A poem by Amy Miller
Dear friends, political intimates, beloved chosen family. We are. Physically distant. Struggling. Together attempting smart, fresh, grounded, moment-seizing – getting shit done in new and unsettling ways. And we may also struggle on our intimate fronts and battle with our own minds, hearts, bodies. And/or. With those with whom we find ourselves.
Ok, I can own it. I am struggling. I forget. Do I watch pandemic news today? Or hide away? Do I work, walk, browse boys online with my queer self, or make lunch for my kid? Is it time for one more phone call? One more text? One more email? Or is it diminishing returns? Should I step back, sideways, forward . . . step to this blank page? How do I fill my soul tank when there’s no fuel or there is and it doesn’t burn so well? Seems the different air changes the blend.
But you know. While difficult is what is, I’m so blessed to require, be required by – to crave, be craved by – to hold, be held by . . . this deep-long-smart-tough-absurd-annoying-hilarious-talented-loving-struggle family. This circle. You all right here in this room. And you know what? Times are tricky, terrifying even. But we are fine. I’ll shout it from the rooftops: we are fine! Steeled by our work and faith, broadly defined, we can wrangle our own minds, hearts, bodies, souls, and those with whom we find ourselves. Practiced, not perfect, sure. But I mean, shit. Hope abounds. We got this.
Some of you’ve been at it longer than me, some shorter, but we’ve been years learning to put it all into service to this adventure path, guiding star of THINGS MUST CHANGE. 30 million newly unemployed and growing. Economic crisis building, worsening. Already bad. Now worse. But also . . . WE have way more. People on the same page, infrastructure, influence, skills and tools and lessons learned. Way more than 2 years ago. Way more than 20 years ago.
And yeah. Of course we’ll struggle to get ourselves and each other through. We’ll face dark nights and broken hearts. We’ll weep. That is part of the “we got this.” What else might I know? Well. If I eat a whole bag of chips watching Netflix at midnight, I feel like ass the next day. My mind . . . oh, my mind employs a big, busy secretarial pool of monkeys typing and chattering away. Friendly, curious, creative, likeable monkeys – but not so disciplined. And I gotta let them romp and run around until they settle. After that I can put them to work and they’ll do a fine job.
And I know my heart and soul. Connected the colorful world out there. But also. Sometimes quiet. Sometimes still. Generatively alone. Seems alone would be easy right now. But I need a bigger dose these days. Of reflective pondering. Connection to the energy. The universe. The page. Time with those who are magic for me. The cold of iced coffee, bigness of sky, ground beneath my feet, rhythm-setting moon.
This is how I live. How we live. Marge Piercy in The 7 of Pentacles. Live a life you can endure. Gnaw in the dark and use the sun to make sugar. Live as if you liked yourself and it may happen. John Prine died a few days ago. Master storyteller. Lover of people and places as they are . . . not as they should be. Teller of the big truth that we are hilarious, messy, soulful, imperfect, gorgeous in our particulars. He would have liked the bunch of us. We go to work in the morning. Come home in the evening. And have plenty to say.
We are a people of crisis. The poor are a people of crisis. And we are a people of faith. The poor are a people of faith. That’s why we are here and what we signed up for. We do not shrink back. We build skill. We hold hands. We step bravely forward into the sea. So yes, it’s a big and growing crisis. But you got this. Relax into your particulars. Celebrate ketchup on your scrambled eggs. Celebrate that you swear like a sailor when you shave your . . . oh, wait, right. Who really shaves their legs in a pandemic? I mean, or ever?
But be who you are and not who you aren’t. Do what you can and not what you can’t. Do your job and bring your gifts. Not somebody else’s. Weep when you must. Thrive in spite of it all. Use today to secure tomorrow. Find your people and lean into them. Get clear. And when things get hazy again, you get clear again. Trust your soul. Tend it. Embrace the sacred. Relax into God. Don’t eat too many chips; and exercise your monkeys. Is it a hard way to go? Of course. But you believe in this living. Yep. It’s hard. So what? Big deal. Believe in this living. When they write evil down as the progress of man, just tell them they’re wrong . . . and believe in this living. Gather. Hold tight to one another. Live a life we can endure. Soulful, imperfect, gorgeous. The harvest does come. Work harder than you’ve ever worked. Celebrate joyfully. Invite paradise. Require it. Become it. Shout it from the rooftops. We believe in this living. We got this. Together. Amen.