Today in Toulouse it will be 70 degrees out so I opened the big windows and stepped out onto our balcony with my coffee. Across the street, in a well-lit workshop, blind people are learning to cane chairs. I can see them slowly stringing the long strips of rattan. A shiny Peugeot taxi speeds up to the door and comes to a quick stop. A youngish man gets out, goes around, opens up the back passenger door and lifts out a child, maybe 4, and a backpack. Then he goes to the other side, deposits the child, who is smiling, on the ground and opens the other door and lifts out another child and backpack. The taxi driver, or father, I do not know, then carries both backpacks and holds the hands of both little children in their parkas, and they walk up to the front door of the school for the blind. I can see the man bending down and taking big exaggerated steps, he is encouraging them to stride not shuffle into the school. I can see that they are blind but I cannot tell if they are little boys or little girls or even related. They look happy.
At this moment, some of my friends somewhere are meditating and others are sleeping, maybe dreaming vaguely sexy dreams of someone they once knew or tossing with the pre-Monday morning jittery nerve waves.
Sooner than I thought, I am going to have to decide (tell my employer) about my plans for next year. I have also been thinking about, writing about and reading about trauma. It takes so much gentleness and attention and time to undo trauma and just a moment of rage, excessive ego, or terrible luck to inflict it. The current president has just repealed water protection in the US.
It took years of good hard work to get these protections in place and now they are gone. And more environmental controls are being stripped away as the media focuses on the bizarre spectacle of checks going unchecked and balance losing all equilibrium. In southern Oregon we have been fighting the construction of a Canadian pipeline across and under our rivers, streams, often burning forests and earthquake faults to our beautiful Pacific. Soon, there may be even fewer laws left to help stop these kinds of projects. https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2020/01/a-new-trump-rule-would-fast-track-oil-pipelines-without-consideration-of-climate-change/
In this moment, someone is playing beautiful music and dreaming of that one moment, sitting in green grass, where they first felt romantic love. In this moment, a baby who can’t sleep is being watched in frustration and adoration by a parent who can’t believe they made a new life. In this moment, an old, very short woman, is kneeling on a pew in Sevilla in front of a very decorated madonna and praying for her extended family.
It hurts to be in the present moment because trauma is happening to beautiful places and to wonderful people. And yet, I have experienced such complex and large moments of joy in the last few weeks. Playing on an extraordinarily beautiful blue, blue, blue harpsichord, sitting in meditation with another American perfectly fluent in French, listening with all my brain to a Colombian explaining, in Spanish, how she sees French society, walking through city streets late at night with my son and hearing the pinging and ponging of his random thoughts, and hearing a 70 year old Frenchman’s story of planning his first international trip of his life, Argentina!
I don’t know how these links will show up, but here are a few of my internet resources to help me balance these days of terrible news and beautiful connection. A checklist to do something and to see some positive news: https://americansofconscience.com/02-02-2020/
Horoscopes but really just lots of messages about love:
Advice from a therapist:
And here’s an old prayer in the same church with the bicycle:
The Catholic Church did a lot of terrible things over the ages but it’s worth remembering that love was also preached. A rough translation:
Love who you wish and do what you wish. If you remain silent, do it in love, if you speak, speak in love, if you correct, correct with love, if you forgive, forgive with love. Have in your heart love as a root, from this root nothing bad can come.
In this moment, all over the world, people are gently doing the best they can, with love. I know this is happening. It is not in the news and it is not, very much, in the laws, but on the ground, in all sorts of different communities, people are turning towards each other with kindness and good intentions.
And don’t forget. Let the cats remind you. Be in love with your own damn self too. I am so cat, I am so fantastic, I am in this very moment all I need to be. Says the cat.