We must try harder

It can be difficult, sometimes, to remember that we’re all human.

It’s exhausting to think about all those human lives playing out simultaneously; all those innumerable experiences overlapping and interlinking and co-creating our shared reality. All those emotions. All that suffering and trumph and longing and relief. All that love and all that loss. All those lives as rich and meaningful and fragile as our own. All happening right now, all over this planet.

It’s easier to think mostly of ourselves and our lives and our experiences. To use ourselves as a proxy for everyone else. To relate to people from our place, not troubling ourselves to stretch beyond the reach of our comfortable imaginings – not really thinking it necessary.

We can be good, kind, empathetic people and still be complicit in atrocity because we are simply, blissfully, unaware – because we complacently just carried on living our lives, treating people as we’d want to be treated, thinking that was enough, assuming that the things we never thought to imagine don’t exist.

But when they do exist, and when they’re terrible, and when they’re killing and terrorising people, then we’re failing our fellow humans if we don’t look at them square in the face. If we don’t trouble ourselves to uncomfortably, painfully, excruciatingly imagine what it is like to be like them.

We will never know what it is like to be something we are not. But we can listen carefully to those people who are, and we can draw inadequate parallels, and we can stretch our imaginings, and we can learn to understand as best we can. And we need to, if we want to save this world.

I am grieving the loss of George Floyd, and so many others I am too ignorant to list the names of. I am grieving the loss of humanity that led to their deaths. I am horrified, on behalf of all humans, by what has been done to our people, by our people. And I am painfully aware that, right now, we are not one people, and to suggest such a thing may, in fact, be deeply offensive. I am scared to navigate this terrain because, in so many ways, I have no right. But I do have a responsibility.

Fixing this is all of our responsibility, and we should have already stood up. But if, like me, we hadn’t, well we damn well need to stand up now.

I’m a lifelong coward, and I’m just not-white enough to get a nice tan. I don’t know shit. But here are some people who do:

Austin Channing Brown

Rachel Cargle

Prof. Ibram Kendi

Ancient wounds

Today has been a difficult day.

The reasons are layered.

I have been gifted more cake than a person can eat, and I have thus eaten more of it than a person should eat. Substituting real nutrition with delicious sweet baked goods has put me on the back foot.

A situation in my personal life has triggered old wounds and the echoes of past hurts have been unleashed to bounce unhelpfully off the walls of my mind. I have not yet wrangled them into their proper place.

Last night I realised I had not been paying proper attention to the tragedy of George Floyd and the cascade of rebellion that followed. I decided that today I would inform myself. Merciless heartbreak preceded my morning coffee.

How have I dealt with it? I sat in the morning sun with my coffee. I followed some antiracist accounts on Instagram. I read some articles, and bawled my eyes out. I painted a canvas black. I thought about what I could possibly write here that could maybe, somehow, in some insignificant way, help this situation. I watched a video of a terrified young black man being harrassed by police at gunpoint while his family tried to protect him, and bawled my eyes out. I briefly entered the fray of the comments section, heart racing with fury and apprehension. I went for a short walk that did not soothe me. I did some housework while singing along to Petals For Armor. I sat in the afternoon sun listening to the inane conversation drifting out of my neighbours’ kitchen window. I climbed into the sanctuary of bed at tea time, and stayed there for a few hours.

I don’t know how I will move forward. Big things can’t be solved so easily.

Draw the line

It’s surprising how easily old patterns can creep up on you.

Today I caught myself in the old habit of ‘absorbing damage’. That is to say I was putting in extra work to process the emotional fallout of someone else’s choices. When I didn’t need to accept that. There was nothing real in it for me. I should have just returned to sender.

In autopilot, I had followed the path of least resistance instead of the path of most integrity, and it left me feeling drained.

The alternative does feel heavy handed. Having boundaries is hard. But letting reopened wounds bleed out onto the rest of your otherwise untarnished life is stupid. So heavy handed it’ll have to be.

Happy birthday to me

So, I’m thirty.

Seems like about time.

I feel thirty. Not young, not old. Much like twenty-nine, or thirty-one, but just a little bit neater, wrapped up with a bow.

I don’t see much significance in the number. I wondered if I would once it changed, but I don’t. I’m sure that over the next year, various implications of being in a new decade or whatever will filter through to me as part of the becoming process. But I don’t feel I measure my age as much by the number I’ve reached as I do by the body I inhabit.

I say this because what gives me far more pause for thought than the digits on my birthday cards is the changing texture of the skin on my face. The altered waist-hip ratio. The stiffness in my joints. The many acquired scars. The signs of wear. The mileage. I have been paying attention to these lately, contemplating the impact of my choices on the form I find myself wrapped in.

Becoming a mother aged me. In so many ways. And so dramatically. I think, for me, any disturbed peace that may have been caused by this ‘milestone’ birthday was already surrendered to motherhood.

Looking at myself in the mirror is different now. I have had to concede that I don’t totally like what I see. That I feel like a compromise. That I look better in clothes than I do naked. I have had to work to be okay with my vessel again. And I worry about how it will be received by another. And I accept that this is all a normal, possibly approaching universal, human experience, in one form or another.

I’m okay with it. But it’s still tinged with regret. I look forward to transmuting that into something more joyful.

The slippery slope of cake and lost vegetables

For a while during this, I impressed myself with how I managed my life. For the person who finds it difficult to keep to a toothbrushing schedule, living a boundaryless life in the slippery time-space of home, with a fucking TWO YEAR OLD to boot, sounded like a bad idea.

But I kept us eating healthily, we exercised every day, I planned enriching activities, I got done what I needed to get gone, I deep cleaned the house every week, I planned ahead and I kept on top of things. I took care of us well, and I had fun doing it.

Now it’s getting stale.

I mean, it had to be expected. But I’m still a little disappointed in myself.

I’m thinking about pizza and I ate two slices of cake tonight. My son’s bored of the exercise routine and I can’t be bothered to think of any more ways to make it new and exciting. Sometimes now when he asks to watch TV outside of a TV-designated time I just say okay because, frankly, that sounds quite nice. I noticed the bath felt kinda grungy tonight but just filled it up anyway. I might run out of vegetables this week. And I didn’t clean my teeth until 6pm.

It’s all totally fine, but just a little bit blah.

And the reason I’m writing this, really, is so I can laugh at myself, because OF COURSE IT FUCKING IS. There were totally some good, useful, nurturing, relieving things to come out of lockdown for me. But this is not how we are supposed to live. It’s weird as shit, and it’s getting old. Just let it be what it fucking well is, Yve.

Part of me is clearly worrying that I’m on the slippery slope of a tragic descent into complete disorder. And in fairness, that is possible. I’ve descended into complete disorder before. But I don’t think that’s where I’m headed. I think I’m just a perfectly human human, humaning in a perfectly human way.

Maritime industry

Sometimes, things happen in life. It feels quite rare to me, that things happen. My life generally feels peaceful and uneventful, a millpond rather than an ocean, and sometimes I feel like maybe I should splash about a bit more just to make some ripples.

The reason I sometimes feel like I’d enjoy some more ripples in my life is mostly just for the practice. Ripples (or better yet, waves) tend to rock the boat, and I’d like to keep my sailing skills sharp. Because occasionally, the waves do come to me, and I don’t want to be overturned by them.

Anyway, my boat is rocking right now. At first it was exciting. Now I just feel a bit seasick. And I realise I need to ask the right questions to steady my ship. At first I was asking about the waves, but there’s only so much information you can glean about external and unpredictable forces. I realised today the questions I need to start asking now are about my ship. What can it withstand? What is it capable of? What are its weaknesses? Where could it go from here? Is it better to wait this out, or set sail for calmer waters? What trajectory should I set?