Friday, October 09, 2009

the personal IS political

Today feels hard. Though it is beautiful outside, I am plagued with thoughts of the world around me, those in war torn nations and those fighting the wars of ideology and international finance dictated to them by those in power. I am thinking of those without healthcare, as I wheeze my way through another fall day. I am thinking of NASA spending millions (billions?) of dollars doing whatever it is they did to the moon this morning, and how, though I do believe in space exploration and I know that the moon was not "bombed" per se, I also don't believe in, say, mountain top removal. The essence of these great rocks circulating through our solar system, I believe, is greater than lifeless dust.

But I diverge, which I guess is the point. There is so much to think about, so much to be concerned about, and I am overwhelmed by my desire to do "right" in the world, and beyond. So, I need to reconvene here, get perspective, and simplify. I can't do it all, and there will always be problems that need fixing, issues needing to be resolved, and everything in life simply isn't and won't be perfect. But I can do my part and find peace in that. Hence, this poem I write earlier this year.

And yes, I hung the laundry today, three loads of heavy towels, sheets, jeans, and sweatshirts, in this indescribably gorgeous fall weather, and it made me feel good.

The Personal is Political

Picture this:
Homework deadlines,
dishes to do,
dogs need walking,
plus the job,
the kids,
the constant everyday crises &
there I stand, feet planted firmly on the ground,
sun shining warmly on my skin,
as I pull each freshly washed piece from my laundry basket,
shake it crisply with a snap,
then clip it to the line.
Instead of quickly zapping our clothes dry with fossil fuels &
electricity spewed from burning coal
I stand in the sun,
move my body,
breathe clean air &
hang my laundry to dry.

I shop at the French Broad Food Co-op,
unionized labor, member-owned & full of food that’s locally grown &
organic products that do not poison the water & soil shared by all.
I purchase dried beans & grains from bulk bins
that use less packaging & less fuel to transport
than convenient, hydrated foods in steel cans.

I don’t use bags crafted from petroleum or trees to carry my goods
I’ve used the same canvas totes to haul groceries for fifteen years &
If I forget those bags I don’t fret
‘cause I’ve got two strong arms & can transport, if I must,
One apple at a time from my cart to a backpack, a bike rack, or car
to take my goods home.

I wear the hair on my legs & in my pits that god grew there
Not just because I think it is a fanatic beauty standard that women must be clean shorn, rather I choose never to give my money to corporations that
profit from enforcing that beauty standard &
are responsible for our throwing
tens of millions of pink plastic razors into landfills every day.

I remember one day in elementary school as I claimed my food from the lunch line,
An older woman, the proverbial lunch lady stopped me, and she told me that
I was the only child who came through her line every day and said, “Thank you,”
for the food she put on my plate,
This woman, my grandmother’s age
who worked tirelessly for a minimum wage
She told me that I made her feel good,

To this day I remember her lesson, and now
I raise my sons to be boys who say, “Please” and “Thank you,”
I raise sons who will be the kind of men I want to know in this world,
Sons who are sensitive, aware, able to do dishes & laundry & cook their own food,
Sons who ask questions about why gender differences are so important to some people,
Sons who are outraged by military training camps & inform their peers why they
should help shut down the SOA.

And this year I have been spending a lot of time & energy
studying & training.
I have had to sacrifice time with friends & family,
I have been missing parties & festivals & poetry
staying up late with books in my lap
to learn this new skill,
follow a new career path
that will allow me to serve humanity,
to empower others & ease suffering as my profession,
rather than seeking to earn my living from work that could
pollute or alienate or cause harm.

If I seem self-righteous I apologize in earnest.
I’m sorry.
It is not my goal to make others feel self-conscious for the choices they make,
only to bring our collective awareness to the truth that is
We make choices & our choices have consequences.
We can prioritize differently &
You may prioritize differently from me,
but as long as you make choices consciously
You are contributing to the kind of world in which you want to live.

Every kind word you do or don’t say,
Every cent you spend,
Every thread of clothes you wear,
Every bite of food you eat,
How you earn your dough &
Where you choose to go
Ripple their impact
through our fragile, vulnerable globe,
And I am just trying to spend most of my time kicking only pebbles into that pond &
Speaking out against those who launch boulders.

(The picture below is what my laundry hanging mechanism actually looks like...)


Anonymous said...

I love to hang my laundry too. Can't hear the phone. The world seems simple.
I've been hanging it in the cellar for the last month because of the rain and it definitely has a much gloomier vibe.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post!

Bold Strokes said...

I love that poem. You have a great sense of the reader, and your poetry has a message. A lot for me to ponder, yet so simple. Excellent.