I entered into my relationship with 2020, filled with hope. While I have felt the steady decline personally, each year since 2015, I resolved that THIS YEAR would be the difference.
It has been different.
It has made a difference.
While the things I had vowed to see done this year were not exactly petty/shallow:
- finish my book.
- complete my book proposal.
- begin the publishing path journey.
- do more yoga.
- spend more time adventuring.
- save more money.
- focus on intentional quality time with my people.
They weren’t on par with the sci-fi movie we’re all about to live, either.
These weren’t bad goals, but they weren’t really flexible ones either. (except the yoga one, but that’s a bad joke.)
Today is the very middle of this very, very, very hard year. While so many of us have lost big, this year, I find my soul hesitant to say that it has been a “bad year”.
Sure- CRAP has happened. Finances are almost non-existent for many of us, and businesses/ventures we’d worked so hard to build- are simply gone. So much loss and devastation has happened, but for the first time in my adult life I am watching a world question what our part can be to insure that these losses are not in vain. That we, as a collective, can grow from them.
We were all forced into this global Pause, and for one unexpected moment we could not help but see that the earth could instantly begin to heal…
What about us?
Within this Great Pause, we were pushed to take stock- stock of our resources, relationships and our reasons. For the briefest of seconds, we all stood terrified, on the same page reading the same words. We all tried to grasp the palms of one another as we simultaneously inhaled, and exhaled, and questioned if this was it.
The “big bad” is far from over, but once it became a symbol of old news and new normal, a majority of us went back to life as usual. We chose to forget the things we feared, which also meant we had to let go of the goodness of together.
Then one night, an angry man kneeled on the neck of another man, murdering him.
This tragedy happened before humanity had put enough distance between them and the season of Pause. Our human hearts were still a little exposed, a little raw and ready for something real to happen.
And the people rose up.
A dying man cried out for his mama, and told the world he could not breathe, and human beings of all colors came face to face with the reality that we have been choosing to barely breathe for the majority of our lives…
Fresh air is there, for the taking.
We saw this, in the Pause.
The Oxygen of together restores life. It does.
The bitter people call this idea divisive. They realize, but don’t admit, that change is scary and they are “happy enough” barely breathing. In the Pause they breathed so hard that their lungs ached, and while that felt cathartic in the moment, the moment was fleeting and the pain seemed overwhelming and scary.
Barely breathing sounds like silence.
It looks like shallow obsessions, for distraction’s sake.
It looks like consumerism- starvation for that next thing, because we’re internally convinced that will be the very thing that will make the ache to inhale subside.
The people who killed the Man who could not breathe, had titles to serve and protect. Can we not all see that this tragedy effects every single one of us? Because of them, (and other fear and anger driven officers) many have turned on all of the men and women also sworn to serve and protect.
This is not a Blue issue, this is a BREATH issue.
Those killers, they didn’t want to breathe either.
Killers do not always wear a uniform. When they do, they hurt their brethren too, because it distracts and divides the people. This world is filled with good people, and bad people. The bad people wear all types of clothing.
Sometimes good people are white, but generations of evil white action has made our light skin hard to trust.
Sometimes the angry, hate-filled “bad guy” is the one beating his wife and children, and the police save them and take him away.
Sometimes, as we’ve seen, the bad guy wears the uniform.
This isn’t a blue issue, this is an abuse of power issue.
It is a refusal to truly see, issue.
The people who stay silent and protect them, the ones who stay silent for fear of rocking the boat- the ones who stay quiet because they are “happy enough” in their ignorance- those people have been holding their breath beneath the water for so long that they can no longer even imagine using muscles to kick to the surface and gasp for air…
But what happens to them then?
Have you tried reasoning with a hateful racist? You can’t.
You can not change the mind of a dead man.
In the Pause I learned that I need to breathe.
I NEED to fill my lungs with people and kindness, with unity, art and collaboration. I need to hold hands with everyone who is different than me.
I NEED to breathe in the wisdom and stories of others, and damn it, I NEED to see how my refusal to do so, for so long, contributed to the problem.
Last year one of the most important people in the world, to me, decided I was only worth her silence. She stopped talking to me, stopped regarding me, and in the journey of that decision, the oppression of her silence killed our relationship. I will always love her, but her silence killed a part of my heart that had spent nearly two decades connected to hers.
I am not angry at her. I hold only prayers for a beautiful life and a healing gratitude at the time we had together.
Silence is disregard.
Disregard is apathy.
Life cannot be sustained apathetically.
Silence is death. Often a slow, drowning death, and we may be so hell-bent on our refusal to inhale that we fail to see the Grim Reaper coming straight for us.
I can be silent no more.
I am breathing, filling these lungs.
There is no sort of. You either inhale, or you don’t.
You love, or you don’t.
You listen and learn, or you lose. You may not feel it today, or tomorrow, but it’s coming.
The Pause paved the way for changes like we’ve never seen. People rose up and protested for brunches and haircuts, and this bold action led to the opening of an unready nation…
Just you watch what happens when even more people finally begin to take real breaths, and rise up for LIFE. Black Lives Matter. We aren’t saying Only Black Lives Matter, but instead crying out that we take notice- injustice is killing and we all need to stand up and help.
Today, July 1st, I am inhaling the grace, wisdom and strength of the brave Black women I am befriending, the ones I am listening to, the conversations I am having and the ugly truths I am facing, regarding my own privilege and fragility.
I am admitting that this is not a journey I am fit to lead, and so I will listen and learn until forever. Letting go, further, of what does not serve this path towards an equal world, where differences will be celebrated and color radiates, in all shades, like the sun.
As my filled lungs exhale, they will practice the whys… with a voice that grows less shaky every single day, I will say-
With this I will inhale again, breathing deep the awareness of an ill-designed system, and do what I can before exhaling…
Say their names.
And I will never breathe them all because there are just so many, but in remembering I can be moved forward. We all can. These horrors of a structured design meant to keep us afraid and on top, must not go on.
Months ago we sat frozen in fear as the entire planet seemed short of the very machines the hospitals needed to breathe for the sick people who could not breathe on their own.
With a knee to the neck, George Floyd had his breath stolen, and the world rose up, giving breath to movement.
It is time for us to come together and breathe again. Black. Blue. Brown. White.