When I was a kid, I was good at stuff: I could run, throw, ski, bike, and climb, and I could sing every TV ad jingle. It never mattered though. I never once remember my parents marvelling at my speed or arboreal locomotion prowess. I admit that it's been a while and there is a possibility that I could misremember, but I think I would have remembered seeing either of my parents' glowing faces as I crossed a finish line. Instead, what I remember is,
Come on, it's time to leave for Quaker Meeting.
Ugh. This sentence, usually hollered up by my father early on Sunday morning would send my brain down into its file room to try come up with an excuse that would relieve me of my having to attend:
I can't come. I've suddenly gone blind.
My legs are both broken.
I have a Journey song stuck in my head.
Quakers, for those of you figuring that I am made of oatmeal, is a religion basically about not being a dick to each other. The premise is that there is the spirit of God in everyone, or the light as we call it. In consideration of this, Quaker Meeting has no minister. Everyone has a direct line so you can stand and gripe directly. Quakers are pacifists, and are accepting of other religions and races, because, light. The problem was that, for years, I was the only regularly attending kid in our meeting. One kid is not enough for Sunday school so I had to sit with the adults on the pews for the hour and listen to them drone on about Vietnam, El Salvador, or whatever the world had offered up for its violent, oppressive whim at the time. I found it to be excruciating. What exacerbated my frustration exponentially was the imbalanced focus at home. I could not understand why my father never went golfing or fishing like other people. He would come home from the city and help out in the barn or the fields, but he would talk to himself, mutter the whole time. I never saw him spend a whole day goofy and excited. We had an argument, he and I, one day. It was, I think, the only one. He was sotted, and sad about children of war somewhere and I had had enough. I wanted attention, you know, like a member of the family. So we yelled at each other for a few minutes, both standing at opposite ends of the house. It never took. I remember driving into town later that year, and seeing a man, by himself, with a placard, marching for El Salvador. It was my dad. I was horrified. I'm ashamed now to say that I was embarrassed.
Now I totally get it.
Now with the Trump administration I can hardly function. I fear for the planet and humanity. Time has taken on a surreal feeling, braced to some extent by the women's march. I was grateful to have been one of the 60,000 people marching in Toronto and more around the world. It helped. But my diligent attempt at a balanced life has tipped. Now I am reeling at steps taken in Washington. I feel fiercely moved to reach back and draw forth my Quaker roots, no matter what kind of anger, change and struggle they fed on during my life up to now. They are, I'm glad to say, still solid.
I am gut-dropped frustrated that in this age, 2017, some think it's okay to behave like a condescending dick towards others. Plus, the very idea of treating the planet as nothing more than an expendable way to make money, to me, heart-wrenching. Unforgivable. Astoundingly arrogant.
The comedian Bill Hicks said in regard to life,
It's just a ride.
This is as much a perspective for us as it is for the Trump administration. None of the hate and posturing is necessary. Why on earth are they compelled to make the ride so shitty? Why are they so blind, keeping their lights so dim? Why not make the planet a great place for everyone?
It could be so great!
I can't figure it out. I can hardly breathe. And I would give anything to go back, right now, and sit in meeting with my father again. I would do that in a heartbeat. No Journey songs. No excuses. Because I could use some kind of grounding to help figure out how to navigate this insanity right now and keep my own little flickering light burning.