I never thought of myself as an idealist, but I have always very strongly held to the idea that things can and should and must be better, have to be just and right. And lately I find myself wondering, do you reach a point in life where you let that go?
These days, I am finding it increasingly difficult to believe in and hope for the most and the best in others and the world and have these ideals met, and it's painful. Not in every situation or with everyone, of course. There are amazing people in my life and amazing things happening. But I live in a country, in a world, where life is pretty raw, and I wonder: Do I have to stop expecting and demanding and hoping for the most from everyone, because it might just run me into the ground if people keep failing to live up? Do I agree with that? Is it okay? Would it somehow make me a sellout? Because it feels like a very uncomfortable idea to me. I simply don't want to expect less, or demand less. I just don't want to. Things should be right and just, because they should be. And everyone's voice should be heard and people should be empowered and participation and consensus should be the base of decision-making and human dignity and relationships...
But I also don't want to burn out at twenty-six.
Its weighing heavily—the balance between speaking truth to power and for justice, and taking care of ourselves and our loved ones and being able to continue doing the work that we love and believe in so much. People get fired or persecuted or worse for speaking up, and many times, people can't speak up because, well, putting food on the table, paying rent, student loans are all a reality. And if we do risk it all and speak up, and our voices are not heard, are lost in translation, are quieted or ignored, are written off as too young or too woman or too brown, and we lose whatever platform we had to work for justice?
And on the other hand, how can we not speak up for justice and for what is right, for people who have been wronged?
My convictions don't want to let me expect less, or accept things I don't agree with, or not speak out, but more and more, I see—and feel—the importance of picking my battles and choosing (as much as I can) to dedicate my time and energy to the things I feel are most valuable. And try to leave the rest.
The importance of, and the need for.
I dig my suegra. We're just getting to know each other, but she is an incredibly wise, patient, and kind woman. And giving. After talking about wanting her children to fly, at any cost to herself—which she certainly has achieved—she said something about getting what you expect, how your thoughts or perceptions define what you encounter. If you expect the worst, thats what you'll most likely get. And if you expect the best? Well, maybe you won't get it, but maybe, just maybe, things will seem a little sunnier.
So is it all about our choices? I'm not that existentialist, but maybe focusing more on the positive, the things that are working, the projects that have an impact, however small, the things that add drops of water to my bucket, that put a smile on my face or on someone else's, will help me not only get through the day, but thrive.
With so many people that don't have the privilege to thrive here, it can seem unfair. But wanting the best for ourselves does not have to mean accepting injustice. I want to give the most I can, and for that, I have to be well. And in a world where things aren't always the way we'd like them to be—just—I have to be able to be well facing adversity. And I can't do that focusing only on violence and oppression and injustice. (One of the things we talk about in coescucha is wanting to best for everyone, and that includes ourselves. Everyone should have the right and the space and the ability to celebrate their lives, as well as face adversity. So I should celebrate mine.)
So maybe the most realistic question for me, today: What can I do, from where I am, right here, right now? Sitting in my floppy-backed, nearly cushion-less wheely chair with the mosquitoes making a feast of my legs and arms, with many disappointments and frustrations and deceptions, it is important to name the incredible gifts I have: a family who has fought hard to achieve in life, and continues to do so to achieve their dreams; a partner who makes me sing and dance and love and have my own dreams; an inspiring, powerful boss and role model; a group of strong and brave women that support me (coescucha, generations one and two, and many others), communities that fight and organize and have amazing patience for change; freedom to sculpt my work and grow and a curious brain to fill with knowledge and experience.
This life is not just beauty and support and community and lucha, and the violence and injustice and structural oppression are raw and obvious everywhere you turn here. It is important to feel that and recognize it and name it, and deal with it and desahogar. But along with the challenges, why not focus on the achievements, choose to place our emphasis and energy on the positive? When I sit down at the dinner table, why not ask the love of my life what was good about his day, and share what was good about mine, too. Why not dream the little dreams for today and tomorrow, celebrate the little achievements, recognizing our power and ability to make those happen, and try, try, to let the rest roll off. Be stronger and happier and have more to give. And send that buena vibra, that positive energy, out into the world.
Easier said than done. But why not try?
Millions of questions. Answers, anyone?