This morning, an unseen wind illuminated by an unseen light source manifested as a great bright spume of snow lifting from the peaks across the bay. The mountains lay, as they always do this time of year, like a pale bulwark against a sky that starts indigo and brightens. Wind has smoothed the snow-covered mountains, filling vast folded valleys. The morning was quiet except for the sound of melt water sluicing through the creek below my home.
Almost five thousand miles away, Ukrainian people were (and are) fleeing from an invading force. Lives are being destroyed, uprooted, shorn. This is not invisible. We can watch it happening. And yet where I was, quiet. One thing does not blot out the other. Holding two dissonant thoughts is a challenge. The world can be beautiful and people can do violent, horrible things.
What can we do? We can stay open, we can hold two things. And we can try to help.
One of the things we can hold is that the violence in Ukraine is wrong, but also wrong is the violence in Palestine, the violence that is perpetrated in this country against Indigenous people and all people of color. We can help the people in Ukraine in many ways. We can also help other people who are being systematically harmed. Our hearts can accommodate caring for many people.
Another thing we can also do is breathe. Watch each day’s amazing light show. Go for walks. Plant a garden.
And read the work of many people who are telling of their pain. Open your heart to loving many people so that you cannot look away. Let your heart lead you to support others in whatever way you can.
I posted this poem by Ilya Kaminsky on my social media, and I include it here – but please, do support him by purchasing one or both of his amazing books, Dancing in Odessa and Deaf Republic. And definitely read this piece in which Ilya further explains what he meant to do with this poem.
We Lived Happily During the War~ Ilya Kaminsky from Deaf Republic
And when they bombed other people’s houses, we
but not enough, we opposed them but not
enough. I was
in my bed, around my bed America
was falling: invisible house by invisible house by invisible house.
I took a chair outside and watched the sun.
In the sixth month
of a disastrous reign in the house of money
in the street of money in the city of money in the country of money,
our great country of money, we (forgive us)
lived happily during the war.