I have been turning away from social media, and from the 24 hour news streams– not because I don’t care, but because I care too much. You bet racism is on my mind, politics, Covid-19 in all its grief and confusion, and the awful isolation from family and community- But you get that, I’m sure, and so I’m doing what I am able to make a positive difference close to home (“Yes, I can talk”, I say when the phones rings for the third time in an hour when I should be working, “I am here.” “Yes, I can walk with you.” ) Yes, yes, yes, you bet I have a minute for you, or an hour, or the rest of my life. What else is more important than the people I love?
Turns out I will have a unique opportunity in the next month and beyond to shine light on the importance of local government and the impacts all the small decisions have on the big stuff, and why it is important to be involved in your community. The Of Bears and Ballots virtual tour kicks off June 30 at 5 pm here in Haines, and continues with different events through July and into August and September even, and that may allow me to at least have some constructive influence on the response to the state of the world.
The other thing I keep leaning into, is something poet and writer Ross Gay observed in the beginning of The Book of Delights— and in a virtual event where I was able to hear him read and speak (and see the wise and wonderful man himself, sitting on a couch!) anyway, he said that spending a year looking for and writing about a moment each day that gave him delight, or joy, trained him to cultivate a “delight radar”, and here’s the really important part– that did not mean he wasn’t very aware, always of the many, many not so delightful things happening, or that racism, politics, his mother, his garden– weren’t on his mind, but rather because he had so much weighing on him that choosing to notice the moments that brought him to joy added a kind of balance, and hope to his life. (And he made this distinction: joy did not appear like a fairy godmother, rather that he could– and by extention you and me– bring himself to joy by paying attention to delightful moments.)
So, here are some of the moments in the past two weeks that brought me delight in spite of everything:
The flowers from a friend and a fire on the first day of summer,
The soft wet day when the wind quit and all the wild flowers bloomed,
A blustery day outside in the family “bubble,”
Trixie, binge watching the old hens and the busy new chicks like a TV show, for hours,
And a big mother bear and two baby bears on the beach last night in the 3 am dusk, eating grass outside the bedroom window. The dogs woke us, and we watched them for a long while, before falling back to sleep. In the morning this was all they left behind.
I read somewhere that we are part of a mystery we don’t understand. It’s that mystery, and my belief that it’s not the scary kind, but the delightful kind, that brings me to joy when I most need it, and least expect it– like a small pile of bear poop of all things. (And hey, no jokes about what this means about the new book…)