I have been thinking. Hard. Listening better. Reading deeper. The world needs to change, and I do too. I’ve thought about change from various perspectives through the years. Every time I moved states or country I changed. I can’t recall an occasion when this wasn’t for the better.
I heard recently, being uncomfortable is necessary. Even some pain is necessary until we emerge renewed. The scars may remain, but they are reminders of how it/we used to be. We don’t like discomfort, let alone pain. Life is very hard a lot of the time, if we are doing it right. All the more reason we need to bathe in joy when we occasionally find it.
I’ve noticed when I’m going through troubling times there are a few things that stabilise me, even give me cause for hope. They are mostly small, simple things…walks…homemade food…learning something new…watching nature…being creative.
Looking at things more closely reminds me of the day I had just cleaned the bathroom and then needed to do something in there with my reading glasses on and suddenly I realised all the dust I had missed! Sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know and it’s good to take a closer look. I’m learning all kinds of things about converting basil cuttings with water roots, so that they will then grow in soil. I paid attention and five out of the five cuttings have survived. More importantly, I’m trying to learn as much as I can about the plight of People of Colour everywhere, especially in Australia and the USA. It’s the least I can do given my white privilege. The two things that are most important in our lives are the two things we have no control over…where we are born (what country) and who our parents are. I heard this many years ago and completely believe it, but am gaining a fuller understanding now.
Turning the questions around is a very important exercise too. I remember sitting at a table in a friend’s house 8 or 9 years ago, having a discussion with a third person about when she had colon cancer, the same year I’d had breast cancer. It was a stark wake up call to me, that not everyone reacts the same to things. She said her first thought was ‘Oh, why me?’ And literally, my first thought was ‘Why not me?’ I’m no better or worse than anyone else and people get cancer all the time, so why would I be exempt? We are not exempt from life’s trials and challenges, so we pull on our big girl panties and learn from it. All. There is always something to be learned.
Our local groceries have been out of coffee filters for weeks. There’s a tiny little sticker on the shelf where they should be that says ‘sorry customers, we are currently unable to get this product’. So this morning I tried making my coffee the old way, the way I used to make it before pour-over coffee became a thing. You know what? It tastes better! I may not go back to filters. I could spend the money on something more fun than a piece of paper that gets thrown in the garbage, or I could even donate it to support something I believe in.
What’s my point? When you know better, you can do better. Thank you Maya Angelou, for putting it so clearly we can all understand. Have a great day each and every one of you, go out there and listen and learn and be kind. Let’s all do better.
What I’ve been listening to…
On Being – interview with Eula Biss (also this repeat interview with Isabel Wilkerson here – see mention below)
This American Life – Afrofuturism – sounds odd but I’m trying to expand my awareness.
What I have been reading and watching…
How to be an Antiracist – Ibram X. Kendi (also this TED talk on YouTube with Ibram here)
The Warmth of Other Suns – Isabel Wilkerson (also a previous post I wrote about this remarkable book is here, it will sound vaguely familiar…)
The Light of the World: A Memoir – Elizabeth Alexander (also a previous post I wrote in 2015 after I’d read the book, still one of my all time favourite books is here)
Keith Shebesta said:
Ardys, such a fresh perspective of how to think differently when life throw us cuveballs that we we were not expecting nor wanting. Embracing them and being resilient certainly can spur growth if we only take the time to appreciate it. Thank you for the reminder.
Thank you Keith. It’s been quite a challenge to observe in myself how the events of recent months have effected me so that I can express it in a useful way. I’m sure there are other things I’ve missed but maybe I’ll eventually figure them out.
I love the way you expressed your thoughts, Ardys. I have had to step back and not say anything for a long while now. I feel like the child I was five decades ago, living in a house with daily domestic abuse. We just did what we had to to get through the day, and we kept our mouths shut and our eyes to the ground.
I’m sorry you are feeling that way, Lori. I think many of us are. This was my attempt to let people who read this blog know that in my own way I am trying to be part of the change in the world. Many of us are afraid to stick our heads up lest they be bitten off. I had one small episode of that a couple of weeks ago myself and so I know I have to be careful and thoughtful. I’m glad you have those three little darling fawns to take care of, they would give you purpose and reward, though probably a lot less sleep. xxx
LikeLiked by 1 person
I thought you wrote beautifully and thoughtfully. I know there are many things for us to be cognizant of, and be open to change right now. I’m truly glad to have the fawns for a diversion. Sleep? What is that? Ha ha! Wish you were here. You’d fall in love…
LikeLiked by 1 person
SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻♀️ said:
Thank you Saania.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Such times… we have had before and we will have again. But right at the moment it feels like living in the centre of a maelstrom… which doesn’t offer much of a vantage point for perspective.
While I’ve been busy doing other things I have been mulling over and conversing with my self about your post, looking for words to comment with. Two pieces of inspiration from others found me.
One, an SBS opinion piece by Summer May Finlay “…Accept that your experience as a non-Indigenous person is vastly different from that of an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. Just remember: Aboriginal people need to be the actors, directors and producers on issues affecting us with non-Aboriginal people can help by being the backstage crew.”
And the other posted by Celia this morning on her Insta story, words from Elizabeth Gilbert from an ABC article “I’ve been taught by the black activists that I follow that they don’t really need my self-loathing and my guilt and shame, it doesn’t serve them, it’s not helpful,” Gilbert says. “It actually makes the story about me. If I’m experiencing self-loathing, then somebody has to comfort me.” “Whatever you do, don’t go to a person who is in an oppressed class and ask them to make you feel better about that. They’ve got enough work on their own.”
Gilbert says some black leaders have described white guilt as “a casualty of white supremacy”.
Your post and these pieces make sense for me at least of many things I’m struggling to make sense of.
Like you I take comfort in my own simple life, and in my own way trying to be part of the change in the world without knowing outside my own life how or what to do. But that I feel, is enough… it has to be.
Responding intuitively, finding solutions, home cooking and baking, giving new skills a try… like striking basil… reading, listening, thinking…sums it up so well… these are building blocks of domestic attitudes from which broader spring.
Thank you Dale, for your ever thoughtful and useful approach to things. I agree with all you say. The only good use of guilt is as a warning that you need to ‘do’ something, not just wallow in it. I have heard before that we don’t need to ask an oppressed person to help us feel better. We need to listen, and be informed enough to ask useful questions. The journey continues… x
Claire 'Word by Word' said:
Move ‘On Being’ and I just finished reading The Warmth of Other Suns. Loved your thoughtful post here, the reminder to listen, learn and be kind. Thank you.
Thank you, Claire. It really wouldn’t matter what was going on in the world, listening, learning and being kind is never wasted.