I see some of my friends saying they need to break from facebook and the constant stream of terrifying news. I want to say this to you:
When people shame you for taking a break, take a break anyway. You’re a grown up. You know what you need.
We are not built to take in the volume of images nor the amount of information at the rate we’re trying to absorb it. Our circuits are fried. We’re operating on adrenaline, cortisole, lack of sunlight and beauty. My guess is most of us haven’t been doing a great job of staying hydrated, nourished or rested. Nobody makes good decisions or can take meaningful, effective action with fried circuitry and depleted adrenals.
Taking care of yourself is not something to feel guilty or ashamed about. Self-care is what adults do so we can handle what’s coming at us. Self-care is not a privilege. It’s a requirement.
During every struggle for freedom, during every outrageously oppressive regime, it’s been the artists, musicians, dancers, comedians, ministers, poets, actors and writers who provided connection, hope, laughter and sanity.
Please take a break from the ugliness! We need you! We’re counting on you to invite us to steal some moments or hours of beauty, respite, enchantment and ease.
We’re all doing the best we can to bring about the changes to our culture that will make it more just, equitable, kind and beautiful. We can’t do what we do if we listen to shame telling us sitting in front of a screen watching horror after horror scroll by is the mark of someone who “really” cares. We can’t do what we do while our cells are awash in adrenaline and we’ve forgotten to eat.
Think for a moment about the contributions made to modern civilization by Black Americans–from Spirituals and the Blues to Jazz & Rock n’ Roll. From disco to pop, funk, rap, hip-hop and house. Music–writing it, listening to it and dancing to it didn’t come out of privilege. It was born out of the human need for respite and beauty. Raise your voice in protest, yes! But, raise it up in praise and song as well.
Stick Dance, Tap Dance, the Charleston, Lindy Hop, the Twist, Disco, the Moonwalk, Krump, Hip Hop and Twerking . . . furious dancing for furious times that have never, ever ended. Move the body. Sweat your anger and your prayers.
Zora Neal Hurston, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, Audrea Lorde, bell hooks, Ntzoke Shange, James Baldwin, Saul Williams — writers of golden words giving voice to pain, oppression, atrocities and the juicy, succulent, fragrant life which continues amid it all.
Artists and visionaries observe, absorb, integrate and express. Art is resistance. Just about everyone I know who does what they love –calls it their art.
Take a look at this image:
Leisha Evans’ unprotected body is soft in stance, yet with spine erect. There is no fear in her demeanor. She is not exuding anger, but calm. She is in complete control of the space, energetically. In contrast, the men clad in armor are completely off balance. They, protected by weapons and full riot gear, with a line of dozens more militarized police-men behind them–are pumped full of adrenaline. They are fearful. Confused. Conflicted.
In my eyes, this is an image of the old culture (the police-men) staggering and toppling before the gaze of the Goddess (leisha) gracefully ushering in the new and, as yet unclear, paradigm. This is how walls come down. This is love in action proving itself greater than fear or violence. This is an activist who looks like she probably got some rest the night before. This is a woman in alignment with her emotions, thoughts and actions.
We are all allowed to sleep and pray and breathe and rest under the sheltering, star-studded sky. We are allowed to laugh and dance and seek out every beauty there is to be savored. We are allowed to take a hot bath or a long nap or shut off the news for a while. We must take time to breathe, eat, sleep, kiss our children and meet with friends. We must be able to turn to one another for replenishment, understanding and compassion. In turn, we must be healthy, rested and nourished enough to provide well for those we love when it’s their turn to rest. And, we must take time to recover from the last round of horror because, by now we know the next round is coming right down the road. We must be ready for it.
When we are centered and in alignment with our emotions, thoughts and vision, we bring our whole selves to our art, our activism and whatever shape our role as culture-changer takes.
Bring us the gift you’re here to bring, whatever shape that takes. Share your moments of tenderness, connection and sweetness as often as you share the news story, the massacre, the political debauchery. Recite your personal tales of triumph, courage and your will to live. Weave for us your vision of the world we’re calling into being. We cannot do a thing about what happened. Every ounce of energy is needed for the present moment and the vision for tomorrow. In the midst of the collapse, the sun still rises and sets. The stars still whirl in the heavens. The tide comes in and out. The wind dances in the trees. While we witness the worst of what some humans are capable of, we must bring forth the best of what we’re capable of.
Living in a state of fear-flee-freeze is right where they want us. We’ll “dismantle the master’s house” when we stop using their abusive tools of shame, fear, blame, judgement and guilt toward self or other.
Take care of yourselves. We need you well rested, well fed, well loved, well hydrated and well grounded so you can keep doing the work of culture change.
Take care of yourselves. We need you to be there when we’re facing exhaustion & burn-out. We need you when the next horror arrives on our doorstep.
Take care of yourselves. We need you.