I got an orange pop today. A couple times a year if I feel the yawning, comfortable dark stretching out too near me, I’ll get an orange pop. It’s a simple thing, but when I buy it I decide I will enjoy a beautifully neon drink, a too-sugary explosion of flavor most days, instead of sitting on something high and thinking about how great it would be to slip away. It’s embarrassing, its uncomfortable, but its true.
My brain is super full today. I love my brain, its boundless empathy, its creative nooks and crannies, its attention to details. I notice everything. The squeak of a slightly off-kilter ceiling fan, the glare of a naked light bulb, music I didn’t queue up, the sudden and frightening sound of a bus speeding by, every memory associated with every smell, the furrowed brow of the guy across from me, on and on and on. There are thousands of details in every moment. They are too many. Sometimes I want to stop my endless categorizing.
I suppose I feel lots of movement in my brain today. I am not a “stable” person, I never have been, even as a kid. What I am is a strongly rooted person. I am planted in deep on this earth, constantly catching vibrations, a passing stranger’s bad day, a child’s giggle, the smell of garbage and piss in July, it all comes in and gets into these roots and they grow deeper, longer, more ready to handle the earth.
I cried today. Twice. Once in the bathroom when I remembered I don’t trust people to have my back. Then again on the way home, unusually in my car in the searing heat, stuck in traffic, feeling the many people and the miles of concrete pounding in my head. Quietly, today, for this is not despair, nor anger, but actual sadness, this is not a common way I cry. I noticed the taste of the salt of my sweat and tears on my lips. I feel better after I cry but sometimes it’s not satisfying enough, especially when I feel rage. I felt better today.
Today I’m thinking about someone else’s really bad day, about a recent phone call that was going perfectly well except their tired-sounding voice and my heart started pounding, standing outside in the cool, calm of an ideal summer evening, I felt awash in anxiety. It was building for them quietly on the other end, 2 minutes later they broke into silence, then tears. I know it sounds nuts to say that I felt that coming, hundreds of miles away over a phone connection, but I know I did. All the things my brain can do ramps up exponentially when I love someone. Sometimes it means I get people. Sometimes it means I can’t handle people. I have been a poor friend, an even poorer lover in my lifetime.
Today I’m thinking about my father and that he won’t be around forever. That has occurred to me many times, especially as his own trauma of losing his father as a teenager (his dad died young, a tannery worker, another working class man turned to salt) led him to tell me as a child that he’d likely not live past his 50s. He’s almost 65. When I visited him this month he said “some people think this is stupid, but I can just stare at the sky for hours. You see the blue sky, you see the white clouds, and it’s always changing.” Yes, dad, yes. Those beautiful details I count, too.
Today I’m thinking about the beautiful people we all saw killed instantly and immediately after the fact in the last few years. I’m thinking about a country out of sorts, people being shot left and right. Real evidence, in blood, on Facebook Live, of racism and fear leading to murder and still not everyone sees what’s right there. I’m thinking about white racism becoming a party platform, of this country shutting its borders, reviving ideas we were taught in history books were part of our tainted past. I’m thinking about all the people who couldn’t just SAY “black lives matter.” I’m thinking of the immigrant families who sit around the dinner table in fear. I’m thinking of the Black families who sit around the dinner table in fear. And I’m thinking about the white families who sit around the dinner table in fear. There are plenty of poor white folks in this country to fight for, and I’ll take ‘em over the rich right-language liberal elite that condescends on racial politics but has never once felt the need to fight over resources. I still have a heart for the poor and middle class cop families and the military families who raised boys in an extraordinarily fucked up culture. Most can’t handle the power mixed with their own fragility, they get fucked too. Though to be clear, because this world has created a binary of everything, this empathy exists while still believing firmly that cops that murder must be brought to justice. The whole fucking system needs reworked. Cop jobs, military jobs, they are options that are advertised to give honor when few jobs do for working class people. Come back at me when you can raise a family on a restaurant job (working on it).
I got up today and did extraordinary things. I am a leader but I realized recently that I should stop trying to get to the front of the room. I feel too busy just surviving some days. Today, I got up. I performed a boringly adult task of taking my car in for a recall. I performed my work with relative capacity. I was lost for 5 minutes in a bathroom today but otherwise I remembered what I needed to do. I checked things off a to-do list. I had at least 2 conversations where I was sharing a vision for the world, and in those conversations I felt authentic, I was not an imposter. I survived as an organizer.
Today, I felt the yearning for the well-worn paths in my brain that lead to those moments someplace high, but I didn’t go there. That is enough, that is extraordinary, that is my very selfish revolution. I chose to look forward to all the days I’ll get up and go at it again. I look forward to harnessing my darkness and my porousness for good. And the next time I want to go to someplace high, as long as I’ve got $2, there is orange pop to remember.