Forging a path between all and nothing

Dear President Trump,

I’ve started this letter over four times now. It hardly ever happens to me that I can’t get a toehold with a letter, but today I’m really struggling.

I’m quite certain it’s because I keep thinking about how white Northeast Seattle is and the fact that I live here and am not moving any time soon. The weight of this has augured in with a very large handful of other problems I see and at some level understand, but have no plans to do anything concrete about (e.g., my carbon footprint generally and driving to work in my single occupancy vehicle specifically, walking past a homeless encampment almost daily and not doing anything to help, only sometimes buying organic produce, frequently purchasing things beyond bare necessities, throwing food away too often, etc.).

There is so f*cking much to feel guilty about, and it is so tiresome to pick at these guilt scabs that I don’t want to be in my own head sometimes. I get why a lot of people find liberals tiresome – we are so often either guilt ridden because we are (truly) not doing enough or we are so strident and rule governed that we make everyone around us uncomfortable – I’m flashing again on that woman profiled in the Sunset magazine who set things up so that her family never throws anything away, ever. Even from the distance of a magazine article, thinking of her has made me uncomfortable for years. (It’s kind of funny, though, that the article was in a hard copy magazine that went out to hundreds of thousands of households and was almost certainly discarded by most of them. I don’t feel especially proud of calling out this little irony, but it’s making me feel a tiny bit better.) And yes, I know middle of the road, cool liberals are out there, but right now I’m doing my all/none thing so I’m ignoring them.

I once met a woman who was so undone by all the pain in the world, felt it so acutely, that she was completely non-functional. All she could do day in and day out was literally cry about how awful everything is and how helpless she felt to do anything about any of it. Not knowing what else to do, I gave her Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book “Full Catastrophe Living” to read, thinking she’d bring it back after she was done with it. I never saw her or the book again. I hope it was helpful to her. Fortunately I’d already read it and just thinking of the title is still helpful to me.

May we be safe in the midst of our personal and collective catastrophes.
May we hold onto humor (or cultivate some if need be) and not take ourselves too, too seriously.
May we forge a path between all and nothing.
May we allow ourselves some grace and some peace.

Tracy Simpson

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