After a rain mushrooms appear on the surface of the earth as if from nowhere. Many do so from a sometimes vast underground fungus that remains invisible and largely unknown. What we call mushrooms mycologists call the fruiting body of the larger, less visible fungus. Uprisings and revolutions are often considered to be spontaneous, but less visible long-term organizing and groundwork — or underground work — often laid the foundation. Changes in ideas and values also result from work done by writers, scholars, public intellectuals, social activists, and participants in social media. It seems insignificant or peripheral until very different outcomes emerge from transformed assumptions about who and what matters, who should be heard and believed, who has rights.
Ideas at first considered outrageous or ridiculous or extreme gradually become what people think they’ve always believed. How the transformation happened is rarely remembered, in part because it’s compromising: it recalls the mainstream when the mainstream was, say, rabidly homophobic or racist in a way it no longer is; and it recalls that power comes from the shadows and the margins, that our hope is in the dark around the edges, not the limelight of center stage. Our hope and often our power.
Change is rarely straightforward… Sometimes it’s as complex as chaos theory and as slow as evolution. Even things that seem to happen suddenly arise from deep roots in the past or from long-dormant seeds.
~ Rebecca Solnit
Dissents speak to a future age.
~ Ruth Bader Ginsburg
While walking through the woods on Sunday, M and I had a conversation about, well, just about everything. One of the everythings we discussed was the lack of mushrooms in the woods. There have been fewer each year, and this year there are none of the usual suspects. Given how much rain we’ve had, dryness is not the issue. I’m wondering if the flooding we are more prone to is a factor. The water is brackish (a combination of fresh and salt water). Perhaps the usual mushroom suspects don’t care for saltiness.
My morning ritual, sunrise and yoga practice, has become a kind of mourning ritual as well. To be honest, it’s been that way for a while. We’ve lost several friends and one family member throughout the summer months. Last Friday afternoon I found out about Pauline. The world lost a wonderful woman. I will miss her, already miss her. I had wondered why there was nothing from her in my email or comments on the blog.
A few hours later, word came down that Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died. She fought so hard to stay with us. The creature squatting in the White House and his sycophants will do all they can to replace her as soon as possible. I was sickened by The Turtle’s announcement, not two hours after RBG’s death, vowing that the creature’s nominee would get a Senate vote. I am frustrated, angry, sad. The hypocrisy in that is unbelievable (although why I find it unbelievable after the past almost four years is beyond me).
Yet what greater defeat could we suffer than to come to resemble the forces we oppose in their disrespect for human dignity?
~ Ruth Bader Ginsburg, My Own Words
Friday’s news came on the heels of a story earlier in the week about a whistleblower who came forward alleging abuses, included forced hysterectomies, on immigrant women being held in an ICE facility in Georgia. It makes me ill to think about what this country is doing to people who come here seeking refuge. (Rolling Stone has a recent article about the allegations, including years of allegations of other abuses.) This would not be the first time this country has performed forced sterilization procedures on people. If you’re not familiar with the practice, do a little research. It won’t take you long to find a few articles about the history of eugenics in the United States.
We need to change. We must change. As difficult and uncomfortable as it’s going to be, we must. For the sake of those who are inheriting the future, but for own sake as well.
Fight for the things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.
~ Ruth Bader Ginsburg
We live in interesting times. A lot of us are unlearning. I can tell you that the history I was taught in school does not resemble the history I have been learning over the past few months. My unlearning and learning started before we entered the era of the current presidency. Little did I know that I should have been speeding up the process.
We can’t all be on the front lines or at the protests. No one of us can carry all of the banners for all of the things that are in need of change. But we can pick one thing, one job, that we feel we are here to do, that we are capable of doing. What is your passion? What sets your hair on fire? If you can, find your job and do it the best you can. Make phone calls, write letters, or at the very least, vote. Please. I know it’s hard. I really, really do know. As Glennon Doyle (author of “Untamed”) posts all the time: We can do hard things.
One other thing before I get off of my soapbox. I think the Wellness industry and New Age movement did us a great disservice with their focus on the self. Here in the U.S. we already had notions about rugged individualism. I understand that some of the focus on self-love and self-compassion was needed. It was needed because we also had notions about disparaging ourselves, notions we may have been taught by others in our life who, maybe, didn’t know how to love.
True self-love, according to some of the psychology experts, is not something you just acquire by reading an inspirational book about it or meditating on it. Self-love comes from action, from doing the things that help us mature and become more accepting of who we are as a whole, warts and all (what we perceive as our mistakes and shortcomings). I think self-love might be a lot like motivation in that you have to act first. The motivation will follow as you continue to act and reap the benefits of those actions.
I also think it’s time to recognize that community and relationship are important in human life. First, nobody gets ahead without others. There are those who claim otherwise, but they were likely lifted up by helping hands or by standing on the shoulders of those who came before, or they were gifted the funding they needed (usually through our tax dollars), or they may have walked all over other people, not caring how they got ahead. Second, there are a number of studies out showing that cooperation has been one of the prime movers of human evolution. I tend to agree with those who think we (as a whole) have been in the adolescent stage for a long time, and now, we need to grow up, learn from our mistakes, make amends where necessary, and recognize that we truly are in this together.
Find community, if you don’t already feel part of a community of some kind. Relationships are as important to good health as exercise, stress reduction, and eating well. I know it’s difficult now. I know that many of us have to stay home, but we don’t have to isolate completely. Physically distancing, meeting outside, and wearing a mask do make a difference so it’s not entirely impossible to interact with others (as we found when visiting with friends). Zoom, email, write letters, use whatever video calling apps you have. The important thing is to stay in touch. Blogging is community, too. (I intentionally kept social media off the list. I think there are better ways to stay in contact with others that doesn’t involve using a platform that promotes hate.)
If you’re still here and reading, thank you. I’ve been sitting on this post all week, trying to decide whether or not to go ahead with it. I toned it down, several times. I know this is not what you usually come here to read/see. I promise it won’t always be like this. I’ll get back to reminding you about Walktober and describing my own walks very soon.
Please be safe, be well, and be kind.
A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy: 1,541) Whatever it is that is making the other than human residents (the deer, the birds) trust me enough to not flee as soon as they see me. Some even try to approach me. 1,542) The red of the roses that are blooming like crazy right now (they, like me, prefer the slightly cooler weather). 1,543) Friends, family, community. 1,544) All of the good teachers. Those in schools, those in life, those we come across however briefly. 1,545) Poetry. I’ve rediscovered it and it’s become an important part of my morning ritual (more on that in a future post).
One final note: If you’re in the U.S., please… VOTE. And if you’re looking for a way to help, visit Vote Forward to find out how you can join a letter writing campaign that doesn’t support a particular candidate but does ask others to be sure to vote.