I went to see someone perform in a play over weekend (Side note: The Game’s Afoot! is a fun show). It was held in a large room in a church, and there were tables with seating, as opposed to seeing the show in a theatre with seats facing forward. This gave the experience a lovely community feel.
During intermission, there was a raffle, but before one of the theatre leaders chose a person to draw out a winning ticket, he said,
“Does anyone here have a celebration?”
I expected people to mention birthdays, anniversaries, or news of new opportunities.
But one of the women seated at my same table said, “Friendship!” and held up her friend’s hand. Everyone applauded.
I love that she just spontaneously decided to celebrate their friendship — a mundane but very significant celebration. Makes me want to pay attention to these things too.
Yes to daily, mundane, yet highly significant celebrations.
Many years ago, I worked in a context where everyone worked with their office doors closed. There may be many reasons for this — needing quiet, having a place to focus, or other kinds of needs entirely. That context was filled with lovely, supportive people, but this happened to be a very stressful period of time in our collective history. Some part of me wonders if we all kept our doors closed because stress pheromones were constantly floating through the air in that space.
Anxiety can function like a contagion. We can pick up on the anxious energy of others through body language and yes, even pheromones. We may also be anxious about similar concerns, and someone’s anxiety may evoke our own. That same anxiety in a person or community may also trigger older, stressful storylines from our lives. The anxiety can grow.
Sometimes, we need space alone or in small groups of non-anxious (at the moment) people so we can ground ourselves again and regulate or co-regulate our nervous systems.
In a remarkably anxious period of time, it is okay and helpful to take that space, both for ourselves and for the collective circles of people we love.
Trauma distorts a sense of time. This is true with personal trauma and collective trauma alike. As a more benign example, in the midst of the pandemic, how many of us have had trouble scaling an accurate sense of time? Experiences long-ago feel like they just happened, and experiences near in time can feel distant. I feel this sensation all the time, and I hear it from others too.
More challenging though, when we’re experiencing trauma on a deeper level in our bodies, we have moments in which the painful past feels re-lived and re-experienced in the present. On top of this, we likely project anxieties onto our imagined future too. These begin to feel real and present also. Past difficulties and future difficulties are converging inside us. Time is crashing within. This can feel very physical as it plays out in our bodies, and we may respond with fight, flight, freeze, or fawn reflexes.
But what if we could also hack this process a bit, reversing it and distorting time purposefully in our favor?
… we choose to recall the most supportive and affirming people, experiences, and chapters of our lives, remembering them and meditating on them in ways that allow us to feel their presence in our bodies? What if we make these present, and it impacts our physical sensations too?
… we choose to imagine a supportive and affirming future with beloved people, experiences, and next chapters at peace, with things likely working out (or with some bumps and resilience, turning out okay enough) and we encounter a future vision that energizes us in our bodies? What if we make these present, and it impacts our physical sensations too?
In this process, an affirming past and supportive future can also converge in the present, but now, we’re hacking this distortion intentionally.
My dear friend, Marshall Dicks, died this morning after a journey with cancer. He had lived with cancer for a number years, but he had a significant decline over the last two months.
￼Marshall added much to my life, and I will miss him. We had deeply reflectve and meaningful conversations about life. Said slightly differently, we had remarkable conversations about the meaning of life, including what we want our lives to mean.
I want Marshall’s life to mean love, and simply put, I know it does. In great love, he treasured his children, his brother, his wider family, and his friends who were nothing less than family. My heart is with each of them today. He adored choral music and was a gifted conductor. He had a sharp mind and was a life long learner. He loved it all, and we all loved him.
I cannot underestimate the impact that his life and presence had upon the Michigan Nones and Dones Community as he gathered with us for years on Saturdays. It was an honor for us to accompany him on his cancer journey and as life took a number of turns. Nearly all of us were able to be present with him before he died, and on Tuesday, our community members surrounded him as a group. We might also say as a chosen family. “He was a Brother to me,” multiple people have said.
Rest well, Beloved Brother and Friend.
It’s all love now.
That’s what we feel, even in the heartache.
And on the other side, whatever that is like, I hope that love’s abundance is precisely what you know.
I had the best soup for dinner last night. Like. Wow.
It was a tortellini soup, made by one of my favorite people. First of all, I don’t think I’ve ever had tortellini soup, so that was fun, but also, this was one of the best meals I’ve had in a good while.
And on top of that, something simple meant a lot to me too. As soon as I walked in the door, she said, “I know you like your food really hot, so I’ve kept it hot on the stove.” She would have kept it on the burner until I arrived anyway, but she had also been intentional about this little detail, just because she knows me. It feels good to be known.
One of the greatest gifts we can give each other — in large things and in small things — is particularity of care. Care that knows each other. Care that notices each other. Care that loves each other specifically.
I was recently listening to a Mumford & Sons’ song when one of their lyrics really caught my attention:
“… before I tumble homeward, homeward.”
I thought that was intriguing phrasing. It made me reflect on the times when I suddenly found myself in a homeward direction, perhaps when I wasn’t even expecting it. There are also times when I found myself feeling a sense of home, even though its process and arrival of getting there was messy.
Thank goodness these moments can happen.
I have had moments of return — to place, to family, to communities, to memory, to states of mind — that were sudden. I have had estrangements suddenly end. I have had reconnections with community open wide after this was previously closed. I have had moments when I realized I could reconnect with the feeling of a loved one’s presence after they died.
I have also had moments of tumbling home to uncharted places. I have moved across the country three times to live in four different states. I have weathered a pandemic from inside my house. I have been accompanied by friends and loved ones through daily living. I have come to feel at home in my body.