It’s been awhile since I’ve done a plain old blog post on here. To be perfectly honest— I’ve been busy, but also wanting to be quiet for a second. It’s the cold season after all. It’s been a big year of ‘putting things out there’ and doing a lot of extending myself.
With other pressing things at hand like special relationships in my real life that need tending and the care of my camper home that is my primary personal space that lives semi-permanently on my vehicle right now- I’ve needed to let off and look at myself a little bit.
There’s a lot in the air, changing, being talked about and being brought to the surface. It’s really needed, and yet, sometimes I personally just want to listen. I need to listen and not comment, not have ‘something to say’ about it all. I write a lot, and now have a podcast. It’s all very public, up for scrutiny, a reflection of my choices, fears, focuses, and perspectives. The podcast feels like a tricky thing- I want to share, connect ideas and people together but without being overbearing. I fear saying the wrong thing, even though I aim to feature people I might not agree with or other might not agree with at some point. If I’ve learned one big lesson this year, it is that I don’t ‘need’ to help anyone or anything. I just need to take care of myself, offer help but not force it, take it when it is offered and if i want it, say no when it is not the right time, and be my full self and let reciprocal exchange be true and real.
I’ve gotten caught up at times with a kind of savior complex, and I’ve taken a step WAY back from that, even though I thought I was self-aware, and aware of what that could look like, I still miss the boat at times. I am an incredibly sensitive person, and I found myself many times this year simply exhausted and overwhelmed by what I CREATED. No one did it to me, I put myself in a position to be giving too much, by my own choice, without allowing myself to put energy into self care. I put time, energy, and money into others, and then kept myself from simple luxuries like a few nights alone at a wild hot springs or national forest camping spot when I ‘felt’ like I needed to be working constantly in the grid, in the world. I know very well that my mental health and self-care, and ability to ‘give’ anything is dependent on taking time in utter quiet and solitude. It doesn’t even take THAT much. And my best work is made when I take the time to be in solitude, in nature. The crux of my work, is found there, yet I have neglected it.
I think the reality of capitalism, and the reality that I am carving a very untraditional path that is incredibly unknown sets me in a space of feeling like I need to ‘overwork’ and ‘overgive’ to compensate for scheduling my own time and doing work I love.
I also tend to feel like because of my privilege as a white person, that I need to offer a lot of my time and money to others, but the line where leveraging social equity lies is for each of us to determine. The thing is- it has to come from a place of being grounded and having basic needs met, and not from a saviorist perspective. It has to come from a genuine sense of duty to reparations as a normal part of everyday life, not a sense of ‘i can’t give myself anything right now because i’m white shame on me.’ That gets me nowhere. It is besides the point. It then makes me incapable of being a good player in the world- or thoughtfully holding space. It even then puts focus on me, instead of others that need that focus and energy.
I am remembering assisting a friend teach a basket class this summer. I was prompted to help from an elder basket teacher, who said ‘we need more people in basket camp, please help.’ While I had a stink weaving 5-6 years ago, I felt unsure if I was qualified to ‘help.’ I wanted to go to the gathering, see friends and connect with people, and I felt that I could just do my best to remember and help wherever I was most needed. The thing is, the whole time assisting, I felt like I was more of a burden, and not helpful than helpful. While I actually might have been helpful to an extent, my anxiety about ‘not knowing enough’ took up a lot of space. At least I feel that way, and I got that subtle hint from students who gave me feedback: ‘you’re helping us, you talking about how you feel unhelpful is actually what is unhelpful.’ Well how about that. Yeah, sometimes you gotta just let things go. You gotta be imperfect. Externalized projections and expressions of anxiety around social nuances of ‘if I am helping enough or too much’ is precisely the kind of thing that goes unanalyzed and can be problematic.
I think about prioritizing interviews for my podcast this summer every moment of every day- including having three different people rescheduling three different times in a week at one point- and I catering to that constantly changing instead of taking control of my time for myself. I think about how I could have chosen to go to the woods for a few days, alone, instead of keeping on overworking, and overstimulating myself instead of taking a break. Breaks actually create more productivity because they help us think clearly and work from a place of groundedness. At the same time, I am proud of my audio project, my interviews, and the kinds of stories I gathered. I am proud of my work, but I know I could go about how I do my work in a different kind of way.
I know I could also have more confidence. I’ve been instilled with a sense growing up that there is ‘one way’ to live life and be successful, stable and secure. I KNOW that it is an illusion of the current culture we live in and I’ve known this since I was a young child. It is precisely this pressure that keeps us marching towards a cliff of ecological catastrophe that we’re about to clearly walk off of, thinking we’re walking to heaven or thinking that accumulating wealth is equal to enlightenment, when we’re actually turning the literal earth into digital numbers. I’ve always known that things were just NOT right on the surface level. It’s hard to know this and try to do something different, but then take those voices of the mainstream and constantly be reenacting them in my own head. Like for example: “ You’re gonna end up truly homeless if you don’t get a real job.” Or, “If you don’t live in a big giant house you are losing at life.” or “If I don’t practice monogamy and have 2 kids, a dog, a mortgage and power bill and live on land without other humans than I just have my head in the clouds.” There are subtle influences everywhere of these ideas, memes, shadows to follow and emulate. We learn after all by watching others and taking those ideas into ourselves and deciding what to do with them. Artists do this in their own way, people who are neuro-divergent do this in order to learn how to ‘act’ normal in this world even if they feel like that normal is weird or makes so sense at all. It’s self-preservation, yet preservation of the ‘whole’ depends on us as human players in the world taking risks and reaching into the dark unknown for our own version of what feels right. This is never black and white or set in stone, or looking one way forever. We, like everything that exists, constantly evolve.
And with this, my life, projects, creative work, research, writing constantly evolves. The frameworks I have attached to constantly evolve. A good look at my stubbornness, and well as the memes of dominant culture that get louder or softer encourage me to evolve with my reactions to them. What do I choose? How do I embrace life and my work rather than feel weighed down by all the voices that may have something to say about it?
Yet again, listening is important. But being discouraged is a part of that over-giving saviourist thing that I mentioned earlier. Over-giving, and then getting stressed out and taking up space, or over-giving and then feeling self-anxious about if that giving is done right, or over-giving and that giving wasn’t even asked for. There’s a dance, nuance, play in it all. The least I can do is step back, quiet myself, read, write, have privacy and contemplation time.
I’m still doing my thing. I’m still releasing podcasts, still writing plant profiles (albeit I am behind right now- hold your horses), still sharing my member-only writing and work on Patreon, still photographing, drawing and writing about plants and place- but I am working to not over-give right now as to not extend myself to the point of becoming an energetic burden on the world around me. I need to save some energy to make sure I can buy myself a heater for my camper (I just did), make the necessary repairs to stay warm and dry (still working on this daunting task) and actually be able to pay for it, make sure I am making equal energy exchanges with those around me who are giving me help, energy, space, or emotional labor when they don’t have to. Balance is the thing- we’re constantly working to keep balance in all we do. I am realizing that I have been bad at that for a little while now.
With that said, I’m the kind of person that likes to commit to ideas and allow them to have a life of their own and find magic in what that kind of ‘seeing through’ does. I’m doing my work. Like the seasons, things need to ebb and flow. The western culture’s winter ‘holiday spree’ is super counterintuitive to me and I have gotten a little quiet during this time instead of turning things way up. I feel tired of competing to be heard in the social media sphere. I find a kind of peace in being right over here doing my thing and not attaching myself to that madness right now. It’s not worth it, and it feels good to do work despite what attention it gets or who buys what.
SO there ya go, a little update on where my thoughts are lately, which have been super present along side some working with grief, love and loss this year that maybe I’ll touch on another time.