mat Walker CC
"Hey, I'd like to apologize for the world / Being what it is / And hey / I’d like to shield your sorrow / Hey, you know it took imagination /
For you to survive / And maybe / Make it to tomorrow." -Patty Larkin "Lost and found"
Wilfred Bion once wrote that the core of a dream was its emotional reality. The truth embedded in how something feels. It's the reason why many therapists will so often ask you, again and again, how something makes you feel. Because trauma severs us from our emotional reality. It's not always been safe to know how something truly feels. And so it's all too often in dreams alone that feeling comes through. Something in us processing the unprocessable. Perhaps writing does a bit of this also. So many unbidden tools fashioned from we not what or where exactly, in order to help us feel and heal.
Can anyone really say where a poem comes from? It came to me in a dream, we sometimes say of things. Inspiration hit. The words spilled out. And what was the container for all of this feeling? It's always just been us. And yet, it feels true to say that some part of it is also not us. We impact each other and our work bears the imprint of all we've seen and all who we have known.
And of tragedy, too, we come to know the devastating impacts we can make. We are not drowning in goodness. Everything feels as if it's ending, all of the time, everywhere. It's a familiar feeling, the world ending. Anyone whose home was not a safe, happy or warm place knows what it feels like to say: it's all ended before it's even begun.
What do you do with a world-ending feeling? How do you even put it into words? We want for heroes and forms of perfect justice, to slay the dark with a swift sword of light. We feel defeated by the sheer size and frequency of brutality.
Stephanie Brody writes: "We think of heroes as solitary figures, whose feats of strength are legendary. They slay monsters and rescue the helpless. But there are heroes amongst us whose status is secured through acts of survival, resilience, and stamina. Enduring life's cruelties, betrayals, terrors, and abandonments, they have struggled for a right to something more, something different. The steep climb towards transformation is not always possible alone. This is [our] point of entry."
Sue Grand calls it ordinary heroism. She writes of these ordinary heroes: "They are particular, recognizable, giving, and receiving. In fragmentary slices of time, a private world seems to appear. Me and you. A few of us. A small family. Us. Taking care of each other, in loyalty, tenderness, solidarity. Briefly, the world is something like it was, before."
But our world feels nothing like it was before. Many of us would say there has never been much good feeling in our world at all. I think if that were the whole truth we probably would not still be here. You and I. Us. A small family. Ordinary. Sometimes heroic. Sometimes good.
But... What something feels like? The world. Family. A moment. What is the core of this moment? What is it trying to tell us? Sue Grand would say that through all of this dark something is calling out to us to envision a "contagion of peace." To find courage in the face of destruction. To embolden each other to do the good that each of us has in us.
There is so much destruction in our current moment it feels impossible to process. It feels naïve and slightly sinister to even speak of goodness.
As I watched a news report from Uvalde Texas, of a child who covered herself in her friend's blood to pretend that she was dead, I wept so uncontrollably. I wept for the particular awfulness of her story, and I wept because I too remember being a child who sometimes had to play dead in their environment in order to stay alive. No doubt many of us, sadly, have known what it's like to confront evil at so young an age. The supports that would help us process such things, if ever we really can, are not yet in place. Sometimes they never grow in. We become adults with compromised processing function.
It has never been a good time to be a child. We have not made it a safe place to be a vulnerable being. It seems the only sane option is to armor up, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. And yet... We are, perhaps, our own salvation. There is no savior soon returning, no hero to be called upon, no perfect father or mother to recall, no happy home. It is up to each of us, now, to be a little of what we never got.
I encourage the ordinary hero in each of you to practice ordinary acts of goodness this week. Hold a door, lend a hand. The great lie is that such small acts effect no change. We wait for the big moments that never come. We stand by while things get worse. Without the right environment, things do not bloom. They wither on the vine. It is up to each of us to set the conditions for ordinary goodness to grow. Goodness can spread. Sometimes no one will hand a person asking for change anything on a subway, then one person does it, and others follow suit. It's contagious. We have an effect on each other, each and every day.
We probably won't fix what is broken. But the point is to try. Trying isn't just noble, it's necessary. We see what happens when we don't try. Darkness feeds on apathy and impotence. But we are each braver than that. Ours is a contagious time, in all sorts of ways. We don't yet know what it would mean to be peace-contagious. What would it feel like? What is the dream trying to tell us?
I think our contributors might help us find that answer. They have brought us so many dream-fragments of survival, of the goodness that will not be snuffed out. Dark may swallow light but that light soon lights the dark from within.
Hope, whatever else the prophets have said about it, is always borne out in the dark. And so, here, in these dark and terrifying times, we offer up our small bit of hope.
Until next time, friends... Press your ear to the dream, and soldier forth the deep and true goodness that is inside of you. No one else alive can offer up to the world exactly what you can. Your light is your light. And by all means: let there be light.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.