Nothing is real until you have a relationship with it

Today I applied to jobs in Argentina, Burma, and San Francisco. Then I read the news. Then I signed a million petitions. Called senators and only got busy signals. Then I listened to a podcast with Ethan Knight, founder of the American Gap Association and during the talk he said something that resonated with me more than anything has in a long time:

nothing is real

until

you

have a relationship with it

True story, I thought. You don’t really integrate something until you have actually made it part of your narrative and made it part of your life in concert with everything else. Then I read a short piece in the New Yorker by Edwidge Danticat (Haitian author who I admire and enjoy immensely) who talks about the power of poetry in times like these where liberty and freedom are hopes instead of realities.

Cultivating a relationship involves

benching your imagination

and letting reality take the floor.

Courting an idea, a person, a place

Making it part of who you are in some small way.

This weekend I visited Mendocino

mingled with hippies

smoked various kinds of joints on a stranger’s porch, living room floor, kitchen

Shared hugs and smiles

One with Willow, a woman who personified the tree remarkably

her smoky white, woolly dreads, nestled in a very messy bun

draped around her delicate head

like whisps of willow branches (yes with an “h”

because that sounds quieter and more serene).

She is weathered and alive,

kind and open,

forgetful and caring.

“I can’t remember your name, but you remembered mine very well,” she whispered knowingly.

I drummed to the beat of someone else’s drum and rhythm

and my world stood still

the metronome of time only ticked

to the tune we made together

my own was not noticeable as it mingled, mixed, and eventually became muted.

And this is what we learn in times like these.

How we are better served when we work, live, sing, chant, rage, protest

all

together

and our own voice, our own experience, becomes something louder, bigger

than we ever could have projected.

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