Ruthless. Pitiless, merciless, unforgiving.
That’s what this last week has been. Did you know that? Were you paying attention?
On June 4th, Fuego, a Guatemalan volcano erupted, sending pyroclastic flows down into the villages underneath. Last death tolls were over 100. Almost 200 people still missing. My husband, Eden, and all his extended family are from this beautiful country. Anytime I am made aware of such an event, anywhere in the world, I feel punched in the gut. But more so now, considering in summer of 2020, we will be relocating to Antigua, Guatemala, only about an hour away from the volcano. It really stopped me in my tracks. I am so sorry, beautiful strangers, I am so sorry. I wish you had ran soon enough or fast enough. I love you.
While taking this information in, I was made aware of another event. One of the head chefs at the Oregon Culinary Institute, Daniel Brophy, was shot inside one of the kitchens at the school last Saturday morning and died on the scene. He was a good man, active in the community. My oldest child will be attending this school in fall of 2019. We just toured this culinary school. We were told all about him. How….why? I don’t understand…..
We are leaving her in Portland, in the hands of this school, this community, while we leave the country, chasing our wanderlust, our dream, our path, of going to Antigua, Guatemala, land of currently exploding volcanoes, to start a new chapter. Do you understand how these two incidences have stopped me in my tracks? Do you understand this level of mind fuck? Of uncertainty?
But that isn’t all. Have you been paying attention?? Did you see that the big Island of Hawaii is being swallowed by Kilauea? Did you know a whale died off the coast of Thailand because it has swallowed 17 pounds of plastic bags? Human fucking waste. It had no choice.
Did you know that the United States is being ran by a ruthless, hateful, twisted, womanizing, inexperienced, piece of shit? A cheap celebrity with a bad fake tan? Did you know he hates people of color, and is enforcing acts of terrorism against desperate immigrant families? Did you know that when families cross the border from Central American, the children are immediately ripped away, and put in prison like conditions? Did you KNOW?
Did you know the UN is calling for a halt on this terrorism? Can you imagine your screaming 2 year old being ripped from your arms and put in a cold prison like setting, after you spent weeks or months crossing deserts to get here, to ask for help? I am SO ANGRY. The United States is a terrorist.
My husband came to this country, barely 5 years old, with his mother, illegally, to escape Guatemala’s civil war. And they deserve to be here. They deserved to find safety.
Did you know, that in 2018 alone, there has been, on average, 1 school related shooting per week?
I send my 2 kids to public school every day, with only partial confidence they will return that day. There are no fucking keys on this keyboard to convey the moaning sound of my grief and pain. I don’t have to be “personally affected.” I am a human, a woman, a mother, and this ALL personally affects me. As it should you. I still cry about the event in Newtown, Connecticut from 12/14/2012. I still can’t stomach that this is where our society has gone. How do we fail this tragically?
Toxic masculinity and the #metoo movement? I don’t even want to focus this post on that whole subject, because it is a story all its own, the story of women for too long on this earth, and it touches every one of us. From the oppression of women in the developing world, being forced into menstruation huts, to female genital mutilation, fighting for abortion rights, domestic violence, to women simply not being paid equal to men….yet we bear the burden of bringing life onto this world. How can any woman feel 100% comfortable with their life? Or safe? How can we keep our families safe if we aren’t safe?? 2 years ago I was confronted my a young man on an isolated walking trail, cornered, asked for sex, just seconds away from being assaulted, forcefully silenced, raped….. the stories go on and on.
My younger sister has been sick the past couple of weeks with a resurgence of the autoimmune disease Graves disease. It causes the immune system to attack the thyroid gland, in turn, greatly affecting the heart rate. It has the potential to become deadly. I feel helpless to help her. All I can do is listen and be there, knowing she will make the best decisions she can. Trying to trust the universe. I am here, I am here.
Then, I woke up this morning, 6/8/18, to learn that one of the few celebrities that I look up to, Anthony Bourdain, had committed suicide while filming his show that I love so, Parts Unknown, in France. I didnt know this man. But I felt like I did. And it was just another tragic event, in a long chain of heartbreak, that has pushed me far, and I am SO SAD. So broken open.
He was a spokesperson for me, for my tribe. He was the king of wanderlusters, and, fuck, we needed him. He made travel desirable, beautiful, poetic, attainable. Elegant. And those of us who need it, we know it is. But we are made to feel “unsettled” if travel is all we desire. If perhaps, our roots lay all over this earth. People say we are running from something, when we know all so well, we are running TOWARDS life and experience. We are running towards raw truth. That is why Central America is calling to me, and why I will go. No matter what. Because, life is waiting.
He was as if Hemingway, Hunter S. Thompson, and Jack Kerouac had made a love child, and he saved me from boredom so many times. He helped me unwind from the emotionally taxing world of social work. He taught me about Iran and Vietnam, Russia, and the Appalachian mountains in new ways that all us starry eyed wanderlusters needed. He showed me over and over the power of food, and breaking bread together. He taught the world that the art of preparing food, and working in a hot kitchen in a restaurant, could be poetic and desirable.
“According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released on June 7, suicide rates have increased significantly across the US. Between 1999 and 2016, suicide rates rose in nearly every state in the union, with 25 states showing increases of more than 30 percent?”
Why? We ask ourselves. Well. I am no expert, but did you read everything above? This world is broken in so many ways. We are to endure horrific events, information, and images, and just keep going with smiles, pretending as though we didn’t see it. We don’t know how to feed our bodies. We are supposed to work ourselves to the bones, only seeing our families here and there, to try to make ends meet. Self care is expensive. We live in an isolated society. We use drugs and alcohol to numb until hollow. We have to work under people who exploit us, and abuse us. We endure generations of familial abuse, and we are to sweep it under the rug. We aren’t supposed to talk about these things. Did you know I was sexually abused? Neglected? Beaten? Went hungry often? Put in foster care? Abused by my male partners as an adult? And I am going to talk about it. LOUD. Because I demand a space to hold this pain. You listen to me, and I will hold you.
This time has been ruthless. I search my heart, why? Why all of this at once? Why is this so difficult? Am I the only one who cant take all of this and keep smiling??
And these things listed are nothing compared to all the horrors that people all over this world endure every. single.day. These are just a few from the past couple of weeks! How do we keep moving forward? Do we lean on the Buddhist concept of detachment? Is this the only way to survive?
Jon Kabat Zinn has said “To let go means to give up coercing, resisting, or struggling, in exchange for something more powerful and wholesome which comes out of allowing things to be as they are without getting caught up in your attraction to or rejection of them, in the intrinsic stickiness of wanting, of liking and disliking.”
But is this what we have to do? Just let go, and watch? We just stand by, actors on this stage of this universal tragedy/comedy that never ends?
As a Yogini and Buddhist leaning person, I know very well that Karma, the universal law of all that is, gives no fucks about how you or I feel about anything. It washes over whatever is in its path, simply following the flow of stimulus and response. Yet, we are taught in these philosophies to live in the space between stimulus and response. In the silence. Detached to outcome. But where does compassion come into this? Because it has to, right? We have to care. Where is the fine line, the balance of embodying total compassion, and a healthy detachment? Because guess what? This ALL ENDS. You. me. Your beautiful children. We all have an expiration date. And that is gut wrenching to ponder. But we have to care, and love without abandon. Where is the middle ground?
So, we live in the gorgeous Pacific Northwest. Let this be our teacher. We love this land. Those of us who get it, who run to the National forest Friday night after work, and have a hard time being pulled out on Sundays, reintroduced back to human society. Those of us who know the names and uses of the plants. It is so magnificent, and largely due to the fact that it is young earth surrounded by the Cascade volcanic peaks; land that is truly still forming. Those beautiful snow covered mountain peaks are active volcanoes. They are monitored closely by the USGS, and they will all blow. More than once. They will fulfill their duty, and continue making new earth. They will give no fucks, and bury all of us in their pyroclastic flows. And you know what yogis? Our pranayama ain’t gonna save us from it. No amount of yoga will save hurricane or earthquake victims. Victims caught in the middle of a war zone. It just is. Sure, take the deep breaths, our breath is always with us, it will slow your heart rate and stress responses to an extent. But if you are running from a volcano blast? Or even, a metaphorical one…..
So, love. Love hard. Live. Fearlessly. Or try. Walk the line of simultaneously caring about it all, and being totally ok with letting it all be what it is. This is my work. It has been all week. If you care enough to read this, chances are, it has been your work too.
We have to look each other in the eyes. Listen. Care. Lift each other up. I think, maybe, we have to keep finding the beauty, the right, the love, the sparkle, in everything. Let us wail together in grief. I don’t have answers. But I know I need some good news right now.