I had big plans for May. My neighbor and I were going to plant a tree every day for the entire month. We were going to tend the soil, commune with nature, oxygenate the neighborhood, greenify a little patch of our world.
When Covid-19 hit, it was clear we needed to improvise.
So, early one morning we loaded up our bikes with trowels and gardening gloves and rode to the woods in search of white oak seedlings.
It was a beautiful morning. The sun was bright and warm. I loved the feeling of heat and cool on my skin as I pedaled into the wind. I’m not a strong biker so I was pretty darn proud of myself out there in my sneakers and helmet, getting exercise, narrowing my carbon footprint, following through.
Pretty soon we were crawling along the forest floor, digging up tiny trees. They were so adorable, reaching up through the dead leaves, their baby leaves still tightly wrapped around the tip of their tender stems.
We biked them home, mixed up a beautiful batch of soil, peat, vermiculite and compost, and lovingly, painstakingly transplanted all 20 of them to individual pots.
We were so excited! And proud! I took a picture of them all in a line under the spring sun and posted it on Instagram. 🙂 Mission Accomplished.
The next day my neighbor texted me. Listen, I think what we did yesterday was lovingly painstakingly transplant 20 poison ivy plants. (Frowny face).
By that evening, it was clear that is exactly what we had done.
Now, I am highly allergic to poison ivy. I can get it just walking by a single leaf. I have a vat of Technu soap at home that my husband bought me so that every time I think I’ve been anywhere near the stuff, I can immediately jump in the shower and scrub every inch of my skin.
But I didn’t do that after we finished traipsing in the woods.
I didn’t think of it.
I didn’t think that not only might I have exposed myself to a bit of early spring poison ivy oil but that I literally sat bare-legged and bare-armed in a patch of poison ivy, digging up plants by the roots, carrying them to my bike, riding them home, and lovingly, painstakingly, transplanting them to their very own individual pots.
The rest of the week went downhill pretty fast.
It sucked because, obvie, having large patches of your skin ravaged by a bubbling, swelling, throbbing rash that itches so fiercely you want to rip your skin to the bone does, in fact, suck. But also because there is a character that lives in me that says, Of course. Of course this happened to me. Nothing I do works. Nothing I try gets any traction. No matter how sincere and grand my efforts, it always fizzles out or backfires completely.
This is just one of the many characters that lives inside me but she’s pretty scrappy in her morose defeated way, stomping all over the other characters that have cheer and hope and resilience and pluck and imagination. Sadly, she had some pretty good fodder for her Everything Sucks What Does It Matter All Is Lost global point of view given the increasingly monstrous behavior of cancer in the WH and all of his co-conspirators.
I mean, it’s pretty bad out there, right? While some of us, the MAJORITY of us are getting up early to bike to the woods in the sunshine to help spread new life, greenery and health to this world there is this pernicious minority hell-bent on spreading a boiling oozing debilitating rash of despair.
I think it takes a special kind of skill to acknowledge the suck without going down for the count. It helps no one to aggressively paint a smiley face on the suck nor is it correct to collapse into the lie that it all sucks.
Suck is a part of life. It’s one of the characters in life, if you will.
Despair is a kind of suck that wants us paralyzed. It wants us to think nothing we do matters. It wants us to stay down, to give up.
The antidote is action.
Now: Awareness is action. Compassion is action. Self-care is action.
And then, taking action is action.
I couldn’t do much this week. I applied many ointments and creams and gels. I scratched myself raw. I resisted the scratch. I complained. I hobbled around half-dressed. I finally called the doctor and got a prescription for prednisone.
It’s drying up but it’s still there, trying to keep me down, like the mindset that says It Won’t Work For Me, like the fuckers in power who want us feeling helpless and numb, who want us to give up and tune out, stick our fingers in our ears and say, la la la, I’m not listening.
But we’re not going to do that.
We’re going to cultivate the skill of acknowledging the suck while not going down for the count.
Because we must.
Because it’s the truth.
Because it’s what this time is calling for in all of us who are not completely lost in the cult of madness and greed and a deep sickness of the soul.
How are you going to do it?
I’m asking for real.
I’m looking for inspiration.
I’m looking for ideas.
We all have different skill sets. And varying tolerances for stepping out of our comfort zone to add new skills to our sets.
We have different resources–outer and inner.
Some of us can make calls. Sign petitions. Write letters and postcards.
Some of us can go to virtual town halls and rallies.
Some of us can donate money.
Some of us can volunteer our time, deliver food, sew masks, paint thank you signs for essential workers.
Some of us can create programs, start a non-profit, run for office.
Don’t let the rash of injustice shut you down.
The antidote is action.
All of us can do something.
So, Dear Reader, self-care it up. And then action it out there in the world, in whatever way you can. Self-care. Action. Self-care. Action. Rinse. Repeat.
And tell me about it. 🙂 I’d love to hear from you.
Sending so much love.