What do you need of me?
This writing feels like it answers what the fire wants, what life wants. Exactly this. And the health care board position sounds like a truly great thing to be involved in. And Nick Cave just . . .
I happen to know the person who founded the low-barrier homeless shelter in Kalispell fairly well. She worked for years to get that place running. It’s infuriating and heartbreaking to see our barely-elected-by-anyone county leaders go after the minimal, threadbare services people in this county pull together to support people suffering from a culture and economic system designed to ground everyone down to their atoms.
Sorry. I’m really pissed off about this. About everything.
Today there was an editorial from several local non-profits in response to the commissioners, and last week one from the paper itself, not always expected in a county with such a right-wing reputation: https://dailyinterlake.com/news/2023/jan/22/officials-should-follow-compassion-rather-stigmati/
Another newsletter that manages to allow me to feel all my anger and all my hope — Chris, I am so grateful for it. And also: yes, the subscription numbers are all wonky because of the "gift" subscriptions (happy to talk more about this and any other boring Substack dynamics at any time, you know where to find me) but what matters is the number of people who find your voice essential and worth everything.
The actual words of MLK are very subversive, for any time. People often think of him as conciliatory because he championed for them not to become “the evil they detested,” not to hate or not to allow it to be the fuel of the revolution,the turn of the wheel towards something different. He knew that a hate filled heart for revolution was still a hate filled heart. His words were/are subversive because he very eloquently calls things out and does so politely and concisely. I imagine people don’t really read his words for if they did they would know he was calling us to do so much better as a species, and to do so out of love and utter connection. A truly vulnerable and powerful place. I think this is what the fire coaxes from us.
Thank you Chris.
Better days ahead.
And probably tough ones too.
But also, birds.
I don't need anything but I want you to continue what you are doing, full stop! You have put into writing thoughts that rattle around in my brain and the words that escape me. You combine the light and darkness, and I'm so thankful for your newsletter. I have a complicated relationship with where I live, the beauty astounds me and I'm happy when I'm out in the hills but brutally disappointed by the indifference of my community. Your musings keep focused on trying to find ways to swim upstream and make a tiny difference . Please keep going, you are making a difference.
I’m having a tough time, too, not succumbing to rage. This week a few friends and I are hitting the wall in trying to take care of a friend who is on dialysis and has multiple myeloma. He’s got a PhD, was faculty at an underfunded state college and his retirement sucks, brilliant of course, independent, an astronomer and hiker and lover of the outdoors, anywhere, and he is unable to keep track of time or his meals. He’s single, still driving (shouldn’t be), he gets PT for a time but it quits if he doesn’t get better, the home health people haven’t shown up to clean his house and do his laundry, he has no family here, he lives alone in an old small house. Assisted living facilities don’t include transportation three times a week to dialysis. He doesn’t want to quit driving, leave his house, have anyone move his piles of stuff. He ended up in the ER for 5 hrs the other night. I am just so angry that there is no safety net and feel so inadequate because I can’t step up enough to help him stay in his home. He will spend all his assets dying.
At times like these, it is necessary to talks about trees, and doves, and rage and joy.
Thank you, Chris.
I like reading messes; it encourages me to maybe post some words of my own without bothering to polish them up. At this point I don't know what else to do but make more music and put more words together. The challenge is putting them out in the world. Thanks for doing that! For now, a messy comment:
I wonder if rage can be harnessed without bringing hatred along with it. I know I am angry as can be at the culture (and family--they are neither separate nor the same but I cannot always tell the difference) that birthed me and taught me a bunch of crap I no longer believe about the universe, to ultimately tell me that I was worthless because I am too queer and too unproductive and too radical and no longer share the white Christian desire to dominate all others: other than white or at least anglocentric, other than straight, other than capitalist.. you know the long, long list.
I know there are moderate to liberal Christians out there. Some of my best friends are Christian. Seriously! :)
But if they cannot understand that the history of European and American Christianity is as violent as our homegrown Christofascists are now, and that reckoning must include acknowledging that history and, to whatever extent is possible, making amends for it, we don't remain friends for long.
And I understand how violent white families are to their children and how difficult it is to grow up and not continue the cycle. It feels hopeless to me sometimes. I've been an activist of one sort or another for most of my adult life, and it is clearer than ever to me that the work has to continue for generations. But the urgency of now feels so much greater than it did even twenty years ago, and is much more urgent than I can keep up with. The productivity machine demands speed!
And speed kills, doesn't it.
There is still beauty in this world. It feels imperiled, but I don't think it can die. I like to look at the photos from Cassini in particular, but also the Juno project that is still orbiting Jupiter and making it possible to see things we have never imagined were out there. It is so clear that we are surrounded by a vast, practically infinite number of worlds, each harboring vast, practically infinite realms of awesome complexity--not *just* in the California sense of "awesome" but its full sense of almost Earth-shattering or ego-shattering or self-shattering, only not to the point of obliteration. More of an "oh I can see things much better now. Thank you".
How we can still be so unkind to each other and the rest of life on Earth is both beyond me and something I understand all too well.
I rescue flies that fall into my coffee cup. Slightly ridiculous I know, but I bathe them (I mean to write a post about how to do this!), and wait to see if they revive. Sometimes they do. Sometimes I "bury" them in the compost bin if they remain inert little scribbles of wings and legs. We cannot always prevent suffering and/or death, and yeah, living requires dying on this planet. Even vegetarians kill to eat. I think compassion both for those we can help and for ourselves when we cannot or did not quickly enough are equally necessary. Mortality is a heavy burden for fallible beings.
Can you see Neptune without binoculars where you are?
Once a long time ago, I also found a morning dove. The night was the coldest of the season and she was trying to get close to the house out of the wind. I thought to her of my warmth inside my house and she just wanted to get out of the wind. So...I put down 2 inches of rigid Styrofoam on the concrete by the front door. There she was protected from the wind on three sides, with at least a little roof over her. She moved to sleep next to the heat of the front door, and never woke up. There is much I do not understand.
Yes to all of this. I’m thankful for this sharing!
The moment we are asked to let go
❤️ grateful for your broken heart
The pain of not being able to save everything never goes away. Thank you for sharing. Lorelei
Thanks for this, Chris. The constant questioning of everything, and your complete lack of self-righteousness while doing it resonate pretty deeply with me. And those quotes from Susan Blackie were spot on to an argument I've been having with myself for years--whether my writing "should" be more overtly activist (as was suggested by several activist writers at a workshop I once attended). That intersection between finding joy AND doing right for a suffering world is wisdom distilled. Ask the fire ... by all means. BTW, my therapist-in-training daughter is expunging the word "should" from her vocabulary, and has strongly suggested I do the same. Working on it.
Your reflections are mine, especially this week. I try to remain centered but sometimes life seems too much with me. I try to be hopeful — I need to believe the moral arc of the universe does bend toward justice, but it is we who bend it.
I’ve read the Rich poem. Thanks for including it. There is a portion of one her poems that I will sometimes read over and over for the beauty of the words:
“My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
so much has been destroyed
I have to cast my lot with those
who age after age, perversely,
with no extraordinary power,
reconstitute the world”.
This is his I feel tonight.
I'm so sorry about the doves. I'm glad the hawk got a meal. We've been the epicenter of bird flu on and off around here and so I've been waiting till those numbers drop and then feeding by scattering feed so they don't cluster at a feeder. I'm not sure if that's better but it seems a bit safer? I don't know if that's a thing in Montana. We have so many stinking massive poultry barns that it rips through like wildfire. It hasn't come to us, thank goodness. So much death simply because we've decided cheap meat and eggs are more important than the misery of millions of birds. I admit I've been guilty of buying those things, especially when I've been poor. Like the hawk, we have to eat. But since raising poultry I can't help thinking about the cost, the being who had a whole life before ending up on my plate, and what the quality of that life was. We are lousy with eggs (especially the ducks!) and now that our collective negligence is hitting our pocketbooks I'm glad to be able to provide an alternative to neighbors and friends. The eggs taste better anyways
You’ve definitely created community, here, Chris, and I feel your presence from afar. I hope you sense it coming back to you from all of us reading, whether we comment or not.
I’m grateful you accepted the board position; your voice is important. And I appreciate the time and effort you put into these posts; often, like today, they speak directly to my heart.