It’s been almost two full months since I have had the mental time and space to drop in and share. In all my absence, I’ve encountered so many parts of myself in a slew of varying experiences, it’s taken me a month just to synthesize it all into anything meaningful. And, if I’m being completely honest, I’m not sure if I’m even there yet – but it feels like it’s time to at least start the process of sharing. Bear with me – I’ll find the point by the end…
There have been a few key experiences I want to name before moving forward. In the beginning of August, I participated in a Direct Action training camp and protest against the Utah Tar Sands mine in Southeast Utah with a group called Peaceful Uprising; a gathering of people from all over the the US including indigenous people’s who were called to defend their native land. Skipping forward two weeks, past a school retreat and a couple nights camping in Great Basin and Lake Tahoe, my partner and I attended Burning Man in Black Rock City for the first time. Upon returning, I began the Masters of Somatic Psychology program at the California Institute of Integral Studies while taking the dive and moving out of the van and back into a house, this time with my partner. We’ve nested and unpacked and now, I sit in our living room, exhaling. I have internet and overhead lighting, a shower and a queen sized bed… and a man that makes me dinner when I’ve had a long day of school. It’s a whole new world…
I’ve spent the past few weeks talking about changing the world… About the state of the world. About the apparent inability to reconcile the state of the world with our need to change it.. About how to reconcile these many needs in order to change it.. About our incessant need to do something about the world… About trying to stop our habit of changing it.
I’ve sat with red rocks, rushing waters and expansive plains and witnessed the beauty of the world. I’ve witnessed the insanity of humanity and the utter brilliance of it. I’ve seen things I cannot unsee, learned things I cannot unknow, felt things I cannot forget, and witnessed things I cannot begin speak to. I’ve been in my body and out of my mind and back again. It’s as though every time I leave my body, I return to it with deep gratitude… a coming home to myself with gifts from the ephemeral and the material. A gift exchange that deepens my knowing of what is. I’ve shared with myself deep grief, deep shame, anger, frustration, othering, belonging, longing, joy, confusion, wonder, spectacle and awe over what it means to be a human – in this time, with these challenges, for this purpose.
All of these things – as abstract as they may seem (to even me) – are a exaggerated reminder of life in all its forms. These “larger than life” experiences are life all the same, and in their blown up presentation, they offer insight into what’s really happening on so many levels, it’s difficult to count. When faced with challenge, adversity, and struggle, we have the opportunity to look both at the symptoms cellular structure and in totality. It isn’t always an easy process of backing away to see the forest for the trees, especially when we find the single tree to be fascinating and overwhelming, but the ability to back away and see how we participate and why we are participating the way we are can provide us with the agency needed to make different choices. To participate in a different way. To know and begin living a new truth.
That new truth I want to play in now is one of graceful resistance – and though I’m not ready to speak to what that looks like, I am ready to start finding out what it takes to do it. The first step – for me – is grounding. Elsa Gindler once said that “inadequacy dominates us in general and in particular.” meaning in society, community, family, and in our individual experience. This grappling with our own sense of “not good enough” – especially in the face of so many challenges – takes us far away from our bodies to the point that we forget we belong to ourselves and to this earth. It’s through some process of grounding – of coming back to the earth we inhabit – that we can begin to remember we do not belong to challenge or oppression but that they belong to us and we have the right to set them down and start thinking a different way. No one can force us to carry ideals about ourselves we do not deeply internalize and believe. So we come back to our bodies. We feel the pull of gravity on our spines, we feel our necks connecting our heads to our hearts, we feel our feet on the ground and move our heads with complete freedom and slowly learn to trust the earth again. Her spinning will not let us float off into space, her firm embrace will not allow us to sink into the soil and drown in darkness. She will hold us all day long as we crawl around in the dark searching for ourselves and one another. We must feel heavy. We must stop trying so hard to hold ourselves up and trust that when we give our weight to our feet, to the earth, we have somewhere to push off from. We have the foundation we need to dance and reach and flail with freedom and exuberance. We have the grounding necessary for flight and exploration. What’s more, we remember where we come from so we can lift our heads and decide where we are going. But we must start from the bottom up. We must start not with ourselves, but with our connection to the whole. With our feet on the ground. Grounded and weighted, we become light enough to move. Free to be what we’re meant to be – the two leggeds walking the earth with all other beings in harmony, reverence, and awe. I recently said I’d like to be approached as you approach the wilds – with wonder, curiosity, and reverence for the unknown that lies before you for this is how I’d like to start approaching those that I meet. In order to do this, I must sense my own earthlingness so I can have it reflected back to me and hold it as the treasure it is.
I may still get amped up on the BART. I may still judge and other in a learned protective response. I may still struggle to be gentle with myself, even if I spend an hour each morning moving that intention through me in a yoga practice. But being willing to ask it of ourselves… to see what is lacking and come back to our being and try again is no small feat. I honor this process not just for myself, but for you and all other beings that walk this big blue globe. I hope that in this process of awareness and witnessing, we can begin to see with a less distorted lens.
Be gentle. Place your feet on the earth, dig your toes in the soil, and give yourself permission to get into your body by being on the earth. Don’t resist gravity. Give into your weight and trust in the earth to hold you. It will. It’s good like that.