One thing I want to be cautious of – by which I really mean refuse – are the ways we sometimes consider, for instance, gardening (or health, or healthcare, or potable water or clean air or pleasant and stable housing or decent jobs or good schools or libraries or living relatives or being unabused or having ‘free time’ or not being imprisoned or not living near a power plant or incinerator or a landfill of a million acres of corn or soybeans sprayed with toxins) a privilege, which actually obscures the fact that to be without a garden, or to be without green space, or to be without access to a park or clean water or the forest or fruit trees or birdsong or shade or a deep and abiding relationship with a tree, or to be without healthcare, and so often to be without health, is violence, it is abnormal (even if it is the norm) and it is an imposition of precarity that is not natural. All these comorbidities, all these communities more exposed to toxins, all this absence of sick pay or good pay, every day, is not simply an affliction, (Oh too bad! You landed in Cancer Alley! Or, Oh, bummer about those opioid deaths! Or, So unlucky about the lead in your water!) but an infliction. It is on purpose. And the withholding from some of the means of life, of which means there are plenty to go around, is a disprivilege. Which is to say; life, though it is a gift, is not a privilege.
And rather than indulging in the virtue signalling that simply reifies or maybe even enjoys the guilt – guilt can be titillating, let’s admit that; bathing in it oneself or dumping it on others – of so-called privilege, rather than wading around in that little impotent cess-pool of hand-wringing regret, how about instead we figure out how to get rid of disprivilege, which we could do.
Part of which includes acknowledging that, baseline, we should all be able to get into a garden or a forest or an orchard if we want. It includes acknowledging that we should all have clean drinking water and good schools and excellent healthcare and safe housing. What would happen if we acknowledged that none of this is privilege, but rather it is as it should and could be? And what if we figured out, together, in a million different ways how to make it so? Or to say it another way: rather than cursing the darkness, what if we planted some seeds?
~ Ross Gay, Inciting Joy
The English language is a magnificent sponge. I love the English language. I’m glad that I speak it. But for all that, it has a lot of holes. In Greek, there’s a word, “lachesism” which is the hunger for disaster. You know, when you see a thunderstorm on the horizon and you just find yourself rooting for the storm. In Mandarin, they have a word “yù yī” — I’m not pronouncing that correctly — which means the longing to feel intensely again the way you did when you were a kid. In Polish, they have a word “jouska” which is the kind of hypothetical conversation that you compulsively play out in your head. And finally, in German, of course in German, they have a word called “zielschmerz” which is the dread of getting what you want.
~ John Koenig
If we were not here— the show would play to an empty house, as do all those falling stars which fall in the daytime. That is why I take walks: to keep an eye on things.
~ Annie Dillard
Lotus flowers lead harrowing journeys. Their seeds sprout in murky swamp water, thick with dirt and debris and snarls of roots. For a lotus to bloom, she must forge her way through this terrible darkness, avoid being eaten by fish and insects, and keep pressing onward, innately knowing, or at least hoping, that there is sunlight somewhere above the water’s surface, if she can only summon the strength to get there. And when she does, she emerges unscathed by her journey and blooms triumphantly.
~ Sarah Jio, All the Flowers in Paris
If you feel lost, disappointed, hesitant, or weak, return to yourself, to who you are, here and now and when you get there, you will discover yourself, like a lotus flower in full bloom, even in a muddy pond, beautiful and strong.
~ Masaru Emoto, Secret Life of Water
I believe in going back to the magic of the earth and the lake, the sky and the universe. That kind of magic. I believe in that kind of religion. A religion of the rocks, the lake, the water, the sky. Yes, that’s what I believe in.
~ George Morrison, Grand Portage Ojibwe