memory lane

mmm just had dinner with a dear friend and we ran through memories – remember when what’s his name…and then we were…and that one party that was so sticky hot and everyone was…was someone shooting at us?…did you know i…yeah girl. the conclusion, thank god we were 19 once, and able to scream, sing, fall down, be in a city, be of a generation, hurl insults at the ruling class, believe everything was possible.

i’ve been of many minds of late. on one hand, i have given in to my deep urge to move to detroit, for love and mentors and to be immersed in a place that has largely moved beyond dependence on systems that rely on oppression. detroit is a violent place, a falling down falling apart place – and the most foward looking, viable solution place i have ever been.

on another hand, i just came out of an inspiring ruckus retreat where we basically decided to go harder than ever – or at least recently. our arc of success can’t simply be a good training, or a training that leads to a good action, or even a training that leads to an action that leads to good media. our arc has to be towards justice, towards tangible change in our communities. we have to put aside judgment, hurt, doubt and scarcity mindset and develop a body of fearless capable activists. i am excited to be ruckus at this time.

on yet another hand i watched the little short video, “if star wars were made by environmentalists”, a startling accurate critique of how many movements function now, measuring success based on process and media, rather than on actual change – changes we make and changes we demand for our survival. derrick jensen is the voice – and i went and watched other videos of his. he asks the question, do you believe that people will voluntarily make the changes needed in society for survival? and if you do not believe that – and based on all current evidence, it would be foolish to believe it – then what will you do? how far will you go? how will you resist? these are relevant questions, and this line of thinking is why i am so excited about urban agriculture, about a city like detroit which has depopulated to the degree that the city which was once home to over 2 million people now holds only 800,000. it’s why i am so excited about guerilla gardening, and reclaiming (or claiming for the first time) land for the purpose of community resilience. i am tired of complaint without action, and i am tired of action without change. i love the look of self-determination, particularly when it’s balanced by a sense of sustainability, a sense that there is a whole planet upon which we are all dependent, and with which we have to reformulate a physical and spiritual relationship if we hope to be here for any foreseeable future. he says that cities are not a sustainable model, because at the root a city is a mass of people that rely upon importation of goods, exhausting the local natural resources and having zero relationship with the people and places from which most of our food, clothing, fuel and materials come from. i am a city girl, but i know this is true – that i have lived at a point in humanity that is a golden age of urbanity, and that will likely pass into post-industrial agrarian modes, or implode. or both. jensen offers more questions than solutions, but they are relevant questions.

on another hand i am going to be an auntie, again. the miracle of my first nephew has changed my worldview. i am not merely interested in the world left for the next generation and those that follow – it is not a theoretical commitment anymore. my only purpose in life may be to carve out a world in which he can experience safety, acceptance, joy, sustenance, abundance. every day i want to learn something new that makes his world a better place. and now he will be a big brother, with a little sister or brother close enough in age to play with. and now both of them are my charge, my responsibility, the loves of my life. what a gift…

and there are more hands. there is a self that is only thinking about facilitation, truth and reconciliation, community processes and accountability. i have been thinking a lot lately about the ways in which people occupy their marginalization. every word from their mouths is critique or victimization. they want the freedom to act anonymously, in the ether, in the internet, behind closed doors, behind backs, calling personal attacks “not personal”, and trying to create divides and boundaries and borders that they believe will make them safe. i see it all over the “movement”, or the many movements for justice. i see a similar long-range hateration from the radical right…with no intention to change, only add to the negative and downward spiral of humanity. it is like a peak of powerlessness – so far from self-awareness and the ability to impact the world – that i feel overwhelmed with compassion, and grateful for the voice i have found to offer my thoughts and visions for the world. the reality is hard enough, the horrors we have exacted on each other and on the planet is enough. “everything we do now should be done in a sacred manner, and in celebration” – thus say the hopi elders. this makes sense to me. but the things we do in a sacred manner should be sacred things, as well – grieving, loving, creating, learning. why expend the precious gift of breath and blood pumping through our veins for anything less than amazing awareness and forward motion?

i don’t have most of what i have had recently – i have relinquished at least 2/3 of my belongings for this move i am making. the things i kept are things i love – memories, photos, music, books. the things i have given away had no memories in them, nothing essential. they were things i thought i needed but have realized i can live without. i feel lighter, like my touch on the earth has less damage in it, like i have distributed an old life, shed an old skin, in order to feel the shape and simplicity of the next iteration of my life.

i am a writer, and like many writers, i write worlds into existence. when i ask others to consider what they are being called to, i can hear the future opening up to me in my own life. writing to people about the love i feel for detroit made me realize i could no longer be a long-distance admirer of that city, i needed to know it more deeply.

it is becoming harder and harder for me to see the surface of things, the presentation, the false solutions we are told to galvanize around and advance as policy and politics. i want to live deeply, as if i were a genius, as if my life matters, as if the future depends on it. not on my particular contribution, but on the way i live – as honestly and freely as possible, feeling what is right and knowing it as the only possible strategy.

and the conversation i had tonight reminded me that i have always known this is the way i need to live, though it has looked differently in my life. so, again, i commit to integrity and wonder, and letting go of obeying, letting go of the labels and boxes and politeness and falseness that thwarts transformation.

it is good to remember – if i don’t want the bliss of ignorance then let me know only that which gives me power, and brings more justice to those i love.