i don’t have too much to say today but i saw this building the other day and snapped a shot on my phone. you can see the sky through the remaining wall and windows. the buildings in the back look like the twin towers to me. i wish i had a better camera. i am still new enough to the D that when i turn a corner and see something like this my jaw drops while everyone around me keeps going, oblivious or beyond.
this week i had several little ‘learning to live in detroit’ moments. i had to shovel my car out from the snow all by myself. prior to detroit i spent a carless decade in ny and then 3 snowless years driving around cali. novice. it took me half an hour, and i did it wrong in several ways, getting snow on myself and in the car before mastering a stroke that moved the snow both off the car and away from me. i left too much snow on the hood, which melted while i was in meetings and was iced over by the time i returned, so i spent another half hour chipping that away until a detroit elder drove by laughing at me and said, ‘you don’t have to get it clean child, just clear enough to drive. get in the car before someone else does and drives it away.’
i got home to the little locked lot [where we park the car so it doesn’t get stolen, because having a stolen car is a more common experience in detroit than having a job or health insurance] and the part of the lock where you slip in the key was iced shut. i looked around me but there was no magic, no elder, no answer. so i found a lighter in the car and melted the ice inside the lock.
each of these moments was a meditation, a surrender to the time and place and reality of my circumstances. upon completion, each of these tasks became a victory. my life is very busy right now, i need every victory i can get. plenty of people want to suggest things, tell me how to do things, and give me things to do – but not enough people want to celebrate. my nephew is a teacher in this – he is amazed by everything, especially everything he himself figures out.
my friend gibran rivera, who i am realizing has become a teacher-friend because i now hang on his every word, said something to me the other day which landed hard. he posted an article on multitasking, and how it literally seems to make people less effective and overtime weakens the mind. i said that i prided myself on multitasking, which is true; i play tetris on conference calls or take notes, i keep a show running in the background while i write essays, i say it helps me focus – and i believe it.
gibran responded: “consider the amazing power of your attention, you shape your universe with it – imagine this power when focused!”
facing the elements in detroit is reminding me about this, giving me lived experience with it. i can’t multitask while walking on ice and snow, i have to step. i have to shovel the snow off the car without getting soaked. i have to give it my whole attention.
and then give my whole attention to the next task, and the next, whether its work, or a conversation with my sister, or listening to my partner, or cooking, or watching a movie.
oh – tonight i was dragged away from my computer and phone to a movie. i recommend it – thoroughly entertaining and interesting and a brilliant depiction of the inside of a broken mind and/or heart, an episode – it’s called My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done, by Werner Herzog, produced by David Lynch. there’s one scene where the lead character, who has committed matricide, screams “why is everyone looking at me? why are the mountains looking at me?” and it’s just the quintessential element of my own experiences of mental illness – being completely consumed by the ego. which led me to think – again – that there is sanity, longevity, and sustainability in the collective, the collaborative, the humble, the selfless.
and..it’s late and i didn’t come here with much to say