later that night / i held an atlas in my lap / ran my fingers across the whole world / and whispered / where does it hurt? // it answered / everywhere / everywhere / everywhere.
i am thinking hard about these words from warshan shire today.
i am thinking about how much the world has been hurting in the past few days / weeks / months. i am wondering whether this year has been singularly horrible or whether all years are horrible & i am just now starting to pay attention. i do not want to confront either reality.
i am thinking about how, yes, it is important that we do all that we possibly can to extend our empathy & offer our assistance in the wake of such horrors, but it is equally important that we stay kind to ourselves. after all, how much help, how much healing, can we give to our fellow humans & our world if we ourselves are fighting simply to breathe? i am a staunch believer in the idea that self-care is a beautiful & sometimes even revolutionary act in its own right, & it is perhaps most often a defiant one in a universe that seems to lean toward heartache. self-care is not selfishness; it is survival. it is the cleanse we need at the very time we need it.
(my kind & brilliant friend samantha chaffin wrote a wonderful & deeply true blog post about this subject just a few days ago; it is well worth the read.)
i am thinking about how hard it is to know how the human heart operates in situations where a world more connected than ever before must use those connections to give us news of terrible things. i am heartsick when these things happen, yes. i fight fear & only win some of the time. but at times—more times than i care to freely admit—i can read news of terrible occurrences & feel nothing but an awful numbness. i search myself for the responses i know should be there, the responses that satisfy my conscience if nothing else. & usually they surface eventually. usually it's a matter of processing, like so many things are in this technicolor world. but sometimes i still feel blank & stiff save for an overwhelming pressure. i loathe this pressure with every fiber of my being, but i can't get it off my shoulders. i can't get my soul to work right from underneath it. something must be wrong with me, i conclude, since i am numb on a day when wisdom tells me that i & the world cannot afford that luxury, that waste.
when i am confused in the very core of my mind & soul, when i no longer know how to feel or why, when i feel that something must be wrong with me, i invariably turn to art. whether this is escape, whether this is right—these are questions for a day when my mind is clearer. here is what i have been turning to lately.
animated films. disney's zootopia: a wonderfully quick-witted, vibrant statement about stereotyping & acceptance. aardman's shaun the sheep movie: a delightful, dialogue-less adventure told through the unique artistry of stop-motion animation. cartoon saloon's the secret of kells: a magical, gorgeously illustrated historical tale brimming with both ancient wisdom & childlike wonder. (other favorites from these studios include big hero 6, wallace & gromit, & song of the sea, respectively. i am also very much looking forward to disney's moana and laika's kubo & the two strings.)
new musical discoveries. XYLØ's "america," jasmine thompson's "willow," låpsley's "station," daniela andrade's "sound," shelby merry's "the scorch," & thomston's "collarbones," to name just a few of a few.
the eternal power & grace of poetry. my copy of ocean vuong's night sky with exit wounds has been carrying me through this week, as have these videos of safia elhillo & brenna twohy performing their work. just now i read two awe-inspiring poems by oliver de la paz & francisco x. alarcón. i have tentatively started myself on a write-one-poem-a-day regimen, because the last time i forced myself to be poetically productive, it did wonders for my creative skills & my heart.
Say amen. Say amend. / Say yes. Say yes / anyway.
& so, with that solace from ocean vuong, i leave you here for today, my friend. blinking in the face of a world that stares at me head-on. heavy-hearted but willing to hope.