all 12 everything

i love when there is something very cool in our relatively arbitrary shared systems.

like a magic moment in time – the way we measure time. at various moments, various humans have said Here is where we begin to count. we will measure our memories, mark our present in some grand arc, and from here we will vision and prophesy about that time which is not now and not behind us, but ahead.

12 has emerged as a dominant way to measure time, which makes it one of the most powerful numbers for us, and today is sort of magical. and no one else in the universe may know this moment is magical, because no one else may have even decided to count time.

but we did.

and we noticed that 12 is central to our cycles, and so this a uniquely earthling magic day.

humans live our global shared lives in cycles of 12. its how we track how old we are, every 12 months we have gained another measure of experience, we look back and we celebrate our births and the labor of our mothers. we look forward and make ludicrous commitments for the next 12 months, and then settle back into the rhythms of our days.

there are no less than 21 calendar systems in the world, and the vast majority of them have 12 months. why?

it takes about 12 months for the seasons to run through their great turning in the miraculous dance with sunlight that processes it into all life on earth.

that is, over the course of four seasons, the earth generates abundance from that steady light, absorbing it, filling up with it in the form of plants and trees and fruit, making light edible, harvestable, storing it in the soil and plants and in us, sparking the circle of life. within those seasons, 12 moons move through the night sky, or rather we move across the face of the moon 12 times, the effect of our own shadow creating one of our first maps and calendars.

our orbital cycle around the sun gives us on average 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness a day. the north pole of our clock is 12, the north star of our compass, the indicator that a new day comes, rising til high noon when the sun sits directly above us.

i’d say 12 is the romantic number in our love story with the sun, the day when she puts our love on top – as far as we know, no other planets in this solar system or anywhere else do quite what we do with sunlight…it’s a deeply unique relationship.

and 12 is the last year of childhood, supposedly we are about 12 when the cycle of life becomes active within us in the forms of blood and desire.

we even spend 12 years in our schooling programs in many parts of the world. that is what we generally agree it takes to prepare a human to be in the world on it’s own.

at what point does a number become sacred? even in our somewhat arbitrary timeline, only true because we all commit to practicing time in this way together, there seems to be something lunar and solar and grander at work.

in geeking out about 12 i saw that apparently the repetition of 12 means love in some cultures, a wholeness.

“On Twitter, @Jin_Campbell wrote: ‘Tomorrow At 12 mins, 12 secs after 12 o’ clock on Dec 12th, the time will be 12:12:12,12/12/12.'”

i think days moments and seconds like this remind us of the remarkable nature of our existence. we not not only evolved from cells to bodies, we not only miraculously reproduce life in a variety of species all over the planet, we not only process sun into all life here…but we learned to count, and in our counting we have patterns.

those patterns indicate that outside of our creating there is rhythm to the universe that is a 12 bar musical score, a 12 tone bell, a vibration of 12 heartbeats.

yesterday was a painful day where i live – long story short we are not a represented people here in michigan and yesterday we got reminded of that on a few levels.

so i want to claim that capacity to create something massive like time, claim the cycle of time to honor the gift of life, claim whatever wholeness exists in this particular day – to remember that we are not whole because someone else says so.

we are whole, we make magic, we made all 12 everything.

520 years, 391 years, right now

today i am grateful for the passage of time.

i have thought i understood things in my life, and almost everything i have thought has changed, and will change again. i am grateful for having a mind that is willing to change it’s understanding, that is as of today unsettled.

i am grateful for time because it allows me to see my mistakes, to atone, to change. it allows humans to do this – sometimes in one lifetime, sometimes after generations.

my life sometimes feels like an accumulation of mistakes. not regrets, just things that went awry, when i acted from misunderstanding or fear, tricks of timing and fate. those mistakes i am able to understand have become lessons, which i am learning not to repeat. the rest, so far, have become patterns.

i am part of a human arc towards justice, but a human condition, a tendency towards mistakes. i am of a species that has a hard time choosing the right thing, the thing that is selfless, community-oriented, and does not cause harm, the thing rooted in abundance.

and we have a hard time apologizing.

time is the gift that allows us enough space from our actions to truly contemplate them. to not just say the words of atonement, but to feel the pain of what happened and truly desire a different path.

520 years ago, europeans landed on the shore of the u.s. believing they had reached india. we laud the leader of that lost expedition to this day. i am grateful that in my lifetime i have learned the costs of this mistake, that i can be part of forgetting his name. i see the finding of this land as a collective mistake, i remember who was here when they came.

in this moment, i am part of seeing that history as a violent mistake, a pattern we don’t want to continue, something to apologize for and transform.

391 years ago, european settlers celebrated their first thanksgiving here. they were 129 years into the mistake. it was too late to turn back, and where could they go? – they were the unwanted, because of their religious practices and, for most of them, their poverty class status. they had been violently carving a home into this land. they were calling the people who had been here, who were defending their land and right to be here, savages.

i am grateful to have learned about genocide, displacement, colonization and imperialism, so i can look back over time and see that this country was founded with injustice. only by seeing that can we begin to see other ways forward, ways that generate healing, respect.

i am grateful to have learned about the people who were here, who still are, holding the wisdom of how to be in relationship to this land and still, after all this time, willing to share it, fighting to share it, to protect home.

i am grateful to learn that each human has a lineage, an indigenous story, and that we have the technology to learn it, to be in relationship with where we are from, what we did to get where we are now.

we are in this moment, as a nation, when we have not found a way to truly acknowledge the mistakes of our creation. we still teach the lies to schoolchildren – it’s too tender, yet. it throws our heroic greatest-nation-in-the-world mythology into question. it is one of the underlying reasons i think we stand with israel in their current occupying massacre. if they are wrong, then we were wrong. and we can’t see a way out.

when i think of this, i feel grateful that time moves in eras and epochs, mostly beyond our comprehension. this period that we are living in is not so long on that larger timeline. i am grateful that i can imagine a future where humans look upon this period of time as an age of ignorance. from colonization to capitalism to climate, we are racing so desperately into our own destruction as a species. i know, because time exists, that this period will pass.

and we will be there, or we won’t.

i am grateful to know that humans once believed the sun revolved around us, and now we don’t. i think the relatively recent belief that history revolves around white people is ending, slowly but surely, through science and love and education.

i am grateful for my multicultural, multi-class family, which provides me with ongoing opportunities to learn, to open my heart, to feel the whole story that led to my existence, the horror in it, and the beauty.

i am grateful for the ways i have seen, in my lifetime, love overcome imperialism, manifest destiny, racism, and borders.

i am starting to see that love is the only way to heal belief wounds (what i am currently calling the internal trauma that results from beliefs which are so egregious to humanity and our home planet that it actually damages us to believe – beliefs like ‘we must compete for resources to survive’, ‘white is more beautiful than any other race’, ‘there are only two genders’, ‘violence can result in peace.’)

i am grateful that in my life i have had enough time to change some of my fundamental beliefs, and begin to heal the belief wounds.

i am also grateful that i have begun to truly understand my mortality. while time keeps on moving, for myself, and those i love, there is no future that is guaranteed. i must be just now, i must do the best i can with my understanding now, i must embody love in all of my actions now.

as james baldwin said, ‘there is never a time in the future in which we will work out our salvation. the challenge is in the moment; the time is always now.’

so right now, i am radically grateful for this complex day, for the little i do know and the lot i don’t know, for my family, friends, comrades, lovers, healers, practice buddies, babies and the abundance of love in my life, which drops my jaw every day.