Archive | Country Matters

Breathe Life In

As we move through this first week of a new year and await the results of the pivotal senate races in Georgia and Trump’s last-ditch coup attempt, I’m reminded that even when change feels too slow—or nonexistent!—it’s unfolding as it should.

In fact, change is the only true constant, and what we’re doing is impactful even when we feel isolated, ill, ineffective—thoroughly thoroughly irritated. All we ever have to do is our best, and sometimes all our best entails is breathing in, breathing out. As my teacher, the wonderful beat writer Hettie Jones, used to say: “Are you breathing, are you lucky enough?”

Sometimes breathing is miracle enough.

I don’t think I’d be feeling so sanguine if I hadn’t stumbled upon this exchange after I posted yesterday. Sanguine is actually a terrible pun, for it’s from Only Lovers Left Alive, Jim Jarmusch’s wondrous 2014 meditation on science, art, and time masquerading as a vampire film, of all things. In it, Tilda Swinton counsels depressive spouse Tom Hiddleston, who’s considering offing himself after centuries of ennui:

How can you have lived for so long and still not get it? This self-obsession is a waste of living. It could be spent surviving things, appreciating nature, nurturing kindness and friendship, and dancing.

Oh, how this struck a chord. Even at at my lowest, I’m so grateful for so much. For Grace, friends, lovers, teachers, healers, clients. For all the ways you’ve seen and supported me over these hard times. For shelter, sea, sunshine, seasons, happy synchronicities, art–especially art that inspires this gratitude.

We’ll abide, we always do, and in the meantime it’s okay to surrender to this sad stillness. The best part of us knows beautiful change lives behind it. Just: breathe.

The true definition of inspire? To breathe life in.

The Hardest Time, Unmasked

This post is going to be very, very bald, even for me. Because this is the first Monday in January 2021 and o man does it feel hard. Almost but not quite unspeakably hard.

I was speaking to a dear friend–one of the last I’m still in good touch with (I said this post was going to be bald)–and we both said we are not really posting at this point because it feels like yelling into the void. More energy than we can spare given how drained and disconnected we feel. Then I remembered that often I can’t even feel my feelings until I write them down and press send, and so–selfishly, desperately–thought I’d share them here.

I want to pretend my back is all the way healed because this drama has gone on for two months already. But the truth is I am still in pain every day. The suffering has abated, yes, but what remains moves all around my body since the underlying issue is not local but global. I still can’t sit for any length of time without pain, can’t drive my stick-shift car, can’t walk more than a mile or two, can’t lift my laundry or groceries. Definitely can’t read for others or write or Zoom for any length of time. So I am not independent financially or physically, and freedom was all I still had until recently.

I know the problem is as much about general despair as it is about any physical dysfunction and that makes it worse because I don’t know how to fix that–not in myself, anyway. I have teachers and healers and supporters (not to mention a great reserve of self-pity). But none of it helps the fact that, on Month 1,000,000,000 of Pandemic and A Truly Next-Level Fascist Regime, I am awash in my childhood sense that there are no true grownups in charge and no forest for the trees.

I’d be lying if I said this was just the state of the union. I am turning 50 two weeks from tomorrow and can’t stave off the absolute worst feeling in the world: That I have not merited the time I’ve taken here. That I’ve not offered enough back to the world and do not have the real estate, relationships, professional achievements to merit my consumption. During this year so many friendships have fallen by the wayside because none of us have had the bandwidth for our own shit let alone anyone else’s. I also have cycled through many old loves that ended the first time around for good reason–not to mention a new one that should never have started. The last affair–the oldest one, the origin story of all my failed and fucked-up romances–ended over Christmas week with a whimper rather than a bang on any level.

All this failed love has only better acquainted me with an existential loneliness that drove me into the wrong arms in the first place. Behold the sorrow I’ve carried my whole life. A solitude that has become acute, positively shrieking its its silence, over this very very lonely year and even lonelier holiday season.

Here at the beginning of a new calendar year and only two weeks from a new decade in life, I do not see the future as an open horizon so much as a frightening abyss. It’s the worst feeling–nothing to dress up or for. I am scared, I am lost, and–the only gift–I am still here. On this Monday in what I pray is the last month in the worst chapter of America’s history as well as my own, I am not asking this rhetorically: Is there still a happy what-next?

I send hugs. More than that–who am I kidding?–I need hugs. But only from people I both love and like.

Everyone’s a Superstar to Orbit

As you know, I don’t put much stock in the changing of the calendar year. But I do put stock in what you put stock in—much like the transformative power a beloved object holds after years of us cradling it. So I can feel your resignation and disappointment seeping away tonight—the hope you are harboring however cautiously—and I love it. More than that, I love you. To that end, I offer only one piece of advice for this upcoming year: Do what your heart tells you. Not your brain, not your pelvis, not your ego, not your fear, not your past, not anyone around you. If there is one thing 2020 taught us: there is no institution more powerful than love. Trust this energetic field. More than that: Embody it.

So may we inhabit our bodies respectfully and joyfully in 2021. May we eschew punishing exercise and diet and clothing in favor of whatever helps us relish our bodies even more. And may we be more lovingly present with each other—more sensual, even when we’re not sexual—when we once again can play, dance, dress, dine, hug, smooch, fuck freely. Physical freedom is a gift. When we regain it, let us treasure it accordingly.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy