Most mornings I wake up feeling pretty darn fortunate. Not all mornings, of course, but more often than not.
I’ve always had shelter, food and clothing. I’ve always been surrounded by people whom I love and who love me. I’ve faced very little adversity, loss or personal tragedy.
I’m a white woman in a democratic country. I’m college-educated. I’ve lived in metropolitan and rural areas, both by choice. I’ve traveled across oceans, tasted cuisines around the world, met people from all walks of life. I’ve danced in the desert beneath a complete lunar eclipse and rode white water that nearly killed me, just for the thrill of it. I’ve had time and resources to Create, in myriad different forms and at all different stages of my life.
I should be seriously thanking my lucky stars, God, and everything in between for this gift of a life.
Why, then, do I often feel so irritated about undone dishes and forgotten laundry or misplaced power cords and dead batteries? The societal rules and tasks of motherhood, of partnership, of household care, of general life administration in our crazy world weigh me down like water-logged wings on a dragonfly. They are the masters of flight, and yet, if their delicate wings become too saturated, they can tip upside down and will never be able to right themselves.
I feel my own delicate wings collecting dew of late, a heavy spring dew made from the tears of so many people in so much pain. Multiple times in the last week I myself have wept, absolute soul-deep weeping, because I’m lucky and others aren’t.
I don’t have to worry about the police killing my partner while my child is seat-belted in the back seat. I don’t have to train my child how to handle an interaction with the police. I can be pulled over and feel safe. I can get help from the police instead of murdered by them when someone tries to rob my home. If I raise my voice to someone in authority, I’m seen as excited or scared instead of angry and dangerous with ill-intent. I could even go to jail and be assured of not ending up dead. Some people in this country don’t have these luxuries, and I don’t know how to handle the fact that I do.
So I find myself angry at the dirty dishes and the other ridiculous imperfections in my silly little life, as if trying to control the mundane will make the issues that are so out-of-my-control somehow less troublesome. I feel helpless, impotent, despondent, as half of the world screams for help and the other half laughs and points.
Right now, nothing creative that I used to pour my heart into feels important. Angle Days fast approaches, and I’ve done very little to prepare. The Northerly Park funding application sits and waits for me, but I’d rather lose myself in practicing piano or dirtying my hands in my container garden. I’m getting selfish. I’m losing interest in others. I love this little community but I made the mistake of wanting the community to love me back. I held unconscious expectations, a rookie mistake.
When I pray about my role here in this place and how to let go of the silly grievances, I am given the same answer again and again.
God tells me to Give.
I have not yet asked what I am to do about these greater social injustices that weigh so heavy on my heart. Maybe I’m afraid of what I might hear, as if a part of me knows already. I know I am the minority in this community, in this northern rural Minnesota. I would wager that most here feel proud about being born white, as if they did something to deserve it. Most staunchly defend the blue, even when there’s video proof of their fatal mistakes. But we haven’t stood in the shoes of those who fear them, those who are being killed by them, those who are six times more likely to go to jail than white-skinned folk for the exact same crime. The authorities seem to need more non-lethal training, more racial sensitivity, but I’m no expert. I process what comes before me and feel my way through life based on all the filters I’ve accumulated so far, just like everyone else.
As a woman, I know that if I were raped I would have to prove that my character, clothing and lifestyle didn’t contribute to the crime. That seems something akin to what non-whites go through, so my useless guilt is somewhat alleviated. One in four women will be sexually assaulted. I have three sisters. While in my twenties, I experienced two separate instances of a Trump-endorsed “minor” assault that very well should have been reported to the police. But there was this unnamed, built-in belief that it wouldn’t be taken seriously, that “boys will be boys”, that I shouldn’t report it, that it just needs to be forgotten, never talked about, as if it were my due simply for being born a woman. But I haven’t forgotten, and I’m not succeeding at forgiveness, especially when the memories roll back over me afresh and on fire at inopportune times.
I tried turning to the Bible, but I wasn’t yet ready to see it as the allegory and mysticism that it is. I watched those around me interpreting it as historical truth, and I wanted to scream and war against all the injustices that it preaches and that people continue to live by. I watch these same people pointing the finger at different religions, condoning the retaliation and vengeance that has permeated our country, our culture, as if their religion is blameless and pure. As if their book is perfect, judgeless.
It’s all too heavy to bear.
It’s just too much.
My warrior within needs rest, hope, renewal.
And so for now, I’ll turn to the gentler, more clearly-interpreted wisdom of the ages. I’ll turn to the simple life that The Angle offers, despite the gossip and the grievances I thought were so real. I’ll turn to the quick and sticky hugs of a busy four-year old, the joy that watering my plants and turning the compost pile brings, the never-ending supply of freshly picked wildflowers brought in by grubby fingers and an unencumbered heart just because she knows they make me smile. I’ll turn to the hot coffee my loving man brings me each morning – he’s been sweetening it something fierce lately…I must need it.
The answers were never out there anyway. They’re in here. Within.
And I’m Lucky…I have generations of un-indentured ancestors behind me passing down a pain body that is little more than the toils of hard work. I have my own two hands with which to make music, to offer love, to give back. Mostly, I have my freedom, the beginnings of forgiveness, and the patience it’s gonna take to parse out those buried-on-top-of-the-earth answers.
I woke up today, so yeah, I’m pretty lucky.
(Published in the June 27th Warroad Pioneer)