by Nance Klehm for arthurmag.com (“homegrown counterculture”)
It’s butt-ass cold outside. What can I do *right now*, inside my home, to move our home and lives closer to an appropriate way of being a human on this planet?
The holidays are over, it’s the New Year, and I don’t know what I’m doing with my life. I think I may be approaching a full-blown Spiritual Emergency. How can I calm down without going on pharmaceuticals?
–Increasingly Nervous Nelly, Jamaica Plains, New York
Nance Klehm says:
Sounds like both of you are talking about feeling potentiality – the first of you feels you’re at the base of a big hill. The other of you is feeling that you are at the top of that hill looking out and figuring out which way to roll down.
I could suggest to start composting your own crap, write someone an ink and paper letter, get to know the trees on the way to work, sing your personal aria while riding your bike, cook a meal with a neighbor, give your lap to a cat… And those are all great things to do, but I actually have further questions for you both.
Do you ask yourself this question on a sunny day in June? How are you relating to your socio-biological environment? What is your conscious intent? What do you consider “human”?
To ‘know that’ is not necessarily to ‘know how’ which is another way of saying that a good theoretician can be a poor practitioner. Practice proceeds from the theory of it. Heck, what are you doing right now to connect to the larger picture you are a part of?
So you have the option to jump now, scroll down to a simple answer or read on for a story about someone I recently met. (Hoobaby! So many choices!)
I had spent the train ride home with my eyes closed planning my 100 FOLKS CRYING IN PUBLIC action (stay tuned, details later) after I was forcibly told to “calm down” by a security officer in a public building. I had been on the pay phone for over 40 minutes talking to one taciturn civil servant after another. I kept getting disconnected and having to wander around the milling public asking if anyone could break my singles for change to begin again. I wanted to scream and the effort to hold it back was immense so I had started crying. When I ignored him, he summoned two other guards and they stood by at arm length just in case anything escalated as I continued on my phone calls. Was it really so interesting or spectacular that you had to call your friends to watch? How many years are we away from a police state? Would it take three men to successfully restrain a frustrated woman? Maybe.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Emotional displays in public spaces can be seen as cause for alarm by authorities.
Now back to the story… I left the train station and hit the icy sidewalk. A scrapper with a mother lode of over-sized, odd-shaped metal bits all stuffed and tied onto a shopping cart clattered up the middle of the street. He looked young, small, his non-pulling arm was swinging clockwork crazy propelling him forward. Hope flew from my chest. I yelled, ‘Right on!’ and he turned and grinned at me and kept going. I started jogging in the slush to keep pace with him.
On the other side of the underpass, he hit a hill. He was straining, his free arm windmilling, his body low to the ground. I stopped dead and the other me asked me, “What the hell are you doing, Nance?!” and I stumbled over the waist high wedge of dirty snow, joined him at the center line and started pushing that cart. At the next stoplight, I moved to the front, imagining myself as the second horse. That’s when I realized that he was a she. “My name is Nini and I want to tell you, this ain’t no dog-eat-dog world,” she said. “People think it is, but it ain’t.” Then the light changed. The cart was heavy and we were breathing the cold air in deeply. Cars from both directions honked and swerved past. A perpetually sour neighbor of mine sped passed, her face screwed tight. “That’s my neighbor” I said. And Nini and I laughed.
I left Nini off at 25th street. She had three blocks to the scrapyard. She was going to make it there before it closed.
And if you haven’t figured it out already, my answer is: Get on the ground and join hands and hearts with the brave.
Questions for Nance:
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