October 1, 2020
Action Letters, Organizing
044 Act Naturally
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“Act like all of nature. Act like the entire cycle of life and death and change and rebirth.”
– from the Welcome to Night Vale podcast
There’s being stuck between a rock and a hard place, and then there’s being stuck between multiple rocks, hard places and dangers that threaten your life, and the lives of those you love.
I started to write a few of the ways that I and others may be feeling trapped, figuratively or literally (anti-black violence, the election and THAT debate this week, SCOTUS, the pandemic, to name a few). And that list felt woefully incomplete, as I imagine there are even more rocks and threats in your life that I cannot see or know.
More than that, the image of being trapped felt untrue in some way…
So, instead of trying to wrap my hands, arms, legs and feet around everything that is happening in this moment, I am choosing to see the world around me as another giant wave in this ocean of change. In the next few weeks, we will experience the continued impacts of inequity, injustice and oppressive dynamics of our society as this wave crests. It will recede, and we don’t know when or in which direction it will go. For now, we can be in its powerful current, and swim, surf or sink.
I find myself revisiting many of the trauma and healing resources we explored with Arabella Perez in November to help with my attempt at surfing it. Now that we’ve shared the Ideas to Action Field Guide, I am taking the next six letters to explore one of each of the pathways laid out in the guide. This month I have felt constantly drawn to all of the resources in the pathway on Preparing for Change.
As Octavia Butler and the How to Survive the End of the World Podcast from the Brown sisters tell us, the world is change:
All that you touch you Change.
All that you Change Changes you.
The only lasting truth
is Change. God
– Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
While I feel called to protect my family, loved ones and community, I am also intentionally allowing my protection and strength to stay nimble, flexible and soft – so that I may be in and ride the waves of change, not sink inside them. Change can often call me to harden, to become immovable, to fall deeper into my pain, rather than move through it. I have compassion for that habit as a natural response within me, and I try to work with opening and connecting my breath and body to choose a different path.
Tao te Ching #78 comes to mind (Stephen Mitchell’s translation):
Nothing in the world
Is as soft and yielding as water.
Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible,
Nothing can surpass it.
The soft overcomes the hard;
the gentle overcomes the rigid.
Everyone knows this is true,
But few can put it into practice.
Therefore, the Master remains
serene in the midst of sorrow.
Evil cannot enter her heart.
Because she has given up helping,
she is people’s greatest help.
True words seem paradoxical.
The gifts we have collected (and are still collecting) in the Preparing for Change pathway are the invitations we have found most useful in this journey. They bring strength into the waves of change: centering on breath, finding supports to be in our body, and having consistent practices of restoration that fuel daily cycles of healing. I particularly invite you to check out:
- The ready state app for at-home physical therapy that can reduce pain, and open channels for healing
- The concepts on healing shared here
- The resources on breath
There is a constant rolling transformation in the world – we are either alive to it or not, staying flexible and soft to ride within it, or hardening our hearts, cutting off our energy, and calcifying in our pain.
The goal of this pathway is NOT a self-care that dampens and suppresses our responses to the world or wraps us in a damp blanket affirming our fears of our own fragility. The goal is to heal as we enliven and bring strength to meet the world and ourselves – as we truly are.
Put another way: “Fate whispers to the warrior, ‘You cannot withstand the storm.’ The warrior whispers back, ‘I am the storm.” – Author Unknown