This piece was in response to a friend talking about her overwhelming feelings of anger regarding this pandemic we are in the middle of. It is amazing how much childhood stuff this situation has brought up. There are themes that I have been meaning to explore for a long time – or really – to write about – the exploring has been going on for a lifetime. And before the virus exploded, I was looking at how I want to live my life (as I do constantly) and thought I might finally be strong enough to write the memoir – or at least fiction based on real life. Anyway – here was my response.
This is so beautiful. I am having a hard time right now putting into words my anger and my terror. Your determination to stand up is helping me immensely right now. Your story is so well-written, I feel like I can be standing with you and feeling it.
The anger I feel is so big it is hard to breathe. I think I need to dive into it – writing is so helpful. Today I am going to get on my bike and ride up to Elden Lookout road and see how far I can go (it’s likely very muddy, so it may not be far). Nature is a big reset for me. Then, the writing.
My partner will not stop talking about the New World Order and it feels like being strangled. He is angry. It’s a powerless feeling turning over your power to a failed system. I understood that at such a young age, but to be reminded of it over and over again is making my heart hurt. At first I thought he was trying to get me to understand his point of view – but I think he just needs to vent. His perspective, and some of his political points of view are so different from mine, so male – even though we come to the same conclusion. This is a weird dance, he is such a loving, feeling sensitive man – he loves the world, he is hurting for the world. It’s hard to see him so full of hurt.
This morning I said to him, I fell out of the practice of my affirmations and envisioning my future, and all the tools I have for making big change in my life. Things are big right now – and now is the time to use the tools. I was living the life I wanted, making all those paintings, and making music – being in bands. And just as I released the paintings and I was ready to shift my focus back to more teaching and music, the pandemic hit. I have to get back into looking at how I want my world to be while simultaneously dealing with this day-to-day stuff. Having no vision for the future is crushing. I can’t give in to the uncertainty of it all – I have to believe that I am, that I can, create my future.
I have done so much work around money and feelings of self-worth and love. And it really feels like a test right now. Especially since I decided to change how I earn money – through art and music and teaching. I was pretty much squeezed out of the university anyway, so I took my chance. Every single gig has been canceled – even out until June. Working through the anxiety to put the new creative ideas around money into action has been difficult. Each day I feel a little stronger, but what once took me 30 minutes now takes me two hours.
I know I am not alone in this.
I don’t want to be homeless. That is probably my biggest secret fear. Figuring out what home even means has been the struggle of my lifetime.
I am definitely reliving what it was like to live on the streets – when I was 16/17 years old I was a squatter living in an abandoned building on the Lower East Side of New York. You figure out how to survive no matter what. I don’t ever want to go back there, but I remember getting the distinct feeling that living on the streets was preparing me for something to come. Eck. I learned where to find food, which restaurants would throw away their leftovers packed in foil, where to find water to bathe with, which bars were friendly to underage kids (sometimes staying there til closing just to be warm), how to negotiate my way out of danger, when to stay quiet and when to speak up, how to avoid violence. It was a very black and white world, one where fear is so rock bottom that you have no choice but to become fearless.
By the time I was 14, I was well aware that authority figures would fail me. I was on my own. This is something I’ve wanted to write about for a long time – but could not do because it hurt too much. And just before this outbreak, I was saying, I think I am ready. And reading your story – I realize – yes – I think one of the things that will get us through is our stories.
Wow – well, I didn’t think I was going to write that much. Just that your story is so moving and powerful. You are powerful. And I am grateful for your story and your courage.
I keep reminding myself to ask – what’s the gift? There is definitely the gift of going deep (no choice?), getting real, and looking fear and anger directly in the eye and allowing it’s expression by asking – what have you got?
So much love and gratitude!
3 thoughts on “What have you got?”
What a powerful response letter that is now a letter to yourself toolbox that I see clearly coming out and naturalizing like perennials in your work, and in the H & P music duo videos.
I was on a call the other day, and one of the people expressed to someone else how risky it was to step out on your own in these uncertain times. I couldn’t help it. I started laughing, and it just built and built. I was just so tickled. One indicated, “This is no laughing matter, Jordan.” I came back, “Ohhhhhh, it sure is. 1st, ‘in these uncertain times’? Really? Times are always uncertain, the uncertainty may just clouded out and its constancy and intensity blurred by habits doing their best to erode it. 2nd, Google, Amazon, and Apple were all started in a downturn or Recession. Maybe you’ve heard of them?
There’s no better time than the present, though the current present is the best time I’ve seen for easily seeing ourselves stripped down to what we really at heart and base value and want to do.
“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn’t really matter.” ~ D.L. Moody
I feel now is a grand time to be honest with ourselves through and through as you wonderfully were in your letter, and by doing so we can each then begin/continue to take action steps to bring into being those valuable things from the heart that make the world a better place to live in, AND that also support us so we can do more of that.
On a side note. About your memoir or novel or book. If I frame this experience like I’m sitting in a movie theater about to watch an epic… the expansive John Barry or James Horner epic landscape music starts. As I swim into the screen and look out over all this natural majesty, the narrator, she begins reading your letter. It feels to be a quick-sketch of starting a movie? — from the book?
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“There’s no better time than the present, though the current present is the best time I’ve seen for easily seeing ourselves stripped down to what we really at heart and base value and want to do.” – YES!
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What really annoys me about this whole Covid-19 thing is that I believe the media and governments are over sensationalizing the issue intentionally to cause panic, and then they try to act like they are to ones who can solve everything. WHO reports 294,110 confirmed cases worldwide and 12,944 confirmed deaths from Covid-19. There have been 15,219 confirmed cases in the USA so far. According to the CDC’s website, the number of cases of Influenza A & B in the 40th week after September 29, 2019, has been 231,654. I didn’t see a report on deaths from Influenza A & B during that period. However, looking at the annual data, in 2018/19 there were 35,520,883 confirmed cases of Influenza A & B responsible for 34,157 deaths. That’s in the US alone. According to one map, other countries’ Influenza A & B rates and deaths each year are much higher than the US. The press and the governments should have acted sensibly and responsibly, but they didn’t, so now they are unnecessarily ruining people’s lives.