Inauguration Day

Today we are witness to a sea change–not just for the American people but for everyone and everything else that shares a planet with us. It’s just hard to say whether this New Republic will end it all or be the saving of us.

This much I know is true: We have been in need of change. Vast, sweeping change. But I do not believe that the kind and level of change we need can be solved by the passing of a baton between political regimes. Nor do I believe our government or their corporate keepers will save us. Why would they even want to when so often their interests don’t align with ours? Especially when every year we seem to move further apart. We need instead to start thinking about what we can do to move closer as a people, even as our leaders forget or ignore what it’s like to be sick, to be hurt, to be afraid, to be poor.

The rallying cry for those whose candidate did not stand on today’s podium to be sworn in, is RESIST. But resistance can only take us so far. I believe we need more than resistance. We need a REVOLUTION. Not the kind fought with guns or bombs. That kind of force may be effective, but at what cost?

The revolution I propose starts with us–not the part of us that blames or fears or hates, but the part of us that the best dreams of our then young country were founded on:

  • Resourcefulness
  • Freedom
  • Hard work
  • Community
  • Collaboration
  • Ingenuity

And of course we can’t forget Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.*

We need a groundswell from the grass roots. From the deepest part of our humanity. Resilience is about creating what we need for ourselves, in spite of what anyone tries to take away from us. And I do mean us– not every girl for herself like so many survivalists preach. We can’t do any of this alone and why should we want to? Life is better when shared. Obstacles are easier to overcome. Grief easier to bear. Work goes by faster and is more fun (at least according to Mark Twain). And perhaps most importantly, we are infinitely stronger together.

Already, lists of threats to our ways of living are turning up everywhere. Which are true and which may be rumors or pipe dreams remains to be seen, but we can use them as a starting point. ACA threatened? How can we care for and protect each other? NEA abandoned? How do we find ways to keep making, sharing, and supporting all forms of art anyway? The security of our food and water threatened? How to we grow and source what we need locally?

Seeds of Victory

There are already precedents for such things, for example, the 20,000,000 Victory Gardens created in backyards and windowsills and school grounds. By 1944, they provided 40% of all produce grown in this country (source) all without the 16.1 million Americans who were away serving during WWII (source).

There is, within each of us, a Victory Garden. There is, within each of us, a piece of the puzzle. And once we put all those pieces together there’s no telling what we can do.

Meditations for the New Republic

It has been five days since one of the most divisive, contentious, and baffling elections in the history of America came to a close. Even people on the same side of the fence continue to find ourselves at loggerheads over what happened and what to do next.

Superpower: FREEDOM!
Superpower: FREEDOM! © Lauren Ayer 2014

Since that day my mind has been turning over the results and what they might mean for the world, and what my responsibility will be in our uncertain new republic. Our country has survived the unthinkable many times over and I believe with all my heart that, once again, we will find our way through. Here is what I plan to do:

  • Choose the one thing that matters most and the the most important tools and allies to create, defend, or support it, then devote myself tireless on its behalf. Yes, only one thing–ideally something very specific (think solar power accessibility not global climate change). Otherwise my energy will be divided and i may falter over time. Trust others will attend to what I cannot.
  • Attend to my body’s physical needs. Sleep. Eat nourishing foods. Exercise. Our bodies and minds are the most important tools we have, and this is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • I will do my very best not to be led by pain, hate, or fear. Instead I will follow hope, compassion, and my dreams of a better world. We cannot know what will happen until it does. It is important to recognize and prepare for the worst, but equally important to work toward the best. Fear will not sustain us over the long haul. Only love can do that.
Superpower: LOVE!
Superpower: LOVE! © Lauren Ayer 2013

As for me, this overgrown, neglected garden is the hill upon which I will stand. My tools are ink and paper, needle and thread, this voice, and the art and stories I create with them. My Quest, to sow hope, cultivate resilience and positive action, and inspire others to do the same.

Superpower: GROWTH!
Superpower: GROWTH! © Lauren Ayer 2014

But no one of us can do this alone, and so I invite you to join me. What will your one thing be? What tools will you need? How can I help?

Mourning the Living

RIP Great Barrier Reef
Illustration: Andrew Holder

I have a confession to make. A few days ago, I came across an article that made me lose hope. According to an obituary published on Outside Magazine’s website by writer Rowan Jacobsen, the Great Barrier Reef has died. And though other sources have argued that it still shows some signs of life, even they imply that hope for recovery is slim.

It took me a while to find words to talk about this. One of the most beautiful and important environments on the planet, teaming with life and color, has gone cold and gray. It is a loss so great that I can’t get my head around it. I almost can’t believe it. I don’t want to believe it. It is so horrific and terrifying that I would rather believe it’s a lie trumped up to scare us into changing our ways. It makes me understand how people could consider climate change a conspiracy theory despite the overwhelming data all around us proving that it’s true.

I won’t ask how we got here. That part is glaring and obvious. The more important question is what do we do now? As for me, the answer is get back to work.

This is a time of mourning, but we can’t let it stop us from doing all we can to prevent future loss, to reclaim all we can of the beauty that seems to be fleeing this world at ever increasing speeds–before it’s all gone.

Even if some part of it survives, the reef will never again be what it was, but there is still great beauty in this world of ours. And there are so many ways to protect what we still have. And so many ways to add more. If not a reef, a painting. If not a crystalline blue sky, a poem. If not a rain forest, a song. Because I believe, as I have said before, that the only antidote to the hatred and fear and destruction in and of this world is to create. Make art. Make love. Plant a tree. Believe.

Don’t mourn the living. Fight for them.