Hello from an eerily smoky Tacoma. If you live anywhere on the west coast, you’re probably under a similar sky today; and if you don’t live on the west coast, perhaps you’ve seen the news about the unprecedented fires out here. It’s … devastating. Jamie and I are hunkered down in the house because of the hazardous air quality outside; but we are immensely grateful to have a safe place in which to stay indoors, we are healthy, and we’re holding in our hearts all of those whose lives are being upturned by the fires. ❤️
Holy moly … what a time.
Jamie stepped out momentarily the other day and snapped this picture of the sun, blotted out almost entirely by the thick layer of smoke that currently blankets all of the west coast. I’m not being dramatic when I say that living in these conditions for the past several days makes for a moment-by-moment battle to not succumb to outright panic and despair.
(I know, I know: this is supposed to be a “Love Letter,” and this is some dark stuff. But if some of the marks of love are honesty, authenticity, and vulnerability, then … well … here we are.)
And, I mean, if it were only the fires, we’d grit our teeth, rally to help those who’ve been most affected, and get through.
But it’s not only the fires.
It’s the longterm marathon of the pandemic, and the nearly 200,000 lives lost to it in the U.S., and a national government’s refusal to coordinate a response.
It’s a historic economic crash, and tens of millions of people out of work, out of food, and facing homelessness.
It’s the rise of emboldened white nationalists, and epidemic police violence, and immigrant families ripped apart and kept in cages at the border.
It’s … a lot.
And it’s so much more than I’ve even written here.
And, to be perfectly frank with you: I’ve not been doing awesomely the last couple weeks as far as my emotional and psychological resiliency is concerned.
I don’t say that to worry you; I’m only sharing it to be real. And my psychological state isn’t anything to be actively worried about, either. I have tools to deal with periods of increased stress, which I’m pulling out every day to navigate all of this; and, while it’s been a tough couple weeks, I’ll be fine.
And I also say it because … if you’ve been feeling like I’ve been feeling, I want you to hear this: you are not alone. You are not crazy. This is a legitimately hard time, in which a lot of people are legitimately suffering; and honestly I’d be more worried about us if we were experiencing all of this and not feeling anything at all.
So … what now?
Well, some good news: nothing about the current state of the world is permanent. But one of most important realizations — reminders? — I’ve had in the last few weeks is that the future is ours to make.
And that means that we have power. Power in how we choose to use our time, our energy, our relationships, our votes, and our resources to write the future that we want for ourselves.
A future that can be characterized by love and justice, health and abundance, compassion and equity, a healed planet and an unwavering commitment to the common good.
We can have that world. But we’re going to have to make that world.
We can make it rain. We are, after all, Clouds.
Here are a few of the ways in which I’ve chosen to harness my power in the last few weeks:
- Reading about how to undo my own racism.
- Making phone calls to protect voting rights in Wisconsin.
- Encouraging everyone I know to make a plan to vote.
- Engaging with art that challenges our adherence to status quo power structures.
- Learning from stories of empowered people about how to live more fully in harmony with what I know to be true.
I’d love to hear how you’ve been harnessing your power. If you’d like to share, or if you’ve got questions about my list or the links in it, send me a message, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And gosh: if you’re still here, thanks so much for reading all the way through.
There are times in my life when my path to the next right thing requires me to get to the very bottom of myself first. The last couple weeks have felt something like that.
The encouraging news is that, in the last couple of days, I have begun to experience something that feels like rising. I’m not exactly sure what that means yet, or what my next moves will be; but for now, I’ll be grateful, I’ll listen, and I’ll keep listening.
Love and rain — shannon