More and more, I notice everyone is living in the middle of their own personal shit storm. We are all just wondering the earth, in a daze as shit storms encircle us, and each of us has our own personal shit in a storm around our hearts, souls, and bodies. Sometimes, it seems like everything is combusting. Like things are falling, like nothing will ever work, like cancer is ravaging all the bodies, like the world is cleaving in halves that might never fit together again. And yet somehow, again and again we persist. Again and again we believe something will change, again and again we keep writing. Again and again and again.
Yesterday I saw Rosi Braidotti speak. I got shivers. She is so cool. So smart. So funny. She may be the most brilliant speaker I’ve ever seen. She was funny, so funny. She was confident, she didn’t read her notes, and it was so clear she was absolutely in love with what she was doing. She’s the kind of academic I aspire to be- she even told old feminist jokes that she thought were hilarious (we also thought they were hilarious: “If you can put one man on the moon, why can’t put them all on the moon?”) She talked of formulations of the subject, of humanity, or re-imagining how it is that we theorize about collectivity. She said it’s not a time for deconstruction, she said it’s a time for reconstruction. A time for imagining new relationalities, thinking new alliance, experimenting with thought and with action. It was so hopeful and I was so inspired.
It is good to be inspired, because I notice lately that being fully in the moment is weighty. There are real cliffs we can tumble down, and sometimes it is so foggy we cannot see the edge of the path. There are big, giant tree roots obstructing our paths and sometimes we trip and fall, and our friends are sometimes so far away they cannot hear us as we thud to the ground and cry out for help. Lately, the emotions are all over the place. And not just mine. Friends look up at me in tears, and then get a hopeful job market email and start a dance party. We all seem to be on a roller-coaster ride through a thousand transitions, our hopes sky-high one second and our hearts aching the next.
It’s important, I think, to remember we’re a we. We’re a network, and our shit storms vibrate and we feel each other. It’s important to do things because they feel right. This morning I just felt like I really needed to bring my bff with the vampire red hair falling in curls down her back a little chocolate cake. Actually I thought about bringing her a jar full of candy, because the woman adores candy, but then I decided cake was better. No reason, I just thought she needed some chocolate dropped off at work to make her day a little brighter, and I thought she needed it now. So I picked out a tiny chocolate-carmel torte with some glittery frosting and a curlicue on top, and wrote on the box “You need sugar to fight the patriarchy. Love you!” and paired it with sparkling apple juice and told the secretary to tell my bff with the vampire red hair falling in curls down her back that these two packages, adorned with curled ribbon, were from the fairies.
Of course she knew it was me, because I love shit like that, and she called. And the next thing I knew, we were hugging on the side walk and she was telling me about how hard her morning was and how much she totally needed a chocolate torte and sparkling apple juice wrapped up in ugly coloured curled ribbon. Because you just never know when your dear ones need a little chocolate torte with a curlicue on top. It could be now, people. And if something in your heart is telling you it’s now, go buy a chocolate torte and say its from the fairies.
We’re all in our own personal shit storms. But everyone else’s shit storms kind of make the ground vibrate and you can feel it in your feet, and sometimes you know that you need to pull your head out of your shit storm and step inside someone else’s. And you know that you can just listen to how hard it is, and know how hard it is, and even if you wish desperately you could fix it, you can even suppress the urge to say you wish you could fix it, and you definitely should suppress the urge to say “At least….” Sometimes it’s hard to be an oak tree inside someone else’s shit storm, but that’s what we need to be. Rooted, secure, unwavering, and bearing chocolate. It’s hard to be with others when they’re in pain. It’s hard to watch someone hurt, especially when all you want to do is erase the hurt and shower them in hope and love and possibility and solutions. Of course that’s never a good idea, because what we need in shit storms is an oak tree to grasp, not more shit flying around in the storm, and besides, the glittery stuff you throw into a shit storm gets shit stuck to it almost immediately and then you can’t see the glitter anymore, only more shit flying in the storm.
So to all my dear ones who were oak trees in all my multiple cancer, academic, surgical, fertility and otherwise shit storms, thank you. I’ll strive to be an oak tree in your shit storm. And I’ll tell you Rosi Braidotti’s favourite feminist jokes while we’re at it. Because who doesn’t need some good feminist jokes re-emerging from the second wave in the midst of a shit storm?