I got up early, watched the sunrise with coffee and permakitten, drove over to Queens in Minerva, my trusty blue hatchback, and took a long hike through Forest Park, listening to the birds and squirrels and wind and leaves, meditating by the pond as the whippoorwills and a potbellied homo sapien practiced their scales. On the way home I stopped off at Trader Joe’s to fetch things I’ll want to eat on the Thursday formerly known to me as Thanksgiving, and joked with cashiers whom I’ve come to know and adore. It was a simple morning, but so meaningful and joyful because it was entirely on my terms.
Only very very recently could a woman could live by herself, drive a car she bought herself with money kept in a bank account with only her name on it. Even more miraculous: I finance my existence with work I feel called to do that once upon a time would’ve got me burned at the stake.
Given our country’s history of genocide and colonization–and given my complicated personal relationship to the Thanksgiving holiday–I’ve come to treat the last Thursday of November as a quiet and solitary day of reflection. I go for a long city walk, I say hi to the river, I slow-roast local vegetables, I pay my respects to this land that has seen so much harm since Europeans’ arrival. And then I watch really raggedy, emotionally complicated films like Lumet’s The Morning After, in which Jane Fonda plays a drunken former actress framed for murder on Thanksgiving Weekend.
It’s been a year since I injured my back so badly I was immobilized; two years since I was so broke I was afraid I would lose my home. Now, through the support of friends, healers, and my own adjustments, I can stand on my two feet again. I’m profoundly grateful I can freely move through this world’s extraordinary-ordinariness on my own terms. There is always so much beauty and love to be honored
Every day of the week, I’m so grateful to be grateful.
My whole life changed with 9/11. Partly because the worst elements of the US ran with it as carte-blanche for all kinds of evil. Partly because my beloved city was never the same. Partly because the sister of the man I loved had just started a job at WTC and her brutal death ended everything I thought I knew.
I still think about the last day I saw her. She had just turned 30 and found her first gray hair. With her usual wit she’d taped it on our bathroom mirror with a note penned in her gorgeous calligraphy: NOW I AM OLD.
The day I turned 50 I thought about that sign, about how she was so young when she died that she thought 30 was old, and I cried about her yet again. Because the world was better with her in it. She was optimistic and cocky and engaged and blisteringly sharp. The exact energy we lost as a city and a people when the towers fell.
I’m writing all this today because I can’t do social media on 9/11 itself. The grandstanding feels hypocritical and painful and deeply hollow. 9/11 was when America realized its soil wasn’t safe from the destruction it sowed around the world.* And no one likes to talk about that.
*Some already knew through bitter experience.
In all my readings this week, I have been asked: How can I manifest positive change? It’s a beautifully September question, and it reminds me that sometimes the importance of shadow work is overlooked in manifestation practices.
To will something into being, we don’t have to tackle our shadows—our toxicity and trauma. Through affirmations, visualization, and white knuckles, we can summon nearly anything–marriages, money, even fame. But without self-reckoning, we project our shadows into whatever we manifest, ensuring we’ll encounter more problematic versions of them down the road.