Last week I decided to start writing a new column. It was Thursday, October 29th to be precise (although in truth, I’ve been thinking about it for a while. Something about a “column” feels like it will compel me to write more often, which is what I need. I need compel!) I was in the middle of writing something else, another new story for the blog. Actually, I was in the middle of writing about 5 new pieces for the blog (one about natural childbirth, one a book-review, one about my views on gun control, one about all the blatantly obvious issues this country needs to attend to, and another one about dichotomy and contradiction. Yes, I have a problem. I start too many things at once. But we’ll get to that in a little bit).
This new column is going to be about all kinds of things. Basically, it is meant to be a space where I share my viewpoints and ideas, where I can talk about things that plague me and how I work through them. Kind of like a journal, but hopefully more useful in some way, and perhaps with extra research and facts, (which I rarely put in my actual journals).
Obviously this is an experiment, and something I just want to try out. I make no promises that this column will be published on any reasonable time-table, nor that it will necessarily be entertaining, educational, or very well-written. But I’m aiming for all of that. Just keep in mind that my bow and arrow are both home-made and crooked.
So here’s my first one. It is unfocused, vague, roaming, and barely edited. It is also not full of any research or any facts whatsoever. But that’s how it had to be. I just had to frickin’ write it. And then leave it alone and publish it. I had to. It was the only way to move forward to the next thing, which will hopefully be more beautifully formed and cohesive and nice to read. 🙂
I started this piece on Monday, and today it’s Wednesday. “Noctuary” by Bonobo is playing on my phone (on my Stereolab Pandora station of all places) . I find it important to make notes to myself of what music is playing during the time of writing certain things, because it gives me a reference point for where I was mentally during the time of the writing. Music is like the potter’s hands which mold the clay piece into what it will be. Or something like that.
The problem is, I still don’t exactly know what this whole thing is about. It’s just stuff that had to come out. I’ve been so mired in my own thoughts lately that I’ve had a great deal of trouble in composing those thoughts into coherent stories. Because there are just SO MANY damnable thoughts that zing through my head on any given day, propelled by any number of impetuses. Most of these are to do with politics, or global issues, or why all schools don’t have organic gardens, or why people kill harmless spiders for no good reason. Sometimes these issues make me ache inside, make me angry and sad and confused about humankind, yet other times (usually the days that I’ve exercised and slept well) I feel some sort of hope because I see that for every “bad” thing out there, there is also something “good”.
One of the things I struggle with most is the ability to confine my thoughts to one thing at a time. People who can do this, and sustain it for a given period, are able to actually accomplish things. All kinds of things! But for me, every day is like a jujitsu match with my own psyche to stay on one line, one concept, one topic, one project, in order to move forward in some constructive manner. Granted, I do see some of the beauty in this. I am always open to creative inspiration, any time of the day or night. And it runs through me like a river, daily. My erratic and poorly written piles and suitcases full of notes and journals attest to this. (I’m not saying it’s good stuff, but it is a lot of stuff.) My eyes and ears are like windows thrown wide open, and I willingly let in any random thought that passes by my front door. But however nice that is in theory, and however wonderful it is when I do need creativity to come in and flood my cranium, often what I really wish for is focus. But not just 10 glorious minutes of it. I can do focus for 10 minutes, sometimes even for several hours, with absolute ease if the task at hand has me fully involved. Examples: Sewing, reading, painting, gardening, cookie-eating, day-dreaming… those kinds of things.
I think where my real problems lie are within the realm of things I feel somewhat powerless to change. And I don’t feel powerless because I don’t think my voice will be heard, no. I feel powerless because there are SO MANY issues that need attending to in this magnificent mess of a world that I don’t know how the hell I could possibly choose a place to start. Here is a list of 10 things, at random, that possess my mind and spirit on the daily: Child abuse, homelessness, the US incarceration system, education system, nonexistent parental leave policies, manufacturing waste, human rights violations, animal abuse, birthing practices in hospitals, and the absurdity of TSA operations. Where oh where am I supposed to begin there? Surely some of those subjects are more important than others, but all of them, and a million more, are of importance to us. All of us. And I know that we must “choose our battles” in life, that one individual cannot fight against every ill in the world. But the hard part is that I feel possessed by the desire to do something about _____ (fill in the blank) whenever it pops up in a news headline, or in an article I read, or in someone’s social media feed. When I sometimes wish that I could just pick one very important thing, and spend the rest of my life fighting for it.
Ah. But then, that just isn’t who I am. I guess that’s a big part of why I started Project:Women. It wasn’t just to provide a platform for conversations and story-sharing and connections to other women, but also, (perhaps selfishly) to have a place where I can devote myself to SO MANY things at once, whenever that thing comes along and possesses me. And somehow PW is an outlier for me, in that it has been effortless for me to focus the majority of my time and energy and love and passion on this thing since day one. And that makes me really happy.
(🎵 playing right now: “Evolution” (Versao Portuense) by The Cinematic Orchestra. Possibly one of the best songs ever created.)
But there are other things.
Things that I want in myself.
Like, I wish I could take it all less seriously. You know, be all easy-going with controversial issues. For example, when someone offers my child halloween candy. And they say “aw it’s just candy, let your daughter have a piece! What’s the big deal?” And what I want to say–forcefully and loudly– is, “the big freaking deal is that this seemingly innocuous piece of “candy” is actually a nugget of volatile chemical compounds held together by processed sugar and carcinogenic food coloring. Why the hell would I voluntarily feed that to my CHILD???? Are you for real? Why do we give this garbage out to children every damnable year anyway?” But then I would just look like one of those overly healthy moms who only feeds her child organic dog food. And gosh, I don’t want to be like that.
And I want to not care about this stuff…
About wanting so badly for more pregnant women to research childbirth in a deeper manner, to learn their own facts about it— outside of a doctor’s office— and to become aware of the realities of what medicated birth really is, what side-effects occur from those drugs, and how a natural childbirth can be. About wishing that the debate over vaccines wasn’t about whether a parent should or should not vaccinate their child, but rather an ongoing series of extensive, HONEST, real conversations about what each individual vaccine is, how they each work differently, how some are more effective/dangerous/toxic/beneficial than others. And about desiring so desperately to hear a different debate about gun control. Because YES, we absolutely need better gun control, but why aren’ we asking more questions? Different questions. Why aren’t we taking a look at what chemicals (pharmaceuticals) were present in the bodies of the young men who have massacred others for no apparent reason, why aren’t we looking at the deeper possible motives of the grown men who murder with guns for racism, or revenge, or anger; why don’t we step way back and attempt to view the most crucial and formative parts of a human being’s life— the childhood years— and see if perhaps these individuals were abused, raped, or ever given love? Because we already KNOW those elements can profoundly affect an individual permanently, for life. And about “Climate Change”, and why we don’t call that what it REALLY is: Environmental degradation as a direct result of human actions. Because “climate change” is not the cause, it is the result. And if we want to fix ANYTHING in this wide world then we must look to the causes, the real, uncomfortable, difficult, nitty-gritty causes. The ones that nobody even has to say out loud because we all know them, but that we need to be discussing. And about questioning our incarceration system, and our parental leave system, and our health-care system, and our education system, and our view of cancer. Why do we give so much money to cancer research, when we as a human population are DROWNING ourselves in a manmade sea of synthetic chemicals— they are in our food, water, air, home furniture, baby car seats, pacifiers, soup cans, makeup, lotions, cleaning supplies, they are in a mother’s breast milk for crying out loud, and they are in the pesticides we spray by the multi-tons over our crops, and then again in the fertilizers we feed those same crops, and do we really think these things do not add up? Do we really believe that they do not, over a lifetime of building up layer by layer in the delicate human body, affect us? Have we really become SO blinded by the convenience and comforts of modern life that we are now numb to the realities of where such comforts came?
These things. I wish I didn’t care about these things.
But, I do.
And let me say, I know that I’m part of some of these problems. I’m not oblivious to the fact that I am typing, right now, on a computer that is manufactured overseas, that I drive a car that uses fossil fuels, the fact that I like electricity and indoor plumbing and airplane travel (and those things use fossil fuels, nuclear reactors, they destroy our water, soil, and our air). So I don’t know, does that make me a partial hypocrite? I guess it does, if you want to get right down to it. But then, all of us are kind of hypocrites. With the exception of only the very few living indigenous peoples who dwell deep in the jungles, and perhaps a few scattered groups of nomads and Inuit, all humans consume some type or form of modernity.
But what I wish for is that humans, in general, were less of a group of arrogant, mass-consumption, screw-the-next-generation, power-driven jerk-offs. You know what I mean?
But then, I can turn it around, flip my frown upside down, and look out into the world and see just as many wonderful, thoughtful, kind, conscious, hard-working, caring individuals as there are crummy ones.
So I guess what it all comes down to is this:
Keep my focus on the good stuff, the good folks, the positive energies that abound out there. And for all the bad stuff? I will not close my eyes or ears to it. Because that doesn’t help me or anybody else. But I will continue to attempt and take on what I can, in the ways that I can, without moving my family into the deep jungles of the Amazon or the plains of Mongolia. (Although honestly I’m not totally against either of those ideas.)
So, I guess that’s it for now. I don’t know exactly what I’ll write about next. The list is never-ending, and it’s just a matter of capturing that ephemeral little enchantress called Focus for long enough to stick to one thing.
And if anybody has any tips for sticking on one subject at a time (specifically in writing), that do not include A: pharmaceuticals, B: weed, or C: meditation (because the only place I can meditate is in a very hot shower and that location does not bode well for writing), then please lay it on me.
(Note: the title of “saying what you must on a soggy day” just means it was raining the day I wrote this. And it also rained Monday. And last weekend. Soggy.)
(Secondary note: I still don’t know what to name this column, because calling it “Tara’s column” is just too boring for words, but I’m gonna open a dictionary or a bar of fair-trade chocolate to inspire me.)
(Tertiary note: Sometimes this world is a really, really nice place.)
Image at top: An awful little doodle I made, from several years ago. Kind of what the inside of my mind looks like in black and white I think. (the background art is from a page out of the book M.I.A. from Rizzoli)