This week, I'm all emotion.
I want to weep—for all that's beautiful and broken in the world; for the disappointments and the satisfactions, and how they rub together, wearing each other down, all day long; for the love and the contempt that exist like facts, even though each is a choice (like facts, choice feels like a funny, untenable thing these days)—because this year is ending and I feel an unspecific yet pervasive sadness.
The mourning doves seem to understand something I've barely figured out for myself: how to spend these short, frozen days in the best, most deliberate way possible. Late morning and they're taking their turn at the feeder in my parents' backyard, sometimes relaxing into the catch dish as though nesting—until a couple chubby snow buntings flit about, anxious for breakfast, or the resident blue jay swoops in and everyone scatters. Once they've claimed their fill, the mourning doves are onto other things—specifically, sunning themselves in cozy groups of six or seven under the rhododendron. Like the shadow on a sundial, they move from one patch of the yard to the next as the hours pass, never looking like much more than round, speckled rocks in the garden bed...until they adjust their wings, edge purposefully to wherever is the new sunniest spot, or take another stab at the feeder.
Sustenance, light, and company. A winter survival guide.
The writer, Steve Edwards, tweeted last week, "Taking care of each other is also subversive."
Subversive, not because it's disruptive or inflammatory; subversive because it's truly revolutionary. Because it's the least expected and most radical modus operandi in a divided country (which, by the day, is looking more and more like a divided world).
Taking care of each other.
If you google the phrase, you'll find a trove of thumbnails of people, even animals—all exhibiting some variation of holding hands, wrapping their arms around each other, leaning in so that their faces nearly touch.
'Taking care' looks different for different people. You can trust yourself to make the right call, to know what's needed for whom and when.
In the past week, I've noted a whole slew of ways that folks are taking care of each other. There's an annual baking bonanza in a Pacific Northwest home (flick through her feed; she made ALL OF THOSE in the span of, what? A week?!), a service project that involves celebrating the handiwork of local artisans, a meaningful conversation a mother has with her kids about a really abstract but important concept, and more. It's all lifting me up from my sadness, which makes me wonder if taking care of each other might actually be a beautifully (and rather unexpectedly) exponential action. If you take care of her or him—and seeing that heals my heart in some way—your decision to take care had a much greater impact than you could've imagined. Your taking care restored my faith in Goodness.
What I'm learning is that every act of love is part of social change. You are improving society by improving life for even one person. Don't undersell your heart's best work. (I promise I'll try not to undersell mine, either.)
If you follow me on Instagram, you'll already know this—but the past two weeks, I've been photographing my brother's old bedroom. I've always known this room; it's nothing new. And yet... These days, perhaps the difference is in not simply looking, but in actually seeing.