Did you ever read Fortunately, Unfortunately, oh, you children of the 70s? It was written and illustrated by Remy Charlip, an impish genius who I’ve written about before. In this book, the boy is trying to get to his friend who is in a different city. As he travels he has good luck — a plane appears at exactly the point he needs one! — followed by bad — the plane breaks down in midair. There’s a misplaced pitchfork, a sea of sharks, and a tiger along the way. The child’s fear-closet version of bankruptcy, cancer, and divorce. There’s also a soft tree and parachute, which are like the arms of a friend. In other words, it mimics the up and down waves of happiness and anxiety that so many of us live in.
Most of us have bobbed in this ocean for most of our lives — just some with higher pitched waves. Lately, though, I’m noticing a different rhythm. Most days as of late, I wake up with dread. A sort of, “Oh shit, here we go again,” feel. A knowledge that I’m going to open my phone and the world is going to come in with all of its fresh and rampant horrors. Trump will have fucked up yet another thing. A new species will have disappeared. Another shooting. A bigger fire. The loss of a friend’s parent. An Amber alert.
I lie in bed and long to go back to sleep — to sink down into the seaweed quiet of my deep dreams where lately my father has often been visiting me. I want the softness of the sheets, the warmth of my husband’s still body, the knowledge that my kids are curled up in their beds nearby.
My getting up is often too quick. It is harried and not at all gentle to body or heart. Staccato! Showers. Making lunches. Rapid fire toothbrushing. It’s not pretty. Certainly not kind. I’m shot into the world with a sense of necessity.
Once there, nearly every day, I am reawakened to magic and purpose. I reconnect my heart to the work of Today, which feels increasingly to be helping people arrive in their bodies and also moving my community toward a dialogue about our schools.
At the moment, I’m in California at a conference. It doesn’t seem to matter that I’m removed from my daily routine; I still experience this steely regret at waking, a dread of the world. But two days ago, I walked through a student-led farm and learned of a Wiccan garden and visited little dome houses that had been built by students in the early 70s and are still lived in by 19- and 20-years olds who are wrestling with justice and beauty. Yesterday, I went on a tour of the Sacramento river basin and saw a seemingly forgotten area penned in my highways that is a home to thousands of migratory birds. I had dinner with a woman who teaches art education in Virginia and we laughed about absurdities and shared hurts, even though we’d just met.
I long to wake up with love and readiness for the world, but that’s currently a tall order. Each morning, I have to climb over the ever growing trash pile of junk news and deep wounds before I can see the trees and some blue sky. Every day, fortunately, I find that it’s worth the climb.