we will survive!

many of you may have caught on to this by now, but i am obsessed with survival skills. part of why i went to be a part of ruckus was because of the time we spend out camping.

it’s not easy for me to indulge this obsession – i came of age in nyc and developed a whole different set of survival instincts. also, i have bougie tendencies, i recognize it, and so does anyone who was with me on those ruckus camping experiences. but living off the land/going back to nature appeals to my post-apocalyptic revolutionary self, and i am slowly accumulating skills.


i read lots of science fiction, i live in detroit which feels as rural as it does urban most of the time, and i pay attention when i am around folks who could teach me something important, like how to start a fire, or how to compost in the city (even through the winter, which i just did), or how babies can be safely birthed without meds or hospitals, or how to dig a toilet.

so imagine my joy this past weekend when i went to spend a day with detroit summer at a cottage far off the beaten path outside the city, and there was no water! no toilet flushing water, no hand washing water, no dishwashing water. what to do? we had 10 youth in the cottage on the lake, which was totally frozen over (folks – not us – were driving on it later that night), we were surrounded by snow and the heat was working.

once we determined that we weren’t going to turn around and head home, we started thinking of creative solutions. within an hour we had come up with a system for managing the toilet – melting snow on the stove-top and using it to flush the toilet, not putting paper in the toilet unless it was a more significant contribution, and encouraging those who felt comfortable with it to actually go to the bathroom outside.

a neighbor, in the meantime, helped us to isolate the section of pipe that had frozen, and showed us how setting up a light bulb next to it would eventually resolve the issue. he also legitimized our strategy: “well, we got lots of snow – that’s how they used to do it!”

i was incredibly satisfied each time i flushed the toilet with melted snow water, and somewhat disappointed when the pipe was finally unfrozen and the water came back on. it wasn’t until later that i became aware of just how sparked i was by the challenge of applying survival skills in a way the youth could experience.

it also wasn’t until later that i realized how funny i must have looked, mixing my snow on the stove, self-assured that we would survive.

go ahead, laugh now.

i ain’t afraid a no ghosts

in fact, i see them everywhere.

not literal ghosts, but flashes of my life that come up and lay themselves out over a moment, reminding me of who i have been.

this weekend was the 6 year anniversary of a breakdown where i almost checked out for good. and i didn’t remember until it had passed. even as i was doing work this weekend around healing and history, i didn’t remember the date. which is a good sign in and of itself.

the thing is, the ghosts have been all over. ghosts of beliefs i held then – that life was a burden, that i could be bored, that i had to settle in some parts of my life, that happiness was an illusion, that i could never change.

“i am nothing. this life is nothing.”

i often say to people that perception is everything, but i know it is more than perception. life is not only how you see it, but what you create out of it, and within it. no matter what the story is, it is a tragic story, a romantic story, an emotional journey, a remarkable journey. realizing all we cannot know, and all that we as humans have done to throw the gift of life back at creation – this awareness can make it seem impossible to find peace, balance, justice, love and joy in the chaos.

i know the ghosts of that feeling, they shadow my heart when i see the news we choose to cover, the way we consume and sacrifice the needs of others to pursue our own desires. not black, because i love black – my ghosts are gray. sometimes they are like a fire curling up the edges of a moment.

and then i see the viciously alive fleshy world that i live in. it’s decadent, all the colors, all the experiences. i love it – i love the sky, the dirt, i love the way wind feels on me, i love to put my body into the water. i love my body, just being still enough to feel that in spite of my best intentions my heart is still beating. i am so much stronger now than i have ever been.

i love realizing that humanity has to redirect itself towards being in community again, that i have to practice being in community with my love, my family, my friends, my neighbors, my coworkers. i love realizing that humans have to take actions that show the world they want – they must practice the world they want until it becomes part of our evolutionary story.

sometimes i think part of me crossed a line that day, and carries the memories i can’t reach. maybe it wasn’t the first time – perhaps i have the kind of angels who take memories away, leaving only the emotional imprint. i can see them out of the corner of my eye, but they know better than to let me catch them.

i’m still here, with my ghosts, and with moments of joy. i am learning and creating every day. i am engaged in the kind of work that reaches beyond my small life. the way i live my life is closer every day to the way i believe a good life should be led.

love, love, love.

this quote came into my knowledge today, while watching twin peaks, which is part of my project to watch all these shows and movies i missed which are a part of my generation’s experience:

“i choose to live my life in the company of gandhi and king. my concerns are global. i reject absolutely revenge, aggression and retaliation. the foundation of such a method is love. i love you…”