Real Stories Don’t Have A Point

80-degree weekend:
spent most of Saturday
convincing myself to do laundry,
finally got it done around 4 p.m.
and decided
the beach was where I needed to be.
Walked to 16th and Mission
and noticed that at some point
over the past week, the bus shelter
had disappeared.
Homeless guy walked over,
asked how long I’d been standing there,
told me tomorrow
he was going to see the Mayor
about the budget cuts
and he might be on national TV
so he hoped he wouldn’t have a booger in his nose
in front of the whole country
and you could tell a true friend
because a true friend would tell you
if you had a booger in your nose
on national TV
and he wanted to start doing
“Bus Stop Stand-Up”
because people could use entertainment
and he liked talking to pretty girls
at bus stops.

My phone rang.

Took the 22 to the 5,
which took me all the way
to the ocean.
I stepped into the sand,
kicked off my shoes,
saw a skinny guy
in a green t-shirt
walking toward me
arms spread open
a beer can in one hand
and gave him a hug.
I stood in the surf
til my feet went numb,
then chased seagulls.
This way for the rest >>

Departure

On the Thursday afternoon we got back from silent retreat, Julie and I were standing in the checkout line at Rainbow Grocery when she got a call from her supervisor.  I stood idly examining things on the shelves until Julie kicked me and mouthed “Sarah just got laid off.”  She went outside to talk on the phone and I finished buying the groceries before going out to find out what the heck had happened.  She told me that six of our coworkers had been laid off on Wednesday—Sarah the only attorney, along with our receptionist, office manager, communications coordinator, development director, and asylum paralegal.  I called my supervisor when we got back to the apartment, and she took us out to dinner that night to talk things over with us.  We were basically in shock and couldn’t understand how anything could function with a third of the office gone.  (I still don’t have an answer for that.)

The whole experience distinctly reminded me of when my dad got laid off from Kodak in November 2001.  The aftermath of layoffs had lost its immediacy after all these years, and I’d forgotten just how much they suck.  It was hard going into work on Friday and seeing a couple of the people who’d lost their jobs, and knowing that I hadn’t gotten to say goodbye to so many.  I’m starting to think that closure is a myth of modern life.  I don’t think the extent of the whole “economic downturn” thing had quite hit home for me until Thursday, either.  It reminds me that nothing is stable, that security is an illusion, that people’s worlds can change without a moment’s notice… that everything ends and that endings often come before we’re prepared for them.  The ideal, I think, is to spend my whole life saying goodbye—to spend it appreciating everything to the fullest extent possible and recognizing that each moment is totally inimitable and will never be lived again: to live in a constant state of arrival and departure.

Our natural genius.

I spent Monday through Thursday on a silent retreat in Los Altos, CA with half of the Southwest JVs.  On Tuesday night, we held a peace vigil where we each signed up for an hour shift, during which we sat surrounded by candles with the peace cloth we’d made at last retreat and prayed for peace.  Spread around the peace cloth were journals dating back 15+ years from peace vigils past, containing things other JVs had written on this night, along with a blank journal for us to write in.  It was really cool to read through the old journals and feel connected to all the people who came before me.  This is one of the entries that I liked the best.

3-23-93

A client gave me a copy of this entry from his journal about 6 weeks before he died of AIDS:

12-12-92 Saturday
People are always on the lookout for opportunities to love, to care, to do what is their natural ability—People are lovers—That is our natural genius.

So when sickness, need, vulnerability, sadness, grief, loss come about—People see the opportunity to “safely” exhibit their innate capacity to give & receive love.

Unfortunately, most of us have been so brutalized around natural affection, openness, and extending love that we feel compelled “to wait,” to hunt, to search for “safe” times when it is okay to give & receive love.

I say we do not have to wait!  The true genius’s of our planet were, are, and will be those children, men & women who constantly expand, extend & multiply, and enlargen the circle of love that radiates in all directions around them.

These treasures have found the secret of being human on planet Earth
Love is intelligent.  To love is the smartest thing to do.
So don’t wait to love.  One does not need a “perfect” opportunity
Only have the willingness to take a seemingly large risk—to give and receive love.
To Brighten Our Dark Planet With The Gift Of The Light Only You Can Offer.  —12-12-92