Honestly

"Choosing to be honest is the first step in the process of love. There is no practitioner of love who deceives."
– bell hooks

After reading this quote, I sat for a minute and actually tried to think of ways this isn't true. Doesn't a person sometimes have to deceive the people they love for good reasons? I truly have no idea why my brain went there first. It's not like I am in the habit of running around, lying to the people I love. (Unless, of course, we are planning a surprise party. Then I will lie like crazy. But I like to say that's a lie even Jesus would tell.)


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Who Do You Love?

“In times of crisis, we must all decide again and again whom we love.”
— Frank O’Hara

Just a thought, relevant to the times we live in now: we can love people we don't actually know personally.

Another thought: I now have the Deborah Cox song Who Do You Love stuck in my head. Join me!


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Faceless

Oooooh, have you seen Lucie Birant's faceless watercolour paintings? Love them.

A watercolour painting of two little boys looking at the camera with a toy between them, but their faces are gone. The whole thing has a retro feel, like a photo from the 60s.

A watercolour painting of a woman, standing sideways in a red shirt, but she has no face.



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Embracing the Power of Modifications

Near the middle of lockdown, I subscribed to an email list called The Workout Today. They send emails three times a week that include some kind of philosophical reflection as well as a workout you can do at home.

This is one of the first ones I received, and I saved it.

First, they talk about the importance of embracing modifications so that a workout fits you and your body. Then they expand:

"If you can learn to embrace modifications, you have a little-known superpower. Every day we are faced with 'defaults' that society has somehow agreed upon. These defaults become sources of social pressure and self-shame. The more we recognize these societal defaults for what they are - arbitrary guidelines - the better we can get at modifying as needed.

So no, you don’t have to drink a beer at happy hour, you can modify and drink sparkling water instead.

And no, you don’t have to walk in a straight line down the sidewalk, you can modify with twirls or skips.

And you certainly don’t have to buy into the mindset that you aren’t enough, just the way you are."

Sometimes I am amazed by the fact that I was raised in a society that prizes individuality so highly, and yet I so often let myself get blown about by the winds of the default.

The result for me can be as minimal as staying up later than I really wanted to and as significant as silently watching injustice unfold before my eyes. Both are unnecessary, although the devastation caused varies greatly.

I'm working on paying more attention to when and where I go along with things that I don't necessarily want, just because they are already happening. It's hard! But I like framing it as a modification. I'm not opting out or being lame - I am just doing my own little personal modification!


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Dance it OUT!

One of my favourite things is watching dancers' faces while they have all the fun in the world.



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Guilty

I am not generally one to quote Voltaire, but this is a good one for our time and for all of time.


"Everyone is guilty of all the good they did not do."
-Voltaire

This does two things for me:

1) Reminds me to do better.

2) Reminds me of the dangers of tallying up guilty acts. So quickly they become an avalanche that no human could ever climb their way out from under.

These two facts do not cancel one another out.


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Tupac's Changes is Still Very Good and (Very Unfortunately) Relevant

I recently listened to Tupac's Changes for the first time in a very long while.

When this song came out it was the age of dubbing songs off the radio onto a blank tape, and I would fully sit and wait at the radio, ready for them to play this one so I could tape it. I distinctly remember listening to it over and over on my walkman while rollerblading around a campground where my family was on vacation.

Despite being a person who is big into lyrics, I never really learned anything beyond the chorus to this particular song, though. (A chorus I still instinctively quote: whenever someone says "that's just the way it is," I can't help but reply "some things will never change.")

This time, I heard the words. Effffff, friends. Listening to this song that I associate with carefree summer vacations and realizing that it's really about racism, police brutality, and cycles of poverty and that it is STILL horribly relevant today? That's a thing.


CHANGES
by Tupac (ft. Talent)

I see no changes, wake up in the morning and I ask myself
Is life worth livin'? Should I blast myself?
I'm tired of bein' poor and, even worse, I'm black
My stomach hurts so I'm lookin' for a purse to snatch
Cops give a damn about a negro
Pull the trigger, kill a n***a, he's a hero
"Give the crack to the kids, who the hell cares?
One less hungry mouth on the welfare"
First ship 'em dope and let 'em deal to brothers
Give 'em guns, step back, watch 'em kill each other
"It's time to fight back," that's what Huey said
Two shots in the dark, now Huey's dead
I got love for my brother
But we can never go nowhere unless we share with each other
We gotta start makin' changes
Learn to see me as a brother instead of two distant strangers
And that's how it's supposed to be
How can the Devil take a brother if he's close to me? Uh
I'd love to go back to when we played as kids
But things change, and that's the way it is

(Come on, come on)
That's just the way it is (Changes)
Things'll never be the same
That's just the way it is (That's the way it is, what?)
Aww, yeah-yeah (Hear me)
(Oh my, oh my, come on, come on)
That's just the way it is (That's just the way it is, the way it is)
Things'll never be the same
(Never be the same, yeah, yeah, yeah, aww, yeah)
That's just the way it is (Way it is)
Aww, yeah (Come on, come on)

I see no changes, all I see is racist faces
Misplaced hate makes disgrace to races
We under, I wonder what it takes to make this
One better place, let's erase the wasted
Take the evil out the people, they'll be actin' right
'Cause both black and white are smokin' crack tonight
And the only time we chill is when we kill each other (Kill each other)
It takes skill to be real, time to heal each other
And although it seems heaven-sent
We ain't ready to see a black president, uh (Oh-ooh)
It ain't a secret, don't conceal the fact
The penitentiary's packed and it's filled with blacks
But some things will never change (Never change)
Try to show another way, but you stayin' in the dope game (Ooh)
Now tell me, what's a mother to do?
Bein' real don't appeal to the brother in you (Yeah)
You gotta operate the easy way
"I made a G today," but you made it in a sleazy way
Sellin' crack to the kids (Oh-oh), "I gotta get paid" (Oh)
Well hey, well that's the way it is

(Come on, come on)
That's just the way it is (Changes)
Things'll never be the same
That's just the way it is (That's the way it is, what?)
Aww, yeah (Hear me)
(Oh my, oh my, come on, come on)
That's just the way it is (That's just the way it is, the way it is)
Things'll never be the same
(Never be the same, yeah, yeah, yeah, aww, yeah)
That's just the way it is (Way it is)
Aww, yeah (Aww, yeah, aww, yeah)

We gotta make a change
It's time for us as a people to start makin' some changes
Let's change the way we eat
Let's change the way we live
And let's change the way we treat each other
You see, the old way wasn't workin'
So it's on us to do what we gotta do to survive

And still I see no changes, can't a brother get a little peace?
It's war on the streets and the war in the Middle East (Ooh, yeah)
Instead of war on poverty
They got a war on drugs so the police can bother me
And I ain't never did a crime I ain't have to do
But now I'm back with the facts, givin' it back to you (Ooh)
Don't let 'em jack you up, back you up
Crack you up and pimp-smack you up
You gotta learn to hold your own
They get jealous when they see you with your mobile phone
But tell the cops they can't touch this
I don't trust this, when they try to rush, I bust this
That's the sound of my tool, you say it ain't cool
My mama didn't raise no fool (Oh)
And as long as I stay black, I gotta stay strapped
And I never get to lay back
'Cause I always got to worry 'bout the payback
Some buck that I roughed up way back
Comin' back after all these years
"Rat-a-tat-tat-tat-tat," that's the way it is

That's just the way it is (Just the way it is, yeah, yeah, yeah)
Things'll never be the same (Yeah)
That's just the way it is (The way it is)
Aww, yeah (Some things will never change, oh my)
(I'm tryna make a change)
(You're my brother, you're my sister, yeah)
That's just the way it is (The way it is, the way it is)
Things'll never be the same (You're my brother, you're my sister)
That's just the way it is, aww, yeah
Some things'll never change


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Accountability

"Accountability feels like an attack when you're not ready to acknowledge how your behaviour harms others."
- Tamara Renaye

(I am pretty sure this applies to all of us at different points in our lives!)


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Stopping Time

A photo of a mountainside with fog completely obscuring the top half and dark trees visible underneath. The result is an appearance of mystery, foreboding, or fading into obscurity.
Photo by Jose Fontano.

Renowned theatre director Daniel Brooks has been living with stage four lung cancer (stage four is the last stage) for two years.

In an interview on CBC's q, he talks about the real-life moment that forced him to face his pending loss of time while on vacation in a spot he had gone every single year with friends.

"I looked at the water shimmering in the light and I thought, 'This may be the last time I look at this', and I realized I couldn’t do anything with that. So what if it was the last time? How does that help me? What am I going to …? How am I going …? I can’t lock it away. I can’t own it. I can’t … I can’t do anything with this moment other than be in it. And that revelation at that time has been an enormous aid to me in the ensuing almost two years now since I’ve been diagnosed.”

I love this.

We can't lock it away.

We can't own anything.

Whether we know we have a limited amount of time left or not, literally the only thing we can do is live in the moments we have.

(This interview and quote brought into my life by Vancouver-based theatre critic Colin Thomas' newsletter. It is an excellent read if you are into theatre, creation, or ideas.)


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I Have a Theory




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I Am Writing This Instead of Yelling At Twitter

(NOTE: The author of the tweet in question has made their entire account private since I wrote this post! Sorry you can't go through and see the whole thread.)

I read a Twitter thread and it really annoyed me and so I am going to unpack it here.

This is the first tweet:



He goes on, over way too many tweets that I am kind of embarrassed I took the time to read and then review for the sake of a rebuttal that he will never see nor care about but I need to get off my chest, to describe how the job of parenting is a burden and people who don't have kids get to live in blissful ignorance to this and yet children are needed for society to continue so... privilege.

Here's where he has a point:

1) Raising kids is really hard work, and seems to have gotten harder as the years go on and we learn more and more about the 'best' ways to raise kids. Also, parents often feel alone, isolated, and unsupported in this hard work and that's a very real problem.

2) The patriarchy means that this work still mostly goes to women. This is also a very real problem.

3) We may feel a love for our pets that seems akin to love for children, but ultimately, pets are not children.

4) Just because people often choose parenting doesn't make it easier.

Great. That's out of the way.

Here's where he is effing ANNOYING:

1) The whole choice thing. Yes, procreation is necessary to the furthering of our species, and on an innate, evolutionary level that's probably a big part of your drive to have kids, but really, you wanted kids because you had strong feeeeeelllllliiiiiiiings. (I realize that many people don't feel they have a choice in the matter. This is a problem, for sure.)

2) I don't think privilege generally is a thing you can opt into our out of.

3) Speaking of choice, there are people who can't have kids (by birth or adoption) for a number of reasons who desperately want them. They may have more free time, but they may also live in deep hearbreak. Where does their privilege lie?

4) Parents are, indeed, less happy than their childless/childfree counterparts while their children are young, but then once their kids are adults they are actually much happier than others. So I guess parents with adult children are the ones with privilege???

Masks, But Make it Fashion



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Pandemic Advice That's Really Life Advice

A young woman looking out a partially open window with her hands on the window.
Photo by Elsie Zhong.

One beautiful thing that happened during the pandemic was that everyone suddenly started taking their mental health a little more seriously. The little buffers we built up in our lives that either boosted or helped us ignore our well-being were snuffed out and we were left to stare at our own dang selves. WEIRD. UNCOMFORTABLE.

Cue the avalanche of mental health tips that began circulating around. One such list, that was surprisingly good, came from the City of North Vancouver's Recreation and Culture Department.

There are a few pieces of advice I am trying to carry forward now that life is looking a lot more "normal" where I live.

Give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and a wide berth.
Each person will have moments when they will not be at their best. It is important to move with grace through blow-ups, to not show up to every argument you are invited to, and to not hold grudges and continue disagreements. Everyone is doing the best they can to make it through this.

This connects to the post I wrote towards the beginning of the pandemic about how it was giving me the perspective to deal with micro-rejections.

When life was all topsy-turvy, it may have been easier and more obvious that everyone was struggling and may not be at their best all the time. Turns out, during regular life, struggles also happen and there are also times when we are not a gleaming and pure embodiment of our best selves. I have a wild notion that maybe people require compassion all the time? Including ourselves?

Help others.
Find ways, big and small, to give back to others. Support restaurants, offer to grocery shop, check in with elderly neighbors, write psychological wellness tips for others—helping others gives us a sense of agency when things seem out of control.

As the pandemic has morphed into a fight for racial justice, helping others is even more key.

It's easy to feel like the problems are too big and we can't really make a difference, but even small (but concrete) acts of help can go a long way. Not only does it provide the aforementioned sense of agency, but it connects our lives to something and gives us meaning! (Also, it helps other people and I bet they appreciate it.)

Find something you can control, and control the heck out of it.
In moments of big uncertainty and overwhelm, control your little corner of the world. Organize your bookshelf, purge your closet, put together that furniture, and group your toys. It helps to anchor and ground us when the bigger things are chaotic.

I may make my new motto, "when you don't know what to do, organize a closet."

Remind yourself daily that this is temporary.
It seems in the midst of this quarantine that it will never end. It is terrifying to think of the road stretching ahead of us. Please take time to remind yourself that although this is very scary and difficult, and will go on for an undetermined amount of time, it is a season of life and it will pass. We will return to feeing free, safe, busy, and connected in the days ahead.

The pandemic isn't the only thing that's temporary. Everything is temporary. Maybe reminding yourself of the fullness of this fact gets too big and too scary too fast (life is temporary, a life-sustaining climate is temporary), but on a micro-level it can be very comforting. Everything changes.

Whatever your circumstances right now, they will change. Sometimes, you can help move them along. Other times, you enjoy them while they are around. Other times, they are a weight you bear for a time. Yet other times, you both keep changing, but in a way that keeps you together.


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