Write as if you were dying

“Write as if you were dying”. Annie Dillard’s advice (The Writing Life, p 68) has echoed in my head since I scribbled it in my notebook yesterday.

writing-life

“What would you begin writing,” she asks. “If you knew you would die soon?”

Yesterday’s answer was: I don’t know.

Today’s answer is shaded by the news of he-wh0-shall-not-be-named’s immigration ban. My mind keeps casting for a flicker of hope or relief. The hook comes up emptyemptyempty.

What would you write if sanity and morality were dying in your world, leaving good people gasping, upside down, like fish in a poisoned lake?

What the fuck can I say in the face of that?

Tweet. RT.

#resist #notmypresident #imanimmigrant

Someone, Natalie Goldberg maybe, said if you can ask a question you can answer it. Fine.

If I were dying, I’d write about not knowing where I belong. I’d write about the rain and the pine trees. I’d write about riding the old red Routemaster bus from Finchley Road to the Strand. I’d write about the nights drinking on Old Compton Street, and the Weatherspoons on Charing Cross Road. I’d write about making boots out of pink acrylic fur and wearing them to hard house raves beneath the arches at London Bridge. I’d write about buying Andy a Kinder Egg for Easter and watching him repair his trainers with superglue. I’d write about waiting for hours for a minute of conversation with Will; about the night he bought me a bottle of champagne in a drafty club in Elephant & Castle. I’d write about how extraordinary the stars are in southern Idaho, miles from the nearest town; and how the Nevada desert doesn’t look real beneath the pearly light of the full moon. I’d write about how the air smells at night in Ibiza and the whorled trucks of ancient olive trees. I’d write about the ribbon-like roads of the Amalfi Coast and the way the wind topples turquoise waves into streamers of white foam on the Mayan Riviera. I’d write about learning to taste wine and chargrill aubergines. I’d write about the dead men who make me grind my teeth. I’d write about feeling lost. I’d write about the books that shaped me, the ones I turn to for comfort. I’d write about being a god-fearing child and agnostic adult. I’d write that the most important thing in the world is being able to walk away. Then I’d contradict myself and say the most important thing is to know when to say.

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Amalfi Coast, Italy

What I’d be trying to say, through all of it, is I don’t know. Maybe you do. Maybe someone does. But me? Nope. Not a clue. I don’t know what it means to be here, to be me. I don’t know what picture the pieces make. All the memories and experiences, all the fun and all the disasters, all the friendships and the distance.

This is where I should trot out a pithy homily and – zi-zang!- all will be clear. But it’s not that kind of day; arguably, as of today, we don’t live in that kind of world. There are no pat explanations or obvious answers. All I know is that we have a fundamental human obligation to treat each other with care and respect. Everything else — our histories, preferences, quirks, interests, opinions — are inconsequential compared to this single, immense obligation. The only question any more is What can I do to help?

Support: Amnesty International Support: Human Rights Watch Support: ACLU

 

 

Resist List

A shitstorm’s a’coming, America, and it is tempting to sit like a rabbit in the headlights of 24/7 all-you-can-eat-non-stop-over-the-top media madness. It is easy to feel helpless as a bunny in front of a bazooka. Which is what They want. They want good people to be frightened, disempowered, anxious, depressed, fatalistic. They get us that way by generating global drama to distract us from the simple business of living in our own skin.

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Do your damnedest

Who has time to help a neighbour, volunteer, or read a book when THE END IS NIGH?

Not us, if They can help it.

Let’s call out that lie. Let’s insist on the value and validity of our lives. Let’s resist by doing small things to help, encourage, support, and contribute to our community.

Resistance comes in all shapes, sizes and creeds. Environmental activism, visiting the elderly, leading a youth group, donating to an animal shelter. It’s all good. It all matters. Every small act of care for a sentient being is a pebble in Goliath’s eye.

Here’s my resist list. What’s yours?

resist1
Stand for something

Tip cash

Cash tips mostly go to servers. Card tips mostly disappear into an accounting black hole. Also, if you’re in the USA, do a quick Google search and check state law on tipping. In Oregon, employers have to pay the full minimum wage, tips are extra. In Tennessee, employers pay as little as $2.13/hour as tips count towards the paltry $7.25/hour minimum wage. If your home state is in a similar situation contact your Representatives & Congress people, and agitate against these oppressive laws that protect bosses.

Buy less/buy second hand

Because A) They want you to be doped on ads, neck-deep in debt and dissatisfied; and
B) Stuff ties you down. Stay free, stay mobile.

Avoid cheap new goods; they are the product of exploitation. As the great Victorian critic John Ruskin pointed out, if something is sold for less the true cost of production, it is stolen. They are also an environmental nightmare. Resell, re-buy, reuse. Craigslist, eBay, Amazon, garage sales, and thrift stores are a good place to start.

Get a library card

library
Read for your rights

Libraries are the perfect place to plot a revolution. Read the books They don’t want you to read. Study. Learn. Connect to worlds of wisdom and possibility.

Exercise

The only proven treatment for depression that has no negative side effects? Exercise.
It also prevents heart disease, diabetes, stroke, dementia, etc etc. They are happy to have a weak, sick, docile population. Stay strong and resist.

Speak

Even if you think it doesn’t affect you. Never forget the words of Martin Niemoller,
a German Protestant minister who spent seven years in Nazi concentration camps:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Listen

To the people you love: because it’s easy to take then for granted,  take out our stress on them, or assume we know them. Ask questions, even if you think you know the answer.

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Be alert

To people you disagree with: antagonism and mutual mistrust is what got us here, it won’t get us out. Let’s none of us build walls.

To people no one else hears: kids, homeless, older, female, coloured… there are a lot of things that get you ignored. Make a conscious effort to give them your ear.

 

Share your Resist List in the comments or Tweet @CilaWarncke your #resistlist