Two days from now when all the Christmas gifts have been opened I’ll probably realize my best gift was actually delivered two days before, when I finished reading @kieselaymon‘s incredible book: Heavy. Nine days from now as I try to name a word or resolution to usher in the New Year as I try to become better, I will remember how Heavy illustrates how easy it is to name and declare and resolve ... but not so easy to actually take the disciplined steps to become better. A better feminist. Better anti-racist. Better eater. Better exerciser. Better wife. Better mother. Better artist. Better than my assorted addictions. Better human. There is one particular point that questions the cliche about “we did the best we could” when we think about our past ... and questioning whether that’s always true. Do we do the best we can in any moment? Not me. Not by a mile. I like when writing unpacks cliches like that. What a great book.ON JUNE 3, 2020, I READ THESE WORDS THAT LAYMON POSTED ON HIS INSTAGRAM REGARDING PENDANTS INSCRIBED WITH SENTENCES THAT HE WEARS:
I wear two sentences around my neck. One from Lucille Clifton says, "they ask me to remember but they want me to remember their memories and I keep on remembering mine." The other from James Baldwin says, "The very time I thought I was lost, my dungeon shook and my chains fell off." I don't believe in superheroes but I believe in super sentences. People and their sentences save people and their sentences. People and their sentences humiliate, torture and kill people and their sentences. My sentences and my actions have done both. I want us and our sentences to live dynamic lives draped in tender touch. I want us to revise alone and create together ... We need to live. We need to revise. It does not have to be this way.Right now our country is going through a totally amazing awakening. We are realizing that just because something has always been done a certain way doesn't mean that it has to be done that way forever. We are realizing the urgency to revise and create.
I see us attempting to make all sorts of revisions in how we practice everything: art, business, politics, family, friendships.
Part one is finding a quiet space to think honestly and to identify needed revisions: in my heart, my home, my community. Part two is going into the world to make the case for the revisions as we together create a path forward. In this process, we lose patience for all sorts of reasons: You don't understand. You are taking too long. Where were you years ago when I was screaming about it? What do you mean abolish, that's too extreme. What do you mean reform, that's not enough.
It's difficult to create together with people who are at different stages of understanding, with ideas for revisions as diverse and unique as each human being is.
I am optimistic, though. To be part of a generation where a coalition to revise for the better is broader than it has ever been. I want to show up to the quiet to do the hard work of revising alone. I want to show up to the loud to do the hard work of creating together, even if that involves difficult debates ... including the most important one on the table right now between abolish versus reform.