I am going to confess, right up front today, that last night I had a setback and spent several hours reading news from all of my favorite news sites. I also ate some chocolate ice cream. I watched some Star Trek. I also cried.
Asking people to tell me about the news, instead of reading it, felt like it was working for me. This was until a colleague come into my office at the university to ask me for help in creating a solution for a student who is from Iraq but hasn’t lived there since she was 4 years old and has no family there to keep her safe if she is deported when her student visa expires. I didn’t get many details about the situation, I just provided what answers I could about what I thought was possible and let my colleague get on with their efforts.
So, this is the “reality” of trying to focus on keeping things real. There is a real young woman who I have really passed in the hallways who will face real consequences from US government policy changes.
Earlier in the day, I had a conversation with another colleague about the limits teaching of social responsibility to students who think that sharing a post about factory conditions in Bangladesh is “action”. We talked about examples in the news of people who are brave enough to risk being fired for standing up for what they believe is right and how that is social responsibility. We wondered how far we were willing to go.
I really want my future self to read this and feel what I am feeling now. The deep ache, like an illness, the waves of panic and fear as I consider where in the world is safe because I don’t feel safe here anymore. Reminding myself that “they” want me to cry, that “they” want me to be afraid isn’t always enough to straighten my spine. My mind skitters through scenarios that my imagination creates for me. Selling my beloved house at a loss when the coming the Second Civil War means I have to leave Texas for the safety of a free state. Figuring out how to get my wife, who can’t fly due to a medical condition, safely to Ireland, the closest flight to Europe from my home. Wondering how long Canada will resist the pernicious forces sweeping our country.
Howl, howl, howl, howl.
And then I turn back to my resolve to make a space in my life for the rest of the real world.
While Netflix doesn’t have as much as I would like in the arts, Amazon Instant Video is giving me some new things to consider. This morning I enjoyed the documentary on the Hudson River School of Painting that is streaming but also available for sale as a disc.
Having seen the Northern Lights last March in the Faroe Islands, I was struck by this painting, Aurora Borealis by Frederic Church, that is now exhibited in the Smithsonian Art Museum. I will put this on my list of paintings to visit the next I am in Washington DC
I was interested to see the similarities to a painting I completed last winter. I am so interested to see how I approached the challenge in some of the same ways.