Nine weeks have passed since the Inauguration and once, twice, thirty-seven times a day I hear something infuriating. Today’s insanity? A health care plan that plans to not take care of people’s health. Every day there’s another vortex that sucks me up, whirls me around and splats me out on the kitchen floor.
But one of my teachers, Rev. Deborah Johnson, said something a few weeks ago that makes me feel better. It’s a model I can hitch my mind to, a way of structuring the world that offers me a road map through, and out of, the chaos.
Check out the graphic above and let me explain:
Each of us live our lives in three realms.
The first is the universal. Some might call it the spiritual. This is the way in which we are all the same. All seven billion of us breathe air, eat, drink, sing, dance, create, love and die. We all share a planet where the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. We all share a capacity for kindness, beauty, freedom, serenity, peace, forgiveness…
The second is cultural. This is where we are all like some people. Think race, sexual orientation, language, political persuasion, food preferences. In my case, I share a cultural connection with white lesbians who speak English, vote Democratic and prefer salami to, well, just about everything. Those are my people.
The third is where we are like no one else. The talents I was born with, the times through which I have travelled, the people, places and things I have encountered all meld to make me a unique incarnation like none other. Never before and never again will there be a constellation exactly like me.
That’s the model. Simple, right? Obvious, right?
So, why is it helpful?
Because it’s a gentle, slap-upside-the-head reminder that since Mr. Trump foisted himself on the political scene, I’ve been living—almost exclusively—in that middle realm. I’ve been holed up in a cave with my people, assessing the enemy, poring over war plans. Us against the marauding hordes. If you dissect my brain, you’d probably find Mr. Trump in a smoking jacket, tweeting from a dark corner in my neocortex.
I want him evicted. I want my brain back. The infographic tells me there is more to life than politics. There is the spiritual and the personal.
But…the world is crumbling, there is too much work to do. How can I crawl into my comfy couch and meditate when my 60-year-old brother may soon lose his health insurance, when kids in West Virginia have nothing else to do but pop oxycontin, when Sesame Street might be de-funded, when the EPA may loose 30% of its funding?
I should be going to town halls, grabbing the microphone and demanding universal care. I’m supposed to bury the White House in postcards…join the fight at Standing Rock…send a birthday card to Ruth Bader Ginsberg…give money to protect the plover and sturgeon of the Great Lakes…deliver food to undocumented immigrants because they’re afraid to leave home and drive to the food bank. My inbox and social media feeds are bursting with people telling me I should call Washington to demand an independent investigation into Putin-gate…call my school district about transgender bathrooms…call my police department about ICE…call my MoC about the Muslim ban…
Heeeeeeeelp! Where’s the cave I can crawl into and hide?
I care about all of it but—truth be told—I hate the phone, dread public speaking, don’t believe postcards make a big enough difference and, as much as I’d like to, I can’t keep writing checks.
I want to be a good citizen but what is my work to do?
I’ve emailed, faxed, sent postcards and made phone calls but only because people I respect told me to. I did it out of obligation, not an inner urge. But, in times like these, isn’t sacrifice required? Isn’t it supposed to be hard? Do the feeings behind the action matter? What is my job in the resistance?
* * * * *
A few days ago, I was sitting in my car, scrolling through Instagram on my iPhone when I came across an ad for a t-shirt. Across the chest, in simple, white letters was written “Nevertheless, She Persisted”—a quote from Mitch McConnell in reference to Elizabeth Warren. Under the photo was a caption that read: 100% of proceeds are donated to Planned Parenthood. I was intrigued.
A few clicks later I learned that this company had sold 45,000 shirts and given away $375,000.
I felt a quickening.
I dug deeper. The company offered on-demand printing. The website was crazy simple. Tons of options. All custom. Any quantity. No inventory required. They handle shipping.
A flush ran through me. My hands started tingling.
THIS I could do. I have something to say. I can write. I can design. I know how to market. I could design products grounded in spiritual principles, sell them online and give the profits away. Lots of profits. This was work that could use my skills, my talents, my entrepreneurial mindset.
With a rush of energy, I dropped my phone and stared out the windshield. In a flash, I saw J Lo on the cover of People Magazine wearing one of my t-shirts. My products were burning up the internet. Non-profits were lined up outside my office to be among those receiving checks. Messages of spiritual empowerment were being celebrated across the country. A retail store deal was under discussion…
Nothing fuels the mind like a good fantasy.
Crazy, right? Ridiculous, right? Maybe, but….stay tuned.
* * * * *
The infographic is now taped to my computer, refrigerator and bathroom mirror, a reminder that I will be of most use—be my most powerful—when I engage with the world, grounded in spiritual principles, brandishing the tools only I can offer.
Three facets of life, in alignment—simultaneously.
* * * * *
The concepts behind the infographic are based on Rev. Deborah Johnson’s sermon at Inner Light on Sunday, February 26th. If you’d like to hear it from the horse’s mouth, click here.
P.S. Just in case I launch an online store (don’t worry, you’ll be the first to know)…anyone have an in with J Lo?