i can’t talk small (a rant)

i want to tell you how i feel, so i can’t talk small. there is a tragedy all around me because…because i was born?

and wherever i go it is on me, a cloud dripping tar, blood stain on my shirt, a hole in my skull and it feels like my dreams and my future are seeping out of me, being twisted out of me, snapping like a hen’s neck in a hungry fist.

i hear new names every day and i take them in my mouth, and the way i grieve is like i would for a beloved. these names of strangers become new lover syllables crossing my tongue. i find myself partnering our stories, drawing a darker line on the pattern between my life and his death, my heart and her absence.

all this shared grief is softening my life – our lives. we can’t talk small.

don’t disparage each other. speak love or just ignore each other, there are many paths and we can simply walk them differently. oh is he a liar? is she a fake? perhaps they are just small, small hearted, small in vision. they will not grow by thunder.

we must be massive, compelling, the scale of our vision post-reactionary and post-nationalist, planetary at minimum.

be honest. we are fucked in a complex intersectional all-encompassing way. don’t offer me small singular solutions – not one camera can capture this injustice. not one policy, not one leader, not one issue can claim the center.

no – the landscape of this battle is the most vast we know – that of the imagination. we are punching and kicking and marching and chanting our way out of an imagination that cannot hold us, cannot see us alive and celebrate us. we must imagine from deep inside our root system a world of right relationship – between everything that lives and everything that supports life. not just familiar lives. life.

there are so many big conversations.

how are you moving towards freedom, in what formation?

how do you recover from each blow, how do you advance through the waves?

who do you care for and who cares for you?

what are you destroying with every breath, and what are you creating?

when do you feel most alive? and how do you cultivate that feeling – do you let being alive swallow your time, take precedence?

what must you leave behind on the path to liberation, and how good are you at letting go?

and so on, and so on. these are the conversations i need, don’t tell me about the weather, don’t say please thank you i am so sorry. it doesn’t matter.

life matters. wonder matters.
love and friendship and children and creating and being free and transformation matter. black liberation and ending white supremacy and evolving beyond borders and re-indigenization and an informed public matter. art and music and pleasure matter.

i can’t talk small to you, don’t ask me to fit this into a smile and an offhand comment today when the tears are wet on my cheeks and every time i fly when my plane touches down there is news i can’t handle. wake up, let me wake you up, don’t float in the shallows of human experience. sorrow carves out the space for joy (khalil gibran). grief is gratitude (jai of kalani).

with every breath i can feel more. i am going to blossom beyond my skin. i believe our next evolution is emotional, is interdependent, and we have to feel each other and we have to deeply listen.

because we can’t be small, not anymore, not ever again. in fact i love being huge – i want to billow through the door and make the world of small minds and petty tolerances so uncomfortable. i want to be as grandiose as religion and as incomprehensible as the galaxy.

when someone says we will win eventually, i know what i mean by winning. i don’t mean surviving. i mean changing everything that keeps humans from freedom, joy, wholeness, safety and love.

that’s what i am up to – thinking beyond my head, feeling beyond my body, being fully alive in real time. and i can’t help it, it’s just that ‘i am who i am doing what i came to do’ (audre lorde) and while it is intimate and incremental, it is the biggest work i have ever put myself to.

that’s all. that’s all. that’s why i can’t talk small.

5 Responses to “i can’t talk small (a rant)”


  1. 1 LaTanya

    Say it AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN!!

  2. 2 Roberta Boulton

    I was very touched by your rant. I live in the Boreal forest surrounded by water, animals, trees and beautiful rocks. May the peace of this offering fill you with hope and beauty.

  3. 3 Ama

    Adrienne, you said everything I wanted to say. We were so inspired by your words that we used some of them in our flyer for a public interest law retreat that’s coming up. In respect for you as a writer, I wanted to check if that was ok. Much love.

  4. 4 Adrienne

    glad to hear of it. in general i am always fine being quoted/credited. best to your retreat!

  5. 5 Nate

    Just heard this read at an organizing event. Changed my view on life, opened my eyes and inspired me. Keep writing, I’ll be following

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