Lessons I Teach Myself
A wish upon a night:
To laugh uncontrollably,
Until the side of my ribs hurt.
To fly like a bird,
And let the wind carry me forward.
To be in a different world,
Or at a different time,
Where fairies and angels
Aren't afraid to show up.
To love so loud,
That the earth would shake with every note.
And dream of sheep,
Who dream of their Shepard.
To be my own Shepard,
And to lead my own way
Among the herd.
As the great William said.
To be some body.
To be some thing.
To be nothing.
To be no thing.
A wish, a prayer, a sight,
Upon a wondrous night.
Like many of you, over the past few weeks I have been reading, protesting, listening, watching, learning, and observing. I have cried, yelled at the TV, wrote my heart out here in this blog, recognized my own privileges, and I have taken on intense discussions with people who have different perspectives than me. I even had to block a couple of trolls on Facebook, and lived to tell all about that in a previous blog post.
There is a lot to LEARN and a lot to DO to heal from the deep underlining hate, racism, and division in this country. And frankly, in the world.
On a personal level, my own identity of an immigrant, of an Israeli, of a Jew, of a woman, is much more felt by me NOW, at a divided time like this, than ever before. In the culture I was raised in, I have grown up hearing countless stories of persecution and oppression, a theme that runs deep in my ancestry, but I was also exposed to many voices who were justifying the use of oppression for the sake of security.
These two contradicting states - the oppressed and the oppressor, the powerless and the powerful, the builder and the destroyer... are in every one of us. We must be better at building a bridge in between these two states. Within ourselves, and than out in the world with others.
A bridge that will be stronger than the divide.
It's no easy task, but it's possible.
*Art By Eric Klein
There has been a downward spiral in the U.S. (says me! Go write your own blog if you disagree) since the 2016 election. The vote for Trump (let's not get carried away though, he didn't win the popular vote), came as a shock to me, and to many others in my bubble.
On the day of the presidential election, I wore my 'The Future Is Female' t-shirt, and walked the streets of my neighborhood in an elevated state, thinking that 'history was going to be made that day.' I remember smiling to other women in the street. We passed by each other, signaling to each other: 'Hi sister. Today we are going to elect a FEMALE president!' We were ecstatic. We were overjoyed. We were sadly, wrong.
I walked into my favorite feminist store that day. I wasn't looking to buy anything, really. But rather to show my presence. Show my appreciation. I needed to feel the presence of my sisters, my girlfriends, the glorious women there, and everywhere. I took a selfie early that day, and I took one late that night, when the horror came down on me like a BOMB. A truth bomb. A truth I didn't knew that existed, a truth that shattered my feminist dreams that night. The truth that a large amount of people would accept a sexist, racist, accused rapist, corrupt bully, as the leader of the 'free' world.
I remember sitting in a Los Feliz bar, watching as the Trump clan walked on stage. They didn't sport any tears like I did, but they were as surprised as I was, to be on that stage. It was a delirious moment to us all, it seemed.
The vote for Donald J. Trump was an insult to women. Was an insult to minorities. Was an insult to the LGBTQ+ community. Was an insult to immigrants. Was an insult to environmentalists. Was an insult to any civil rights protester, justice seeker, idealist that thought we were on a trajectory of progress, and not a decline.
Over the past three and a half years the insults continued, but my shock has disappeared.
I have learned to shake them off, roll my eyes, yell at the TV. I've learned to anticipate the worst.
Have I normalized the incoming insults? HELL NO.
But I learned to put my 'defensive mode' as a woman, as an immigrant, as a jew, on MUTE. And I learned to listen, to pay attention, to brew so I can be ready and primed and focused for the aftermath.
And the aftermath is close. It's coming. It's right around the corner. The recent protests for Black Liver Matter and the general global solidarity with the movement towards justice and equality, have given me hope.
ARE more people changing their view about the bully in the white house? Or is the pendulum just turning back and forth every number of years? I haven't followed politics long enough to have a clear answer. And if I learned something from Israeli politics - idealism is a lonely loser most of the time, and the bully often takes over. And we all know how hard it is to face a bully. In Israel the pendulum hasn't turned in quite some time. In fact, their bully has multiplied time and time again...which is discouraging to say the least.
But I have some hope for the U.S to grow the fuck up. To face the bully. To vote. To show up. To strive
to be better. To be an actual leader of the free world for a change.
Come on America, we are rooting for you.
*My hope is small, like a seed. But it has the potential to be mighty, to sprout, to blossom and to feed. May we all plant our seeds of hope for a better society, for a better white house, for a better world.
I've heard about you a ton.
But I am not sure if you and I have ever met. Have we?
If we did, it must have been when I was little.
Like, BABY little. Before I was molded into being the 'person' I am today.
Before I was conditioned, educated and indoctrinated.
Before I grew up to have - what we ironically call - a 'mind of my own.'
Freedom, dear, I have yearned for you for years.
As a vague poetic sentiment. As an unachievable dream. As an abstract concept.
And no matter how much I'll feel your presence, I also always feel your absence.
I hear people talk about you, preach about you, protest for you. They blurt out your name with so much confidence! As if you are an old friend they deeply know. As if you are an idea everyone would agree on.
But no one has ever described well to me exactly WHAT you are?
According to good ole' google, you are:
1: The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.
2: Absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government.
3. The state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.
4. The state of being physically unrestricted and able to move easily.
5. The state of not being subject to or affected by a particular undesirable thing.
6. The power of self-determination attributed to the will; the quality of being independent of fate or necessity.
7. Unrestricted use of something.
From these descriptions, I am getting the feeling that you, dear freedom, are a very fleeting state.
One that comes and goes. Probably shows up too fast for anyone to notice and truly appreciate,
and mostly felt when you are taken away.
You, freedom, as other vague notions like you, are most felt in your absence.
The physical notion of you, is a little bit easier for me to grasp. But what about your more... subtle formation? In...say...the 'freedom of thought?' Let's zoom in on that for a second, shall we, freedom?
So, thoughts. Considering our thoughts are a mish-mash of; memories that are mostly imagined and not likely to be most accurate; biases that connect a pattern of thought that seems logical to us; random blurbs that mostly try to frighten us into submission; ego driven judgments and criticism that only help to separate us from others; other random comments on life; and here and there some rare, but brilliant, ideas.
Knowing all that, and that we are constantly lead to thoughts by the environment around us, in the sneakiest ways possible, (Hey, the advertisement industry is based on that principle, and don't even get me started on politics. ouch), knowing all that.... shouldn't 'freedom of thought' be in the absence of thought all together? ?
I honestly have no idea why I am asking YOU that, freedom.
You are doing your thing: being free somewhere, teasing us humans with your existence.
Hey, as you know, you are FREE to do what you will.
And I'll hang out nearby, wondering what you REALLY are: If you do indeed exist, or rather you are just another story us humans have created while playing the game of life.
If you do exist, in all your glory, way beyond those google descriptions, SHOW UP will you?
What is change?
Where does it come from? And why?
How do we nurture our adaptability for change?
Why do us humans resist change with every particle of our body?
If change is constant and always occurring, is anything NOT change?
Is STABILITY the opposite of change? Or is it STAGNATION?
Why, as we age, we seem to have a harder time dealing with change?
And why, for others, changing is as natural as the changing tides?
Why do we randomly call a handful of coins 'change?'
Why do I wonder all this? And where do I fit in in the wide spectrum of change?
Today, I only have questions.
I got no answers yet, and I probably never will.
Today the world,
Seemed prettier from the inside of my home.
Seemed quieter from the pages of my book.
Seemed caring from the taste of my homemade lunch.
Today the world,
Smiled at me for a moment.
Reminded me of its beauty.
And its tolerance.
And its peace.
Today the world,
Laughed with me at a moment of silliness.
Cuddled with me when I was lazy in bed.
Danced with me to a song I love.
Today the world showed me its beauty.
And then I went outside, and met its ugliness.
There are people among us, walking among us in the streets, driving past us on the highway, standing in the next line to us at the store, who are heroes.
No, they aren't wearing capes or waving wands. They aren't featured in comic books or in the pages of a magazine. They don't have 'followers' on their Insta page. Some of them don't even have a page at all, let alone any followers. They look like everyone else, anyone else. Average, ordinary, 'invisible' people. They may not stand out in a room, or be the types to dominate conversations. They may be perfectly okay being a bit hidden from public view. They may not feel special at all, or would ever consider themselves heroic. But they're heroes because of the hardship they have endured, or still endure. The suffering they meet every day and yet still show up to walk the streets, drive the highways, stand in lines at stores. Don't get me wrong - They're heroes not just because they've been through stuff. Hey - we all go through stuff and I wouldn't say we are ALL heroic beings... They're heroes because every day, they surpass the notion that their suffering is anything special. They know deeply, that they are not. They help others, in their community, be it in their family of two, or in their town of ten thousand, they display empathy for their fellow humans because they know they're ones of the same. They see themselves in the other, and the other in themselves.
Too many among us walk with their heads high, with a sense of entitlement, of importance, of 'specialness.'
Our "free" modern world and the religion of individualism, and the importance of self-esteem, has brought along with it, a more-than-healthy dose of narcissism and entitlement. We often praise those types, highlight them, think they're special. We makes them our 'idols', our 'heroes', our, ahem, 'presidents.'
But what do we gain from making them our heroes?
And more importantly, what is lost when we overlook the unsung heroes among us?
This song has been background music to my life since I was a teen. (And yes.. I know I'm not the only one who could probably say that.)
Lately, this little piece of heaven by The Scorpions, has been echoing in my head louder and louder.
With more clarity. With more attention to the lyrics than ever before.
Perhaps it's the changing tides in the socio-political state in the United States; Perhaps it's Covid-19 that has brought along so much change with it; Perhaps it's because it's been quite literally windy here in Venice Beach in my first ever 'June Gloom' as a Venetian; Perhaps it's my own personal winds of change knocking me off my feet, challenging my balance, pushing against my fragility; Or perhaps it's just a damn good song and it simply wants to be heard right now.
Whatever it may be...I'm grateful.
Grateful for the music, the powerful music video accompanying it, and the reminder that we have all been here before. Nothing is new under the sun, and change is always occurring. The world will come through. Things will settle. The wind will calm down and rest.
That is...until the next revolution.
My newfound hobby of engaging on facebook, much more than I used to, and probably much more than I 'should.' (but hey, desperate times...) has reached a new level today.
While I was peacefully (yes, peacefully and even kindly!) commenting on a video post of a friend, one that proposed some of the same conspiracies in regards to the Corona Virus Pandemic that have been circling for a while, I have encountered a top level TROLL.
And by 'top level' I mean he has brought up outlandish claims about the 'Deep State', that I am a 'sheep', a 'Hollywood elitist' and so on.... he even mentioned I should say 'hey' to my 'fellow pedophiles' (Yup. For real. Where's the disgusted Emoji when ya need it!?)
Obviously, I saw that as outrageous and disgusting, and it was probably meant to rile me up and get me to engage... so now, as I process the avalanche of name-calling from this conspiracy minded person I have never actually met, DO I engage?
Or do I leave the troll alone and go along with my day and do something more beneficial with my time? (Like, writing this daily blog, for instance.)
Do I, as my friend put it, 'troll the troll' so he can get 'owned' and I can have a little mark of victory and keep my chin up for a minute, or do I let his last hateful comment stay up on the wild web, vacant of a response, for everyone to see and make their own conclusions?
How bad do I really want to cave into the temptation of my ego, the one that makes me want to WIN this debate and be RIGHT, even though I know full well there is no potential for real winning when the person is completely convinced at his outlandish claims?
I think of slogans like 'haters gonna hate' and 'don't feed the trolls' and 'when they go low, we go high' and I wonder: If we resign, and not look at the other as one with a potential to change, are we unknowingly contributing to the problem of ignorance and division?
Or, if there is a tiny possibility that engagement can lead to some change (for both participants), shouldn't we give the maximum of our ability to debate, to inspire thought, to turn the hater into a lover?
Or perhaps we may want to put our time on affecting change in different ways - ways that are within our boundaries of safety than engaging in a public debate with, for lack of better words, A TROLL?
I was contemplating all that, and decided NOT to engage with that toxic troll today.
Not engaging IS a form of engagement.
Saying 'Nah, I'm not gonna do that' has a message of its own.
And it's loud . And it's clear.
Hope he gets the message. And if not... he'll probably go find another 'sheep 'to feed him.
The next book I want to read has to hook me.
It has to be the kind of book that I simply can't put down, for hours. A binge-worthy read.
An epic book that I can't stop telling people about afterwords.
The kind of book that I go on and on and on, yapping about its greatness.
You know, a book that makes you start a book club so you can discuss it with others and have an excuse to read it all over again. Or maybe it would be the kind of book that I wouldn't be able to re-read because reading it would take me on such a ride, filled with suspenseful plot and deep emotional journey, that I wouldn't want the second read to spoil the awesomeness of the first.
The next book I want to read has to have the kind of flare or melody that makes me think differently. Language that challenges me. Rhythm that requires me to follow its own beat and shut off my own.
A book that makes my critical mind SHUT THE F UP. A book that as I read, I would see every single moment in it, and my imagination would go wild with imagery, and senses.
The next book I want to read has to make me want to eat it. bite it. chew it. devour it.
And it wouldn't taste like paper, no. It would taste like GOURMET paper.
Paper from the tallest most royal lush tree. From Costa Rica, or some other glorious spot.
The kind of paper you'd use for a fancy resume with a glossy finish, for a job you really really REALLY want.
The next book I want to read, has to inspire me.
Inspire me to write, inspire me to read, inspire me to live..... books can do that.
Books have the potential to be life changing.
And the next book I want to read has to change me in some way.
It has, and so... it will.
Tamar Pelzig pledged to write something every day, even if it's only a word, so she welcomed to the world a daily blog that may, or may not be, of any significance to anyone other than herself. If you found her lil' life lessons, stories, poems and blurbs meaningful to you, well that's f**ing amazing! Comment and share so she can pat herself in the back - she doesn't do that nearly enough. Cheers.