DM Philips

Seeking Maps At The End Of The World

DM Philips
Seeking Maps At The End Of The World

After the initial wave of terror and fury, my post-election tactic has mostly been dissociation. Out of safety, out of self-protection.

I know that ignoring these truths won't save me- that I need to engage, to stand in solidarity with the homies- with the scientists- with the immigrants and children of immigrants- with the Muslims- with the Mexicans- with the queers- with the artists.. but something about the way the ancestral parts of my bloodstream are set up- something matrilineally coded in my mitochondria- if perhaps just fear and experiences of fear- have unfurled red 'danger!' flags inside me and I feel paralyzed.

I wonder if my ancestors were warriors. I wonder if they feared for the future. They must have been tenacious, to survive this warring world, to birth generations amidst the shrapnel of men, to cross oceans and miscegenate. I wonder if they were defiant.

I just sat glassy-eyed, scrolling my newsfeed for 20 minutes, totally overcome by anxiety. I am more comfortable zoomed out- knowing and believing that this shit is so temporary- that god sees what is happening, that she has eyes on us and has it figured out- that this is all part of some curious, divine master plan to wake us up from our sleepwalking and forgetfulness. The Obama administration had lulled us to sleep and now we've been jolted painfully into awareness. That’s a good thing…

But it hurts. To know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this hatred, which has always existed, still exists. To be unavoidably reminded that this ignorance not only lives among us- but can assume the ranks of highest political power on a platform of xenophobia and foolishness and warmongering and ego.

That regardless of who won the popular vote- 62 million people still voted for a despicable human being, a vitriolic megalomaniac who justifies their hatred and their fear. 62 million people are bequeathing their children their mess. There are no words for how disgusted I am by this remedial reality.

The only things that make me feel better are smoking cigarettes listening to the birds behind my house, watching Planet Earth, cooking big pots of pasta, and laughing with my friends. Perhaps that is enough of a resistance strategy. Perhaps the birds- and creation- and making something out of nothing- and experiencing joy surrounded by black and brown and queer brilliance- are so far removed from what's accessible to those 62 million that they can save me.

Perhaps there is a bubble somewhere where I can sleep through this and somehow still be useful. Perhaps midwifery will be enough. Perhaps writing will. Perhaps my tears and my laughter and my outrage will be recorded in my mitochondria, and be passed on to my unborn daughter or granddaughter or great-great-granddaughter, who in the future will have sudden, shocking realizations that reverberate and pulse through her- that wake her up from her sleep- reminders that she is not alone- that this isn't the first time we've traveled through horror together- that this isn't the first time we've survived, together. 

 

That this isn't everything. 

That there is also beauty. 

 

And beauty is not a distraction- nor is it a salve. Beauty is a map. Just like anger and grief are maps- paying attention to tiny beautiful things, believing they will redeem us- makes us different from them. Makes us wiser, and gentler, and more tender. Less quick to react.

Although our outrage is justified- it is actually gentleness that will save our kind. Our capacity to build what has been destroyed- to lay tiny seeds in the earth so delicately- to cradle our babies and sing them sweet victory songs- to stir big pots of soup that will feed everyone crowding our homes- all the scientists and artists and queers and Mexicans and Muslims and women and immigrants and children of immigrants and outcasts and brown people and black people and indigenous people- all the survivors giggling and jostling for space- it is our gentleness that will save our kind. 

 

Amiri Baraka once asked: I am mean and angry and scared- do I have the capacity for grace?

 

Do I have the capacity for grace?

Do I have the capacity for grace? 

 

May our ancestors never wonder whether we were defiant.