that lures me in. I don’t need to do it; I’m happy in my platonic voyeurism of the sport. And I admire the mental keenness it takes to get from ground to peak.
The context of this quote is that climbers can fail again and again and again on one particular move, but once they complete it, they’re likely to complete it every subsequent time. Synnott mentions a certain “warrior spirit” that enables climbers to give just a little more to succeed on the move. And when they keep coming up short? He says that it could feel like an intentional fail, called “punting” in the climbing world.
I want to have a warrior spirit.
But isn’t it interesting that a whole phenomenon exists where people intentionally fail? I have to wonder what that looks like off the wall.
For the longest time, I failed at writing. Intentionally. I was an English teacher teaching writing who didn’t write — not really. And the reason I didn’t write? Funny enough, fear of failure. So let’s climb through this, rock by rock, crack by crack: I taught writing without writing myself. The fear of failure (negative feedback, judgment from colleagues and students) kept me from it. But listen: the actual failure was not “turning on the faucet” — not writing that first sentence, and then that second one, and then the third, the fourth, and on. That first sentence for me was like that move on the granite wall that the climbers just couldn’t muster the spirit to do.
It seems silly comparing a sentence to the wrinkle of granite being used as a hand hold. Sentences don’t seem quite as scary — or dangerous. But in my bubble, I felt like I was on that wall, holding on for dear life, refusing to grab that granite wrinkle. I’d rather stay frozen, splayed to the side of the wall. No progress. But a feeling of safety.
I’d rather fail than take a chance on that move.
But just like some of the great rock climbers who scale a wall only after experiencing a traumatic event (watch the documentary The Dawn Wall to see Tommy Caldwell succeed only after heartbreak), it took a traumatic event at my school to finally light that fire under me.
I recently became “email friends” with Berit Gordon, and she mentioned that teaching is an “oddly lonely endeavor.” So true. We teachers don’t get much attention or validation from our peers. What validation we do get normally comes from the students themselves, which is great, but they’re not in charge of scheduling, pay raises, tenure, etc. So when I came back to school after taking maternity leave in the spring of 2019 to my department head demoting me, I was stunned. I would no longer be teaching my beloved AP Literature class.
There’s a whole messy story behind it, but suffice it to say, I was traumatized. And even though formal apologies were later made to me and I didn’t completely lose my AP class (I taught one section; a colleague taught another), the damage had been done. To liken my teaching to climbing, for years I felt like I was basically alone on the wall, taking care of myself, making sure I was taking all the safety precautions, successfully making my way to the summit. And I felt very confident in my abilities.
But then, in the middle of being alone on the wall, someone came out of nowhere and started fiddling with my rope, unclipping it from my harness, pulling it loose from the anchor. And then I was alone again. Without a rope. Scared. I was at the point where either I needed that warrior spirit or I was going to fall to my death.
Finally (finally), I decided to write. My starting a blog and putting my writing out there for the world (reality: tens of people) to read was my way of free-soloing the rest of my climb. No ropes, just me on the wall at my most vulnerable.
And did I mention that I’d never been on this particular wall?
But I’m making it up, trying to hold on to that warrior spirit, allowing that tiny door to open inside my mind. And let me tell you, it’s freeing. I don’t need to actually climb up a mountain wall sans ropes to feel liberated from the boundaries of this world.
And that’s the beauty of the analogy. What is rock climbing for you? What is that move you just can’t let yourself do in life? And do you realize that it’s you holding yourself back, failing intentionally? It’s a harsh reality, but one that we can face. And this difficult move you’re facing — you don’t have to wait for a traumatic event to happen to force you to make it. Alex Honnold free-soloed El Capitan without just having broken up with his girlfriend (he did wonder, though, if he was in the right headspace because his previous climbing feat was a result of a bad break-up).
So make the move. And live the rest of your life believing that you can do it, that you will succeed. Meanwhile, I’ll keep tapping the keys, wondering what my next move will be. Because, remember, I haven’t been on this wall before.
And neither have you.
The baseboard may possibly have been loose because Roger had spent ten minutes kicking it, but for a man like Roger a truth is a truth, regardless of its cause.Anxious People, Fredrik Backman
The truth is, there is a no-peeing sign posted in a public park we hiked to last weekend. More specifically, a FORBIDDEN TO URINATE! IN THIS PLACE sign with a pic of a dude takin’ a leak. But if that’s the only truth we have, it wouldn’t really show the whole picture. And the whole picture is that there must have been enough of a problem of people openly peeing in this particular area to justify the bureaucracy paying for, creating, and posting a sign.
It’s silly to think that people didn’t have at least a little (yellow) influence on the posting of that sign.
It’s silly to think that by kicking and kicking and kicking Roger didn’t cause the baseboard to become loose.
There is action. And then there is reaction. Kicking the baseboard –> loose baseboard. Peeing on the fence –> posted sign on the fence.
It’s silly to think that we can kick and pee without taking any responsibility. Truth is there, but that doesn’t mean that a human didn’t kick or pee it into existence.
So I want to focus on those truths that come about because of human action.
I start thinking about the upcoming US election and the debates and the pandemic and the protests and the fires and the conspiracies. All of those came about from human action.
- The election: constitutional framers trying to create a democracy
- The debates: people realizing that the public would be interested in hearing the candidates talk about controversial topics
- The pandemic: person to person spreading
- The protests: people taking a stand against systemic racism among other things
- The fires: human-influenced climate change (oh, and a gender reveal party that used pyrotechnics — WHOOPS)
- The conspiracies: um . . . people with too much time on their hands? I don’t know on this one.
When we pee all over the place and then refuse to believe that we had anything to with the sign going up, what happens to truth? The truth is the sign. With no context. And that’s confusing.
Before 1950, carbon dioxide had never reached over 300 parts per million. Now it’s at over 400. It’s silly to think that big-truck-driving humans have nothing to do with that number (and neither do the cattle farting it up in the human-designed, human-built factory farms). Right?
What a life of luxury we must have to sit on our leather armchairs waving away all responsibilities of our actions and entertaining all of the conspiracy theories.
But guess what? We don’t have to be like kick-the-baseboard Roger. And we certainly don’t have to pee in public parks.
Because even if we doubt truth or get confused about truth or get swayed to distrust the truth, we can still be good humans.
Good humans take responsibility for their actions.
Better humans take action because of their responsibility.
I get it. The truth seems to be sitting on shifting sands. So we try our best. We don’t waste the precious time we’ve been given on this beautiful earth by retweeting the Babylon Bee actually believing that Twitter has shut down “Entire Network To Slow Spread of Negative Biden News.” As a quick aside, let’s remember that Babylon Bee is a satirical news site.
What is one to do, though, when it seems that all the messages careening towards us are designed to twist and spin and distort and dismay?
Here’s what I do. Maybe you might resonate with these ideas, too:
- Instead of doomsday scrolling, go outside and take a walk in nature. Breathe in fresh air. Look at the expansive sky. Realize how very small we are in the universe. Then look down at your fingerprints and appreciate yourself as a unique being.
- Instead of YouTube rabbit-holing, grab a notebook and write. Grab a book and read. Grab some string and make art from a random wooden frame you have lying around in the apartment, left by the previous tenants. Exercise. Work with your hands.
- Instead of fretting over politics, think about what you can vote for right now with your money. Yesterday at our little local grocery store, Santa Maria, I bought flour packaged in fabric scraps sewn together. For me, avoiding plastic packaging is a huge win. I voted with my money when I purchased my bags of flour. It’s just a small act, but it’s something — and something is certainly better than nothing. It’s also better than doomsday scrolling, YouTube rabbit-holing, and fretting over politics.
(Important qualification: Vote with your money, yes. But please, please also vote in the election.)
- Lastly: LOOK UP. Look up from your screens. Look up from your bias. Look up from your carefully curated construct of life. Look up so that you can see others that may need your help.
I really do believe that when we are face to face with the truth of people who need help, we help. It’s just that it’s so easy to sink deeper into the leather armchair, looking down at our screens, losing sight of reality — bit by iPhone bit.
“Lifting your eyes from the things of this world is an activity that must begin WHERE YOU ARE.”K.P. Yohannan
So look up, get up, and go do something good.
The truth? We can be good humans. Let’s start there.
Here are a few be-good resources:
- International Justice Mission, “a global organization partnering with local justice systems to end violence against people living in poverty.”
- Education Equals Hope, a mission dedicated to providing “for the education of those living in desperate and difficult situations” in Ecuador, Rwanda, Kenya, and Haiti.
- Us! We are mindful to vote with our money, and we vote to support the local people here in Quito whenever and wherever possible.