There is so much in the world to see. To explore, to notice. My slow ease back into international travel has characterized this year. I have missed traveling and my friends in other countries. I love getting outside of my usual spaces because it’s always a learning opportunity. A reminder to change perspective or angle. So often we get stuck in what’s in front of us, that we’re unable to see beyond it.
This year was the year where I think we all got a bit stuck (as a country) and tried to pretend that covid was over (I didn’t but I saw and felt it). An epistemic harm, if there ever was one. Pushed into trying to believe that we could all just get back to ‘normal’. We forgot all of those lessons that the pandemic taught us, and tried to either rewind back to 2019 or squeeze our out-of-date designs into 2019 expectations. Which did a lot of harm. To people, to earth, to place.
We just forgot people were grieving, for all sorts of losses that we have collectively accumulated. Made to work, and put even more pressure on people without acknowledging many of us were missing loved ones, in big numbers. That we had changed, even if our systems refused to do so too.
This was brought home, even more, when we lost our friend, mentor, and colleague in August. Adding more grief on top of grief. So many questions. He promised me he’d help re-plant trees after our climate change wildfire in July. Now every time I plant something – I think of Peter. He is still dearly missed.
I surfed to find breath, feel power in my body and clear my mind. I got to surf in both the Pacific and Atlantic. I watched for patterns in the landscape and worlds around me. Tides, sunlight, moon phases, soil types, weather forecasts, growing almanacs, and more.
But what I noticed was that I, and many others, started to grow things – as a way to put our grief and anxieties into healing and growing. Feel soil under our finger nails. We are, after all, made from stars and dark matter – of carbon & minerals that make up soil – the ground that we work upon and will return to at the end of our lives. All connected.
I find myself now looking for plants and life every where. I notice this as I look back through my photos from San Francisco and see that 75% of them are of plants just growing on sidewalks, and ocean waves and sand dunes. This was my 6th trip to SF & I had never appreciated, or even seen, the flora as I do now.
It is through planting, growing, thinking about the earth and our connections and patterns around me that I see in nearly everything I did and trying to do this year. And these small revelations and actions have kept me going.
To live long enough in this world means to learn to nestle the twins of grief and hope. There is climate change, there is too much poverty, and death, but there is also hope, love and a fierce will to fight for our earth and justice for people who need it right now.
As I walk and work in the shadows of grief I am surprised that, whilst at times it hits me like a massive wave unexpectedly, it has given me strength, perspective, and clarity. There is power in the inbetweenness, it reminds me of the things that are really important and that every day is a gift and an opportunity towards something better.
I am determined that in the next year to come, we will feel & allow to be with our grief. But we will also transform life’s interruptions into creative grist, transmute isolation into creative solitude and connection, and with each pen stroke, cup of coffee, garden planted, each story listened to – we will better understand the world and our place in it.