if you’re good, say you’re good

i keep having this odd little experience where i ask people how they are and they tell me how bad the world is and then kind of whisper at the end ‘but i am actually loving being home’ or ‘i am actually doing good in spite of thewholeworldbeingincrisis thing’ or ‘i am actually thriving in these conditions.’

i want to explore for a moment how important it feels to claim what is good in this time.

first of all, BRAVO. whatever you have done to get to a good place right now took labor – spiritual, mental, emotional…and probably physical. i know that i am doing good right now because i go spelunking through the not-good with my therapist each week, and i cry a lot, and i have rearranged my living space so many times that my furniture has attachment issues.

when i ask my secretly good friends what they’re doing to create the good, it is some of the hardest work of their lives, setting new boundaries and patterns and permissions on their time and attention. it’s not easy to be good right now – don’t add the additional work of containing it.

second, it makes more support and mutual emotional aid possible. if we think everyone is just out here overextended and suffering, it becomes harder to risk asking for what we need. i am thriving in large part because i am in relationships where we stagger support, giving freely when we are the ones who have energy/love/money/time, and asking freely (or reluctantly, depending on our shapes around interdependence) when we are the ones struggling/lonely/broke/maxed out.

when i think back nine months, i was really caught in a rough mental space and all by myself far from home, and it helped so much to feel the loving presence of my friends who were more grounded and with their loved ones. they couldn’t fix my problems, but they had capacity to be with me as i faced my shadows and reintegrated into this moment of life, so wildly different from what i’d dreamed. now that my roots are back in home soil and i can notice each time the sun shines, i have more capacity to be with those in their shadows.

third, deep connections thrive on authenticity. a hidden light still shines, still shows, still emits warmth. in the same way it sows distrust to sense unnamed trouble in each other, dissonance can arrive with unnamed happiness, and especially intentionally denied joy.

there are times when we are truly all in the trenches of shadow times, dragging each other through salt and mud and just barely making our way through it. we can feel and name those times, and survive in the honesty that we don’t have much to offer each other except our own survival.

but honesty is just as important in our happiness, in our contentment. knowing that i can trust the words my friends speak to be a real reflection of how they are, and of what my intuition is sensing, allows me to relax and show up fully, knowing that they will let me hold them when they need holding, and let me know if they can hold me when i need holding, and let us just hold each other tight in the muck when it comes to that.

fourth, we learn good from each other. most of the ways i am practicing my contentment in this moment come from studying people who lived/live fully into their lives, in whatever time. black feminists past and present, close friends who point out the mind, body, spirit, boundary, listening and therapeutic balance of a good life. i am a practice adopter! if i hear something is working i try it:

life hacks for making more space in small space,
body practices for staying flexible and mobile indoors,
apps for meditation,
playlists,
therapists,
having more plants,
getting in water daily be it bath or shower,
drinking more water,
a desk that can transition to standing,
lavender mist near my bed,
more time with my ancestor altar,
having a clear end to work time and not expecting anything like my old full-time self to be possible right now,
intentional check-ins with loved ones,
watching movies at a distance – especially with kids,
doing what i love as my job,
surrounding my life with art,
being more fair in arguments,
reducing my belongings,
redistributing time from social media to reading,
having boundaries out loud in real time

…these are all learned behaviors.

a lot of the possible good in this time is circumstantial – the physical space you’re in and how many people are there with you, the guidelines and practices of covid-19 safety in your town and community, economic status, how many people you’ve lost and how close they are to your heart, how many crises you’re holding, your own health.

and inside all of the circumstances, there’s the possibility of this being one of the most beautiful, connected, grounded, liberating, fertile, creative, abundant times of your life.

there’s also, and this feels very related to abundance, the possibility that these are your last days. how do you treat precious time?

there’s a possibility that these are the first days of a great era in your life, or the days when you will have the most impact, the days of the hardest work, the biggest release, the most important memories you’ll carry forward.

you don’t have to shout it out everywhere. i think often of my teacher spenta kandawalla asking what it would take to be able to answer the question ‘how are you?’ with ‘i’m good,’ and to mean it.

so, if you’re good, say you’re good. it doesn’t negate reality, it weaves your reality into the fabric of this complex time.

you can also keep your complex answers, of course – i for one am grieving and good. stretched and good. want to go to a beach, and also good. but the main news, the thing i have worked hard enough to claim, the way i can be of use to my beloved community, is to be honest that right now, today, i’m good.

how to grieve for strangers

feel the grief. let the grief change you.

that’s enough. when there is great and unimaginable suffering happening – to strangers, individuals or masses – its ok, its necessary, to grieve.

when the suffering is manmade, we cannot be satisfied with knee jerk politically appropriate reactions.

we feel the need to state blame aloud before we give ourselves permission to feel the loss. who did this? who did this?

being human, being american, it almost always comes back to us in some way. this deepens the grief. at least, it should.

our crises proliferate, fatal games are played with our tax dollars, in our names, and the grief accumulates. the temptation to withdraw, to find a reason not to feel, is logical. but turning your eyes away won’t alleviate the truth of culpability, it will come find all of us out.

so tomorrow, may the scars of this devastation remind us that our goal can never be reform. we must consistently foment (r)evolution, we must “grow our souls”, and collectively outgrow the trappings of supremacy/enemy.

but right now, you don’t need an excuse for the tears, for however you grieve. you don’t have to debate historical paradigms you just googled or develop a crystal clear analysis to justify your grief – the destruction of whole families, of a city full of lives, a civilization, is grief for all of us.

one mode of grief that let’s me know i am changing is taking action. here are two actions i am taking:

1. Donate to Arab Resource & Organizing Center (monthly donations – the crises are long-term and so is the work): https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/AROC

2. make phone calls:

*** PLEASE SHARE WIDELY ***

URGENT CALL TO ACTION: CALL IN FOR #ALEPPO
(from spenta kandawalla, slightly edited call to action from a version compiled by Mohamed Chakmakchi which was adapted from: https://underthejasmine.wordpress.com/…/call-to-action-cal…/)

as we speak, civilians are being executed by the #assad regime in east aleppo & all over #syria. there are reports of hospital staff being executed, families being set on fire, mass executions and activists are saying their final goodbyes on social media. do we really want to live in a world where this is allowed to happen?

we need an immediate ceasefire now, protection of civilians, the lifting of the siege, airdrops of aid, freeing prisoners, an end to the war and for all parties, especially assad & his regime, to be held accountable for the crimes they have perpetrated.

inaction is complicity. we have to act now if we are to save the 100 000 civilians trapped inside besieged east aleppo. please call or email your MP, the UN, as well as russian & chinese embassies or consultates (since russia & china recently vetoed a ceasefire agreement put forward in the UN & iran has forces on the ground ). let’s flood their phone lines.

i urge you to call your senate members, call the russian, chinese & iranian consulates & the UN, and do whatever you can to end this.

California:
Boxer, Barbara –
(202) 224-3553 Email: www.boxer.senate.gov/?p=shareyourviews
Feinstein, Dianne –
(202) 224-3841 Email: www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/e-mail-me

Email Obama here:
https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact

consulates:
russian consulate: (415) 928-6878
chinese consulate: 415) 852-5900
iranian consulate: 1-877-917-7705

SAMPLE LANGUAGE:

“Dear Mr. President,
The atrocities that are unfolding in Eastern Aleppo, Syria are tremendously troubling and mark a new negligence on behalf of the international community and the United States. Reports from individuals inside besieged areas that entire groups of people are being massacred, blocked humanitarian corridors, and endless and indiscriminate bombing of entire neighborhoods are flooding my news feed.
The Assad regime has more than crossed your “red line” since the chemical massacres, and it has been met with ambivalence and complete silence on our part. Your administration did not face this, in hopes of finding a diplomatic solution. But, Mr. President, we cannot ignore this today. We are well beyond your previous aspirations for a peaceful end to the Syrian conflict and I understand that, but that does not mean we should continue this administration’s policy that has allowed the regime to go unchecked with their systematic killing.
I urge you, will all my heart, that you immediately denounce the actions of the regime and the Russian government and take the necessary steps to ensure the safe removal of the remaining Syrian citizens. Put an end to the massacres, to the indiscriminate bombings, to the regime’s continued “kneel or starve” campaign. Please, I beg you, that you do not ignore the atrocities we have allowed to continue and escalate. Our humanity depends on it.
Sincerely,”