ripe conditions

i just woke up from a marvelous revolutionary dream where i and a band of other storytellers infiltrated a closed community. we told stories of what was happening in other places, we were griots slipped into normal activities, responding to questions with authentic tales. a couple of us were caught as we left, our covers somehow blown, making no eye contact with our old and new collaborators while shouting ‘i am not afraid! i must tell the stories i have lived! I am not afraid!’

i woke up clinging to sleep, to the dream world, wanting to see more details, more action from these radical storytellers.

then i wondered, how did i come to have such an awesome dream? what created the ripe conditions for such a vision to arise?

perhaps it is because i am around my niece & nephew, who truly impress upon me that learning is an experiential activity. storytelling is a way to give someone an experience they haven’t had yet, or maybe didn’t even know was possible. my nephew, on the brink of 3, doesn’t respond to logic/reason. he responds to his own experience, strong emotion, or exciting stories.

my niece, who turns 1 on wednesday, responds almost entirely to emotions. this is one of my favorite times in baby life, because i love to feel. i spend so much time feeling that sometimes it is hard to articulate without catching the spirit when i want to share what i am feeling.

another condition was that the power went out last night while I was in the shower. we’re out in the woods this week, so the darkness was incredible, full of sounds. i finished washing by candle light, then listened to the wind. wind is one of my favorite elements, shaping everything, unseen yet undeniable. i love how it feels. wind makes me want to cleanse and change, bend into a new shape, and open up the windows.

my nephew was talking about ghosts yesterday, which always gives me chills, he talks about them so clearly. they can scare him (‘sometimes the ghosts wake me up! they go whoowhoo and make me wake up!’) or his friends (i have walked into rooms and seen him in deep conversation with playmates who seem to have a location). he sees the world as full, he has company all the time whether it’s those we see or those he sees.

organizing can feel like some kind of ghostlike crossing over, from a world of shared views that feels safe, to a world of difference that feels unpredictable. you have to learn how to be present, attend to the realities of a new world, while respectfully telling the stories you know.

in my dream that was the challenge, to be heard and not seen, reawakening what we believed was in the people, not bringing something new or overwhelming.

i have been reflecting a lot lately on how i don’t trust people with agendas, master plans. i think of those people as trying to create a new story for others, placing a massive end on the story, a period that only they can see.

for me, storytelling is an emergent process, a pollination-style intimacy, where the results can’t be fully predicted as the conditions shift.

in my experience the best storytelling is the best organizing…it’s rooted in a truth people have experienced, has some magic in it and something to long for, and a moment of beauty. but it is co-created as it is lived, no one can see the end of it. that allows people to stay in the present moment, and attend to the work before them with intention, seeing the story unfold with themselves in it, rather than directed, with themselves just outside the frame.

another lao tzu quote i read recently: “knowing how to yield is strength.” there is a deep yielding to being in the story, not an outsider. there is a power that comes from being part of the transformation within a story which you miss if you are constantly trying to be outside directing and managing it.

when i hear a good story i savor it, tuck it away to examine and imagine. when i tell a good story of something that moved me, i let the emotion of being moved come into the words, because i want to be moved again. i seek the miraculous and tender moments that make stories unique and great.

i love the dream because i could feel the closeness of this community of storytellers, our unspoken collaboration to liberate through inspiration, telling the quiet stories with our whole hearts.

the wind storm that knocked out the power last night became rain, and this morning the world looks clean and damp. my thoughts feel fresh, which is better than new.

today i am not going to push anything, just consider what stories i am telling, and what stories i am living.

wanted: the miraculous

lately i have been feeling like I owe the world, and myself, some explanation. my attention and passion is leaping all over the place. i keep wanting to wander in spite of all the to-dos i have which want to pin me to one place…

i end up in places like this:

those who know me well know that I am extremely easily bored with ‘the mundane’ and that most things default into mundacity unless I can see that they are miraculous. then I am totally into them, present with it, til the next miraculous thing comes along.

at any given moment the world is utterly mundane, or utterly miraculous. since I have previously understood that perspective plays a major role in this, I have been known to blast some miraculous dust over a mundane moment, put on the other glasses through which i see the magic in the minuscule and daily.

I experience actual trepidation about the mundane

1. Lacking interest or excitement; dull.
2. Of this earthly world rather than a heavenly or spiritual one.)

don’t you?

i feel it like it is the nothingness spoken of in ‘never-ending story’, a world-ending darkness, a sameness that can swallow up life. I see potential mundane energy in all sorts of activities, including radical political work, cooking, science fiction, family time – things I love. there is an energy to it that makes me feel restless and weary in a massive cosmic way…

‘is this really worth the miraculous breath of my life?’

the trepidation and restlessness combine to make me rude when I ought to be kind, and unfocused when i have discreet tasks to accomplish.

but! the thinking I have been doing lately has been liberating me from that trepidation, leading me to take on work and projects and conversations and relationships I never would have considered, in ways I wouldn’t have been open to.

it’s deeper than I have experienced perspective shift to be…there is a sarcastic voice in my head which chimes in when I try to perspective shift…’no love, that’s a piece of shit and you’ll smell it when you step in it, even if you get it to look like a rose.’ (for a couple of years the voice has sounded like a raunchy Brit from one of china mieville’s books.)

this new thing feels more like a fundamental belief system, and it’s disrupting my work and relationships in a way that excites me. I am starting to believe in wholeness, not as a future concept, but a present one. I am starting to believe, after years of angst and anger and suffering that was both empathetic and experiential, that there is nothing wrong with the world. that in fact the world is miraculous:

1. Occurring through divine or supernatural intervention.
2. Highly improbable and extraordinary and bringing very welcome consequences: “our miraculous escape”.

there are lots of things that are horrific, there are stories to carry, there are things that are unfair, violent, disgusting, unjustifiable. there is all of that, some of it close to my heart and some of it far.

but every single place I see suffering see days, I see better people, survivors, brilliant communities. i see and hear the rush as people tell the story of their suffering, once they learn to tell it. I see resilience within all of this suffering and oppression and experienced scarcity, transforming people from addictive individuality to sustainable communalism.

AMP, being a network for the miraculous, has a principle about this truth which i think i am just getting to fully grasp in a living way:

The most effective strategies for us are the ones that work in situations of scarce resources and intersecting systems of oppression because those solutions tend to be the most holistic and sustainable.

in that, I see miracles, lives worth living because there is righteous work to be done and resilience to be learned. the only spaces that still seem unwhole to me is places where people are ‘sleepwalking through their lives’ as someone told me my friend Tom Goldtooth said recently. that – being asleep in waking life – is a personal tragedy, perhaps a survival mechanism, and requires systemic work, work that awakens, restores curiosity and life force without forcing a direction for people.

where ‘power to the people’ has been the connecting thread of my work for a long time, it is shifting now to this waking up, ‘waking up the sleeping people’. the world is whole, wake and be in it.

wake up to the natural world which is constantly communicating,
wake up to those who love you, and see how love waits to transform you,
let the pain of the labor instruct the process, let your baby enter the world undrugged if it’s possible,
eat food from the earth and feed it to your families,
trust the earth to heal from humans, while becoming the kind of human that deserves such a magnificent home,
trust our spirits to liberate everything we create…child, machine, self-myth…

my life is feeling simpler in a way that is not mundane…I am saying yes to things, admitting what I don’t know in order to create space for learning, being less accountable in the ways i have been (around time and tasks) but more present in the ways i have longed for and been longed for.

also, I am a miracle maker these days, because that is all I want to see and it’s everywhere, and there are other miracle makers too, everywhere. i have stopped orchestrating everything (or attempting to and feeling foiled by the way everything/it seems to go everything/it’s own way) and stepped into the larger space of emergent co-creation of each moment. only in each moment can i see the next miraculous step.

the mundane (or more accurately, mine, because my mundane is my own) is now at the edges of my life, guiding me by repelling me in ways i can hear loud and clear. daily, I am less concerned with minutiae and rules and expectations, and more present to what is calling itself into the world, to add itself to the wholeness, or perhaps shift it’s position in the wholeness.

I’m just beginning to articulate all of this, pardon any clumsiness.

I know that when I meet someone new these days, I want to listen to what they are most interested in and/or proud of, or maybe just look at them, reading the messages in how they present themselves to the world. if I share, it’s either about amazing miraculous stuff people I know are doing, or something brilliant I am learning about, or connecting through a story of the fires of my life. I can’t remember mundane parts of my life, perhaps I am letting them go. I don’t have mundane visions of the future…I want to just keep transforming and learning and seeing the world with curiosity and laughter and resilience every day – even (especially) the hardest days.

as I learn to say all this in more polished ways perhaps I will sway more people to see and create miraculous living. but then again, it seems like the sort of thing to come to through your own experiences, because it isn’t a temporary shift of seeing things. as I keep saying lately, it’s tectonic, it’s from within a cocoon, it’s opening up my heart like an energetic philosophical experiential cervix and pushing out this massive new foundation from which to see the world.

more than anything it intrigues me, pulling me from this moment to the next, notebook in hand.

You Are The Future (a perfect poem i didn’t write)

(this poem. read it some more. read it aloud. read it to people you love…)


You are the future, the immense morning sky
turning red over the prairies of eternity.
You are the rooster-crow after the night of time,
the dew, the early devotions, and the Daughter,
the Guest, the Ancient Mother, and Death.

You are the shape that changes its own shape,
that climbs out of fate, towering,
that which is never shouted for, and never mourned for,
and no more explored than a savage wood.

You are the meaning deepest inside things,
that never reveals the secret of its owner.
And how you look depends on where we are:
from a boat you are shore, from the shore a boat.

Everything I Know About Taking Notes

I did a presentation on notetaking at a recent board meeting. i have learned from many teachers about the art of taking good notes. Here are notes on taking notes:

I use basecamp for most of my work, a secure site that manages shared to-do lists and calendars, where you can store shared files and notes. I usually put to-do items directly in there, but it also helps to have great notes to look back on together.

Some folks are very spare about their notes – just documenting decisions and action items and moving on with life. But for groups who like to track the conversation as well, here’s some guidelines that help:

Before you even get to the meeting, develop a clear agenda. The agenda should be a mix of quick updates and longer conversations. Don’t spend lots of face-to-face time on stuff that can easily be shared in other ways, like updates or events. Use face-to-face time for in-depth conversation, talks that benefit from abundant in-person time.

Check that the agenda works for everyone at the beginning of the meeting. Then, take notes.

The Important Part of Notes

At the top of your notes should be a few key items that are the most important thing anyone needs to see from your notes. You can either have a note taking template that you drop things into as you go, or organize them right afterward. The key items are:

1) To-Dos
with a date assigned to them
with a person assigned to them
if you DON’T have a name and a deadline, you will likely have no action between meetings — and we need action, not a document of our collective intelligence!

2) Decisions

what actually got decided by the group? if it was a vote, how many were in favor and not? if it was consensus, say so, or that it was unanimous. this is for your future self, when you want to know “how the hell did [insert-the-decision] get decided??”…so you can look back and go “oh. on june 14, 2001, by 12 of us.”

3) Who was present

tracking who came and was part of the decisions and to-do list development helps maintain group accountability.

Now, for the rest of the notes.

Key question to ask before writing a lot here: what is the purpose of these notes?

For contentious/intense discussion, it’s helpful to document the various positions.

For brainstorming, catching the essential concepts without names is usually fine.

For any other discussion, seriously consider if notes are necessary. And while you’re at it, consider why the meeting is necessary 🙂

Across the board, here are some tips:
– for long conversations, it might be helpful to record and transcribe, or have more than one person on the notes (see below).
– it’s important to decide beforehand if you are documenting names or not.
– it’s important to know where notes will live. ‘someone’s inbox’ is not a good home. a shared space – server or basecamp or something, is generally safer.
– it’s important to know if the notes are intended for public or private documentation. (and for all my good paranoid organizers out there, if you are taking notes on your computer and emailing them to a group, think of it as public. if you are taking notes in a secure site where they will live, then it’s a bit more private, or at least shows you intend the notes to be private – notes should align to what security awareness is agreed upon by the meeting attendees) establish the sense of public/private AT the meeting.
– most meetings just need action item notes. just reiterating that point.
clearly highlight/separate new sections. otherwise it’s a blob…NO BLOBS (if you can’t see/feel the segments as you go, you can go back and divide them later)
– don’t write in code unless its agreed on and shared
– for most meetings, document the notes in a couple of different places — on big paper so everyone can see the conversation moving, AND in electronic format, for posterity. (MAKE SURE you transcribe the stuff from paper into electronic during the meeting, otherwise we just lose them, or carry around rolls of butcher paper from life to life.)
– review at end of meeting the to-do and decisions and document it clearly/quickly in your notes or your planning software

Don’t offer to take notes if you aren’t good at it, or when you will be participating too much
– taking on the task of note taking is not about fairness, it’s about having the skill to adequately document your movement building — it can hurt your group if the notes don’t clearly reflect decisions/to-dos
– if the note taker is going to participate in a specific section, he/she/it/they should ask someone else to take notes for that section…unless he/she/it/they can really multi-task. some folks can, and some folks cannot. know thyself.

How do you know what to write down?
– sometime peeps talk to talk
– check-ins (usually at the beginning of a meeting)/temperature checks (mid-meeting, to see how things are going)/bio breaks (breaks for bathroom, smokes, stretching) don’t seem write-down-able
– honestly, it’s a judgement call
– often folks will ask for clarity on something, that can alert you to jot it down
– collective notes really help. google docs or pirate pad (links below) are great spaces where multi people can be logged on and taking notes at the same time. best practice for this is to have a PRIMARY and SECONDARY note taker and tag in and out to provide support.
– templates also help. here’s a sample notes template

    –> To Dos/Action Items:

    –> Decisions:

    –> Who was present:

    –> Additional Notes

    If there are conversations you regularly have, like “upcoming schedule”, or “finances”, or “program updates”, add them to the template. Voila.

    One other thing that helps me a lot is having a few standing places where certain notes go:

    – List of decisions (documenting DECISIONS makes them OFFICIAL). In most of my work, I keep one writeboard, or notepad, that is just the big decisions we make, in chronological order so they are easy to find.
    – Calendar [why keep things in a list when you could go ahead and put it on the calendar? Every organization should have a shared calendar that all can access and add to. I’ve used both Google, Yahoo and they worked fine. It’s important that folks can sync the organizational calendar with their personal one for optimum use.]

    pirate pad

    Have tips? Please add them 🙂

my mamas

today is mother’s day. the rest of the year, mothers are also incredible. today is just a day to focus a year’s worth of appreciation multiplied by the years you have been alive, focus that appreciation on all the mamas in your life.

there are so many in my life.

the newest mama is the young woman i am working with as a doula-in-mentorship. she is due on tuesday, and is really one of the most beautiful, grounded people i have ever watched go through a transformation. she and her mama are a joy to behold as they grow together through this…i feel so blessed she has come into my life, and think about her, and her coming daughter, all the time.

then there is my baby sister, who is such a good mama i sometimes wonder how she could have possibly learned it. she continuously models an active selflessness that i don’t think i received in the genetic pool we share. from the moment she got pregnant, she has had this sure footing on the mama walk, even when she is clearly suffering at the hands of her sleepless angels, even when life is so unexpected with it’s challenges, she just shifts the babies around on her hips and takes charge in a new direction. the way her babies are, the confidence they have that the world is going to love and amuse them, is evidence to her ferocious love and gorgeous laughter.

this year i have been thinking of my living grandmama a lot. she is mama to 6 children including a set of twins, mema to 17, and great grandmother now to a generation. she is wife to my very particular and enormous spiritual being of a grandfather, and her life has been one day of practical love after another. when i call my grandmama to my mind she has a hand on her hip, or her arms crossed, a look on her face as she tells me what’s what. her face shows up on my face, on my mother’s face – her way of thinking and being is part of my inheritance.

on the other side of my line is the grandma who passed on, mother to seven children. she is mostly myth, this ancestor of mine. she came to me when she died, and i feel her omnipresence in my life. i see my dad see her in our faces sometimes, his mother. i feel her in my life, that stylish sexy southern woman with this undeniable face i stare at in her old photos. i love to feel her seeing my life. i hope i honor the path of her life of working so hard and giving so generously.

one of my dearest friends became a mama at the end of college and spent many years just holding life by the lapels and demanding it shake out the good life her son was damned well going to have. she has eked it out against all odds, a spacious life where her brilliant boy can be loved, smart, quirky, interesting. and she has held the door open on her own path too, not giving up on her true self as mama and scholar. she’s humble about it, but i think of her as an amazon warrior.

i think of two college friends who didn’t know each other, both of whom used to tell me all about their dreams for their lives, how they were each going on a different path than anyone expected. i remember the crisis in their eyes when they each got pregnant much earlier than planned. i remember watching something die in their eyes, and something else take it’s place over their periods of pregnancy, as they each decided that some specific door had closed for them. i saw the authentic joy with which they became mothers, and understood that the journey is so complex.

i still light a candle for their dreams sometime, to hold space for a that world that is both future and present, depending on the life and belief system you come up in, where mamas can be anything they want to be.

i think of all the mamas i work with now, who root all of their work in the very real timelines of the children they are raising. they battle, they leave blood on the mat, they un-apologetically hold these whole lives with just two hands and unweary hearts.

and of course then there’s the ultimate mama, my mom, my incredible mother.

my mom has been having a very active year, in terms of massive tectonic life shifts. her capacity to default to love astounds me. and through that mindset, she is able to have spirit of curiosity and openness and adventure to every aspect of her life. she has more capacity for change than anyone i know, and almost no capacity to lie. so she stays in it, life, and she stays honest about the experience, and she lives it all the way.

she is one of the great mothers of all time, wherever that record is kept. she mamas the three of us, her radically different daughters, and she mamas everyone she comes across who seems to need a little of that particular kind of love and presence.

who is more powerful than these women, who walked up to the edge between life and death and carried a miracle back with every ounce of strength in their bodies?

who is more alive than these women, using love to craft the future?

happy mother’s day.

conflict resolution 101

i have been thinking a lot about conflict resolution in small and intimate spaces like families, or networks, or organizations.

i don’t quite know how to do it in families 🙂 but in networks or organizations, i have some basic tools i’ve been using that i wanted to share.

post-righteous disclaimer: as with all tools i share, i learned as much from completely f&*%ing it up as i did from moments of doing it well.

in most organizations i work with these days, it’s my first order of business – how do we make decisions, and how do we handle conflict?

i’ve seen what happens when we aren’t clear on these things, the implosions and pain and unnecessary confusion and inability to advance. now i approach these as foundational building blocks.

it’s important to know what kind of person you are. are you conflict averse, avoiding conflict at all costs? are you a conflict fiend, searching for drama in every interaction? are you one of the lucky ones who sees healthy conflict as part of living on a planet with other people?

it’s good to have some sense of yourself before you start. and its good to have a sense of how those you are working with deal with conflict. if folks don’t know, or can’t express it clearly, don’t worry – this will emerge over time.

see it as a learning process, and pay attention to what you learn.

agree to a process, early on, and use it.

here is the very basic conflict resolution process i use and suggest to others:

1) direct communication between the folks in conflict if at all possible.

this means no gossip, and no building up a case against someone. when an issue arises, address it one on one as soon as you can. don’t let it linger.

consider if a private conversation will work better than calling it out in front of a group. most people go on defense in front of others, but might be open if approached directly and privately.

my general commitment to not gossiping about people has allowed me to really track when i have a critique, vs negativity that takes away from time i could spend on improving my own [insert-the-self-critique].

2) if you cannot find peace through communicating directly, bring in a mediator or two whom both sides are open to working with.

you know you haven’t found peace if your mind or heart get stuck in a loop of resentment about someone (or something that someone keeps doing)…or working together feels like traversing a field of landmines each day.

both sides being open to the mediator is imperative for the resolution to work – if there is a sense of imbalance, let both sides identify mediators, and let the mediators plan how to reach resolution. there are wonderful folks in the world who mediate, some who do it professionally and many who don’t – think of folks who are discreet and grounding for you.

3) once a mediator has helped find resolution, determine who needs to know about it.

if the root of the conflict is interpersonal, then the resolution should be something that can simply end between the two people…unless a larger group has had to deal with the dynamics, in which case share a brief report back of agreements and changes they can expect to see from the two as they transform beyond the conflict. the transparency lets everyone know that conflict is normal part of group process, and can be resolved.

4) if a resolution can’t be reached between the two people in conflict through mediation, don’t give up.

there are a few things to consider:

– is the dynamic between these folks rooted in larger unanswered questions or a lack of alignment in the organization? name it, put them out of their misery. don’t make them carry the key tension of the organization as their own burdens.

– if the root of the conflict is related to the values, practices, or programs of the organization, then an organizational process is necessary – it may actually be a reshaping of the organization or network that’s in order.

– know the difference between issues that can be resolved with a conflict resolution and issues that need a much deeper healing process. conflict resolution can’t take the place of personal therapy, or group healing around shared trauma…its really about dealing with conflict in an ongoing way, from a position of health. trying to do a small process in place of a necessary large one will just create a more explosive dynamic in the long run.

this simple process is the best thing i’ve been able to come up with, because it requires everyone to play a part in holding it. i am really interested in hearing other processes that work.

mostly, i am really excited to have people understand that conflict is how groups grow – and having a good process will keep you evolving.

Spring Cleaning 101

I have blogged about this before, but it’s too liberating not to share again. While other folks start spring cleaning with, like, actual cleaning, I get inspired by going through my clothes, moving towards simplicity.

So here goes, my guide to spring cleaning:

1) Pull all of your clothes out onto the bed. Include scarves, jewelry, shoes – everything.

2) Using love as the determining factor, separate the items into four piles:

Pile A: Things you love, that look amazing on you, and are right for the coming season.

Pile B: Items in good shape which you no longer love. These are donations to your local shelter

Pile C: Gifts for friends

Pile D: Items out of season to store til the weather changes again

I also keep a little area of sentimental clothes that should never be worn again, but hold a memory.

3. Bag up pile B, distribute pile C ASAP, and store pile D away til the weather changes.

(If you are inspired, or have inspired friends, you can do a clothing swap before you give the donations.)

4. What you are left with, pile A, should be only things you love. Of these, some might need mending. If you don’t intend to actually mend it, move it to one of the other piles.

5. The rest put in your drawer or closet or where else you keep your things.

Ultimately you want to be able to pull literally anything in your closet out to wear and know it will look and feel fabulous.

6. Now, apply the same thinking and process to:

– linens. what sheets and towels do you actually need? give the rest to someone who needs them.
– the refrigerator. in good shape, fridge is all fresh food with condiments you go through quickly…don’t have a fridge full of rotting food while neighbors go hungry.
– the pantry. if you aren’t going to eat it, get it to someone who will.

7. Now, in which ever order it pleases you, deep sweep, deep dusting, deep scrubbing, deep cleaning. Think of each piece of work as clearing your mind and heart for the next phase of life, which will require your whole attention.

8. Then, get a good haircut.

You’re ready for the spring.

Attached to Vengeance

i have been sitting with my thoughts rolling around in my head about osama bin laden’s death. the best i could come up with to say is to never become a people who celebrate the death of others.

today my sister Autumn Brown sent her newsletter, and she says it all so gracefully:

Hello Good People,

Like many Americans, I sat with my eyes glued to the television on Sunday night waiting for the mysterious news relating the national security, for which the president had called an unprecedented press conference. My stomach was tied in knots: are we going to war (again)? My mother is traveling abroad, will she be safe? My family is spread across the country, will we be prevented from seeing each other? Did we finally make first contact with alien life?

And then each news channel in turn began reporting that Osama bin Laden had been killed by our government. I felt deflated, and then a growing sense of disgust. I worked for two years at a disaster relief non-profit whose offices overlooked the site of the towers. I remember avoiding Church Street on my lunch breaks so that I wouldn’t have to see the tourists with their Century 21 shopping bags posing for pictures with their children in front of the fence that hid what I could clearly see from the window of my 20th floor office: a gaping wound in the earth that still holds the bones of the dead. And I knew what was coming in the morning.

There would be celebrating. Hooting and hollering. Flag-waving and cheering. Everyone so full of joy at the death of a man. But when I look at the pictures and the footage of Mr. bin Laden and try to raise my anger, I find that I cannot. Yes, he masterminded a terrorist attack that almost killed my father, and succeeded in killing thousands of people. Yes, his actions and international persona gave the most powerful country in the world a face for its wars. Yes, he inspired and continues to inspire others to do violence. But I look at those pictures, and I see that footage, and I see a man. Just a man. A weak mouth, a long face, and lovely, sad eyes.

My friend said of the celebrations, “We are so attached to vengeance.” And when I look at Mr. bin Laden, I see someone who was also attached to vengeance. And if that does not create room for me to see him as a frail, flawed human – now, a dead human – then what can?

Having experienced my own injustices and physical and emotional violences, I find that I can look around and see so many places in my life that I could seek vengeance. My sister asks me, “Autumn, is there room for a transformative moment in the midst of this?”

And that is the question that still stands.