Limbo: Trying Not to Go Low

Have you noticed how long it’s been since I last blogged? Me neither. All I’ve noticed is that I haven’t felt like it. My last post, exactly one month ago, was a re-post of my friend’s, about the Say Their Names memorial in our little village.

photo courtesy Iris Graville

Now I’ve just returned home from a ceremony honoring those signs and moving them to their next home, as they were not constructed to withstand fall and winter weather. And I’m finally feeling moved to write again…about the limbo I’ve been in.

Limbo. Two definitions come to mind,* neither of them Biblical:

1) “an uncertain period of awaiting a decision or resolution; an intermediate state or condition”

2) “a West Indian dance in which the dancer bends backward to pass under a horizontal bar that is progressively lowered to a position just above the ground”

(*both definitions from Google)

Things that seem stuck in limbo:

–since the COVID shutdown, millions of people’s education, jobs, projects, plans–hell, our lives.

–the forward movement toward racial justice that many of us deeply want to believe in , as the forces against change gather for counter-attack, and as weariness or fear threaten to overwhelm action.

–somewhere in all of that–me. And, very possibly, you.

I don’t want to go into the details of my own personal limbo, which has to do with my two creative passions, writing and music. I want to write about avoiding the “how low can you go?” part of limbo.

Here’s what I am doing to “stay high” in this uncertain period:

  1. Working on the main source of mood-overwhelm: continuing self-education about the prospects for racial justice AND participating in Get-Out-the-Vote campaigns in several key states.
  2. Finding assurance and inspiration in certain voices. Right now, my main Muse is Michelle Obama, via her wonderful podcast.
  3. Sharing good food with near & dear people, and good Zooms with far & dear.

    Like picking blackberries with my sons and turning them into…

    …pie! (The berries, not the sons.)

  4. Reading good books–like Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass–and writing often in my journal.
  5. Worshipping regularly in the Church of the Great Outdoors.

    Amen! (Photo by Suzanne Strom)

How about y’all? How are you avoiding the lows of your own limbo? Please share inspiration here.

4 thoughts on “Limbo: Trying Not to Go Low

  1. Yes! Definitely can identify with all of this. But, do miss the blackberry pie – berries long gone here after an unusually long, torrid summer. Last night the lengthy heat wave broke, and we switched from an overnight low in the mid to high 70s to a bracing 58F. – even lower predicted for tonight. Ahhhh. (Must remember to close the greenhouse door)

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. I am…

    1. Laying down vocal tracks for a virtual opera. I was asked to take on a lead role in La Traviata. So I’m listening to piano accompaniment in one ear, and singing into a mic, and watching Audacity on my laptop. It’s not easy without a conductor, let me tell you. Someone is taking all the tracks and mashing them together. I don’t envy his/her job.

    2. Reworking the lyrics to “The Ladies Who Lunch” from Steven Sondheim’s Company. That song is usually performed by a woman in the show, and it’s about mocking a certain class of sophisticated Manhattan women. Since I’m working on performing it myself, I’m changing it to mock instead the field I’m in: “The Techies Who Code”.

    3. Like you, writing and music are also important to me. So I’m writing poetry and working on building a repertoire of songs to sing and play on the piano. Lately I brought some Elton John to life (from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road), some Steely Dan, and Stevie Wonder.

    4. Trying to start a company. Recently I designed, and implemented a prototype system for this little speech-to-text service a few people and I are doing. Now we need to convince Google to partner with us, and to get investment.

    5. Thinking of expatriating. Last year I went to India and fell in love with it. If my employment is purely over the internet, then I could live very well over there, and I may never have to sit in an office or in heavy traffic ever again.

    6. Thinking, thinking, thinking (and writing). Like, how to make structural changes to address the hyper-partisan mess we’re in. Yes, getting Biden elected is important, but it’s not going to be magic after that. We’re not, collectively, suddenly all going to get along. James Madison was incredibly prescient in Federalist Paper #10 about the danger of factions, especially factions tied to money. So I’ve been thinking and writing about how to begin to address that problem, constitutionally and otherwise.

    7. Making mini-pilgrimages. A dear friend from Devon, UK sent me a “Pilgrim Passport” issued by the Church of England, which was intended to encourage folks to visit the 25+ cathedrals around Britain. It’s a beautiful little booklet, and it really looks like a passport. So I’ve been driving to different sacred spots in SF and other places in the Bay Area, parking some distance away, walking through the city or whatever, and praying for different issues every week. Two weeks ago, it was mental illness. Last week, it was for the health of families.

    So I’m active, but it doesn’t feel manic or desperate. It feels like this is an opportune time. I hope that I’m wrong, but I think this may be just the beginning of systemic change. We may be in for *permanent* disruption, not just because of COVID, but political instability, economic instability, and climate change.

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