You do not travel if you are afraid of the unknown, you travel for the unknown, that reveals you with yourself.

~ Ella Maillart

Photo by Mark Stevens | Mica View Trail, Saguaro National Park, Tucson, Arizona

 

I Only Went Out for a Walk... (Black & White, Saguaro National Park)

While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.

~ William Wordsworth

Photo by Tony Varela | Prairie Creek Redwoods Sate Park, California

Great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa)

I have learned not to worry about love; but to honor its coming with all my heart.

~ Alice Walker

Photo by Cheryl Strahl | Polar bear in the Arctic Ocean near Kaktovik on Barter Island, Alaska

BearAndStick

Palm #california #sanjose #palmtrees #blackandwhitephotography #blackandwhitephoto #blackandwhite

from Instagram

What Would Gwendolyn Brooks Do

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Photo by TJ Parker

Dawn oversees percolating coffee
and the new wreckage of the world.

I stand before my routine reflection,
button up my sanity,
brush weary strands of hair with pomade
and seal cracked lips of distrust
with cocoa butter and matte rouge.

I ready myself once again
for morning and mortify.
Stacking poetry and bills in a knapsack;
I bundle up hope (it’s brutal out there).

For a moment, I stand with ghosts
and the framed ancestors surrounding me.
I call out, hoping she can hear me
over the day-breaking sirens—
hoping she’s not far away,
or right down the street,
praying over another dead black boy.

How will we make it through this, Ms. Brooks?

Hold On.

When she held a body,
she saw much worse than this.
I know she was earshot and fingertip close to oppression.
She saw how hateful hate could be.
She raised babies, taught Stone Rangers,
grew a natural and wrote around critics.

She won a Pulitzer in the dark.

She justified our kitchenette dreams,
and held on.
She held on to all of us.

Hold On, she whispers.

Another day, when I have to tip-toe
around the police and passive-aggressive emails
from people who sit only a few feet away from me.
Another day of fractured humans
who decide how I will live and die,
and I have to act like I like it
so I can keep a job;
be a team player, pay taxes on it;
I have to act like I’m happy to be
slammed, severed, and swindled.
Otherwise, I’m just part of the problem—
a rebel rouser and rude.

They want me to like it, or at least pretend,
so the pretty veils that blanket who we really are—
this complicated history, can stay pretty and veiled
like some desert belly dancer
who must be seen but not heard.

Hold On.

We are a world of lesions.
Human has become hindrance.
We must be stamped and have papers,
and still, it’s not enough.
Ignorance has become powerful.
The dice that rolls our futures is platinum
but hollow inside.

Did you see that, Ms. Brooks?
Do you see what we’ve become?
They are skinning our histories,
deporting our roots,
detonating our very right to tell the truth.
We are one step closer to annihilation.

Hold On, she says, two million light years away.

She’s right.
Hold On everybody.
Hold On because the poets are still alive—and writing.
Hold On to the last of the disappearing bees
and that Great Barrier Reef.
Hold On to the one sitting next to you,
not masked behind some keyboard.
The one right next to you.
The ones who live and love right next to you.
Hold On to them.

And when we bury another grandmother,
or another black boy;
when we stand in front of a pipeline,
pour another glass of dirty drinking water
and put it on the dining room table,
next to the kreplach, bratwurst, tamales, collards, and dumplings
that our foremothers and fathers—immigrants,
brought with them so we all knew that we came from somewhere;
somewhere that mattered.
When we kneel on the rubbled mosques,
sit in massacred prayer circles,
Holding On is what gets us through.

We must remember who we are.
We are worth fighting for.
We’ve seen beauty.
We’ve birthed babies who’ve only known a black President.
We’ve tasted empathy and paid it forward.
We’ve Go-Funded from wrong to right.
We’ve marched and made love.
We haven’t forgotten—even if they have—Karma is keeping watch.

Hold On.
Hold On everybody.
Even if all you have left
is that middle finger around your God-given right
to be free, to be heard, to be loved,
and remembered…Hold On,
and keep
Holding.

~ Parneshia Jones

Love is not consolation. It is light.

~ Simone Weil

Photo by Ronnie Goyette | Great egret at Morro Bay, California

 

Great Egret Reflections

52 Thoughts: Seventh Thought

Photo by TJ Parker

In the last two weeks one friend suddenly lost his Mom and my honey’s Mom had some serious health issues and went into the hospital.  We are hoping the treatment helps her, that the doctors can fully figure out what’s going on, and that she can get on the road to recovery.  My honey flew out in January 31 to help her family.  That’s what you do.  You pull together.  You help.  You love.

I woke this morning with an overwhelming feeling of love.  Love for my honey and her Mom and Dad and my Mom and my friend who just lost his Mom.  Love for the rest of my family and my friends.  You are precious to me.  More than I could ever express in a blog post.

I also woke with this feeling that I needed to say something about the current climate in our country.  About how I feel about it, from a personal perspective.  Keyword, personal.

I hate divisiveness.  I’m always “preaching” togetherness and love because I mean it, I think those things, along with kindness and hope and joy are keys to life.  Both to our own personal living of it, and to our shared community, locally, nationally, and globally.  We are literally all in this together so we need to pull our heads out of our collective asses and get on with the business of working together.

I’m a patriot.  That means I can criticize what my government is doing, and should if I don’t agree.  We were founded on that principal.  Our right to disagree with our elected officials and call out any injustices we think are happening.  The fact that I don’t agree with what our current president is doing on many fronts is my personal opinion.  This opinion doesn’t make me unAmerican.  Not in the least.  In fact, it makes me an American.  We have that right here.  To disagree.  To call out.  And beyond that, we have a duty to do it.  I don’t mean we should just mindlessly repost memes about our politicians.  That kind of judgment and ridiculousness has gone on too long.  We need to be responsible about how we disagree, but disagreeing is an important part of our democracy.

I’m tired of playground tactics.  This crap about oh, they did it, they did it, so we are going to do it too.  Oh my God.  Grow up.  We all need to just grow up.  When the “other side” does something we don’t like, that we’ve found to be reprehensible, it’s not an excuse to then go and do the same or a similar thing just because, well, “they” did it.  Both sides do it, both politicians and the average joe.  C’mon people.  Grow a pair.  Pull up your big boy pants.  Quit reacting, pointing the finger, and being so childish.  You have good ideas that are your own, present them.  But don’t use as an excuse that the other side “did it” and now so will you.  If you think so little of the other side, why would you want to turn around and do something you found to be unacceptable.  It just widens the gap.  Creates further divide.  “They did it, they did it!”  Childish.  We aren’t on a playground anymore.

I care about the environment.  I’m tired of the climate change discussion.  There is climate change.  Yes, it’s occurring naturally, without man’s intervention, because it just is.  But we are also adding to it.  Making that change happen at a faster rate by putting toxins into the air.  Toxins we also put into the water and the land.  We need to take care of this planet.  Let’s stop talking about climate change and start talking about the planet itself, the environment.  We’ve gotten lost in semantics.  Holy hell, the Earth is the only one we have.   We want to treat it with respect, the respect it deserves.  You want to use it up without a thought about what that could mean for our children’s children?  Are you that arrogant and uncaring?  Get a grip.  Man is having an impact on this beautiful spinning ball and we need to try and make sure that impact is as minimal as possible.  Quit arguing about semantics.

Fake news.  My lord.  It exists.  On both sides.  So pull your head out and do your due diligence.  Quit reading your one or two sources that only support your point of view because you think only those sources are telling you the truth.  They probably aren’t.  Mainstream media is not the enemy.  Journalism has and always will help to shine the light and point our attention to things we should be paying attention to.  Sometimes we don’t like the message they send, but that’s life.  Since when do we want yes men and insular points of view to rule the land.  We don’t.  Again, grow the hell up and read.  Yes, I’ll say it again.  Read many sources, especially sources that disagree with your point of view.  Do your own research.  Be responsible.  Don’t just press send on meme after meme after meme without actually looking into the information you’re spreading.  If you just press send like a mindless automaton then you are a huge part of the problem.  YOU are encouraging the spread of misinformation.   Hell, let’s quit calling it fake news and start calling it misinformation.  That’s what it is.  Sleight of hand.  Don’t be gullible.  Don’t be an idiot.  There are good sources of information on both sides.  And mainstream media… just because they are printing things you don’t like to hear doesn’t mean what they’re printing is a lie because it doesn’t support your worldview.  Yes, I’m liberal, but I do read stuff from the right.  I want to know the point of view, I want to try and understand it, and I want to hear different points of view.  I don’t agree with what I read much of the time, but as I said somewhere earlier in this rant, not agreeing is part of the deal.

And speaking of just following along.  We should all be questioning and critical consumers of information.  Whatever the source.

I love the diversity of this country.  No one group or group’s dogma, religious or political, should have the final say about anything.  No one group should be able to determine how I live, who I sleep with, what I do with my body, etc.  You might have very strong feelings about these things, and I appreciate those.  You are entitled to have them, they are yours.  But since when did one group have the right to control me.  This country was founded on the principle that church and state should be separate.  Why?  Because there is more than one way to worship.  People pray to God differently, call God by different names.  Some don’t believe in God at all.  All of those beliefs are valid and no one of those groups should be able to legally make the other groups follow their tenants, their belief system.  Our spiritual beliefs should be kept out of government otherwise we run the very real risk of falling into a dictatorship where one group dictates to all other groups how they should live their lives, what is acceptable for them and not as to beliefs.  A suppression of beliefs is a very scary thing.

Speaking of fear… demonizing an entire group as the source of our woes is frightening. Yes, I’m talking about Muslims.  They worship differently than Christians do, people don’t understand their religion, but this difference, and a bit of mystery, doesn’t make them terrorists.  Terrorists are terrorists.  They come from all backgrounds, all religions, and are born in different countries.   The Oklahoma City bombing was carried out by a couple of white guys born in the U.S.  Both had been in the military and were upset about the FBI’s handling of the Waco, David Kuresh, situation.  My point is that we can’t look at only one group and demonize them as the source of all evil.  That’s happened in our world’s history before and it led to the execution of millions of people.  The Jews were not evil either.  Some people may read this and think I’m over simplifying things, and maybe I am a tad, but I’m an intelligent person, one who knows that just because someone is born somewhere doesn’t automatically mean they are bad.  Singling out an entire group for the actions of a few, that’s wrong, and it’s lazy.

We’ve somehow created a culture, or been led by the noses into it, that there is “the other” and “the other” is bad.  “The other” is evil.  There are things we won’t agree on ever.  That’s the way of it.  That’s how life works.  We all come from different places, have different backgrounds, grew up having our own unique experiences.  Those experiences inform how we see the world, how we think.  They should.  Our own experiences are ours.  Black, white, gay, straight, liberal, conservative, democrat, republican, disabled, abled, women, men, Mexican, Muslim, Christian, Asian, people in rural areas, city-dwellers, environmentalists, people from industry, conservationists, big business… it goes on and on.  We are different.  We come from different points of view.  It’s a beautiful bold diverse melting pot.  All points of view matter.  There is no “other”.  There’s just us.  And we need to start being responsible for ourselves.  Not following along with dogma because it’s supposed to be ours.  Because someone told us to.  We need to question.  Not just the beliefs of those spewing the dogma, what they are telling us is true, but ourselves.  We need to look inside, figure out why we are motivated the way we are.  Are we being responsible?  Are we taking responsibility?  Or are we just automatons.  Being controlled by our biases, or the biases of the people we are blindly listening to.

We have to ask questions people.  Of ourselves, our politicians, our media, our family, and friends.  We live in a community of diverse minds, we need to act like it.  To honor it.

That is all.