Saturday, February 5, 2022

With Teacher and Student


“No. It’s stupid.”
“It doesn’t mean anything.”
“None of my friends are voting.”
“Who cares. It just makes people angry.”
“I’ll just vote for all Trump people. He was funny as hell.”


These were the adamant protestations of my 18-year-old son about voting this year- a typical mixture of honesty, avoidance, and defiance.

As I think back over my life and consider how I would have responded to these statements at different ages and stages, I see more clearly how I and my thinking have evolved. That evolution has been made possible by the people I have been exposed to and the life stories they have shared.

That includes people I have been in direct contact with and those I only know of from a distance. Chance meetings, friendships, disagreements, classes, books, presentations, TV shows, and arts- they all add up to who I am today.

In every encounter, each person can be, and perhaps should be, both teacher and student.


Daniel Tatum said something to that effect to Celeste Headlee in her book, Speaking of Race and it has stuck with me. I can learn where my son is right now as he speaks. I can tell of my own experiences. We can both listen and take in each other’s truths as best as we can. We can ask each other how we have come to think what we do. Perhaps, the interaction will nudge one or both of us in a slightly different direction.

What we are all going through now is not anything completely new to the world, but each day is new to us. It’s a new opportunity. It’s a chance for us to take comfort in the fact that we’re all imperfect, but we can be both bigger and more whole in the future by learning and teaching with each other every day.

“With”.


That’s a big word in a little package. To be with someone or something is to be beside- not above or below. Not that you’re the same- but you are there in body, mind, and spirit. Another word that springs to mind is: empathy.


Can I empathize with my son?

Yes. Or, I could belittle and push my own desires.


Can I empathize with a stranger?

Yes. Or, I could belittle and push my own desires.


Can I empathize with a forest?

Yes. Or, I could belittle and push my own desires.


If I had you, perhaps I lost you on that last one. I do believe an ecosystem has something that one can be with. That’s the subject for another time, but I wanted to offer it for those who might be ready to consider. If it’s too much, it’s OK to step back from the idea. We can give each other some respectful space.

That’s how we learn and grow.

Did I like my son’s reactions? No. Did I feel the urge to belittle and push my own desires? Yes. I tried to both understand his point of view and offer my own. Did I change his mind? No. But perhaps, not yet.


Not yet.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Borahae 2022

Every year I create a new Twitter bio to reflect my life focus for the upcoming 12 months. It’s time once again and I just read through my 2020 to 2021 thoughts.


Wow.

Here’s my 2021 Twitter bio:







So...how’d I do on what I wanted to accomplish in 2021?


ONE BOAT: Nationally, we need massive efforts on multiple fronts: public health, social justice, green economy, education, infrastructure, and health care. Covid is top, but the others are vitally connected. By the end of 2021, I just want to see some progress on all these. We didn’t get here overnight. We won’t get out of it overnight, either. Dr. Richardson was a reminder to me of that truth and I hope to read one of her books this year to further my understanding.”


I didn’t read any of HCR’s books but I do see some progress in public health, social justice, green economy, and infrastructure. George Floyd’s murderer was found guilty. We have vaccines in about half our population. Infrastructure got some money. But we don’t have BBB and our voting rights are under attack.


REAL PEOPLE AND THE PLANET: We need to show we care about both. That we need to care for both. It's not about years old customs and stock prices.”

This one…is still a dream. Build Back Better and other work need to be put into place to walk us toward what we say are our ideals- that this is the land of opportunity for all. We (all humans and species) ALL deserve healthy food, water, shelter, and space to the best of our communal abilities.


STAY ENGAGED: To that end, I want to see an expanding political/societal participation by all the people at all levels- especially state and local. Volunteering somewhere. Supporting candidates. Talking with family and friends. Attending meetings as a citizenry. It’s important. Unfortunately, our problems are so big,many can’t do much more than try to survive. Those who can, should.”


My 2021 Verbostratis is filled with copies of letters to school boards and political leaders. I’ve joined meetings and a great book club. I’ve talked and I’ve written. I’m proud of not backing down and feel compelled to forge on in 2022.


“Personally, I just want us all to feel a little safer- to not feel like everything's hanging by a thread. That's #1. Then, I’d love to work with others and earn some sort of reward in return- money, food, other? Keeping busy would also help me shed some of those pandemic pounds. I’d love my kids to get back into society and the oldest to get a job and his driver’s license. A nature-based retreat sounds delightful: I want stars, water, and living stuff. And a bustling gathering of friends with great food, music, and drinks would be a dream come true. That's it. Well, that and finally see BTS again live.”


Except for the first line, I have achieved this entire paragraph. I feel less safe today than January 2021 and it’s not because of the current administration. I have found a new way to work with others, my children have rejoined the world, and our oldest has gotten a job and his driver’s licence. And though it did take until December, I was gloriously and joyfully able to see BTS again live. This time with a friend in a new environment I never dreamed I’d be a part of.





What about 2022?








KEEP EXPANDING MY AWARENESS OF THIS WORLDWIDE WEB OF LIFE


It’s a never-ending journey of discoveries and realizations: this person and I share X, that organism gives me Y, this element connects me with that, this country reminds me of that country but that other country has a really cool and different way of doing this.


KEEP STRETCHING MY HEART AND POSITIVE ACTIONS


Connected to the first goal, not only do I have to see connections, I have to process/internalize them and answer the question, “So, what am I going to do to participate in this?” As an example. in 2021, I began exploring a better understanding of Indigenous peoples of Wisconsin past, present, and future. In answer to that question I’m posing- “So, what am I going to do to participate in this?”, I gladly accepted and began practicing Land Acknowledgements when I am out in our natural world. I remember wherever I step, there are peoples who were stewards of this land long before me.



JUST KEEP GOING


Chunks of me are exhausted- at some levels it’ll be good enough to me to simply keep putting one foot in front of the other. It’s a common problem today and by saying it out loud, I weaken the power of the lure to give up.



I PURPLE YOU/BORAHAE/보라해


According to Urban Dictionary, “Kim Taehyung a.k.a. V of BTS gave a new meaning to the word purple. Purple means love, trust and loyalty. So technically if someone tells you "I purple you", that someone is saying "I'll trust you, love you, support you, and be loyal to you until my last breath".”


Using a purple heart tells the reader you trust, love, and support both yourself and them. I can’t think of anything better in life, whether applied to people or anything else on this planet.


Here’s to 2022.




보라해.