Reading the twitter feeds on the Dakota pipeline protests has brought back memories of mine. One is the image of me with a rainbow flag and a drum. Another in the biting cold, straddled aboard my bike in the middle of an intersection. Another, my bike between the SWAT team and me while behind my back strangers marched on that I was charged to defend.
In my life, the best protests have happened in the rain.
I’ve only been to a few handfuls. Lead one on Wall Street in the middle of the night. Facilitated some. Met in quiet room and discussed big lans that came to meager ends. And over a course of years, it never felt like much.
Like digging my fingers into the dirt never felt like becoming a gardener. Planting stakes in the ground never felt like starting a revolution. Beating a drum like jump-starting a revolt. Leaving home never looking like becoming free. And shaving my head didn’t feel like becoming anything.
But after years have passed in slow progression, I look back and see how each piece was a step along a long staircase toward this outlier’s garden.
And now I sit solo with my head in the clouds, eyes closed, seeing worlds thriving and dying in universes no-one else knows. I am trying to ellucidate, but failure is so easy to come by; success so rare.
But, still, I know that nothing is intrinsically linked to anything. My actions and attitudes are no guaranteed momentum upward to some inevitable goal. But rather, life is lateral movement. I suppose as I go, I necessarily move away and towards. But it all feels arbitrary and relative. Circles and cycles, spinning wheels, nothing else.
I loop and loop and loop around. Hoping I am honing in, knowing only I am trying. Effort equals some piece of the equation, but which bit?
Struggles build muscle. But the older I get, the less I retain them. The more I gain experience and grow, the more effort base survival costs my heart and body.
The rage of my youth has mellowed into a steady glow. Less a fire, more a current. A flow. Oft times, I feel both grounded and steady. Some days I fail at composure and need my quiet solitary to recover.
Some days are plain bad, and I have to go far away, disconnect, disengage. Count spoons. Those days people say unattributable things like “mercury is in retrograde.” I only attest it to my heart — tangles of scar tissue that beats off-kilter and awkward when the weather is too warm and the nights too short. But it sings in the rain and speckled starlight of winter’s drawn out cold.
I am an autumn core. Born in the shift, always on the cusp of some new experience. My winter was a youth in which I was oh so slow to grow. It showed. But now come age, come spring, I am developing in every direction. Soon enough you’ll look at me and see more than a narrow sappling. An earth-bounded tree. A sentinel. A forest for all these leaves.
And in the long and low angles of a late summer’s glow, I will come into my own. Come into old growth. Bend inward on myself. And rest.
But for now, I am covered in the blue-green of these new shoots. I am spreading everywhere and reaching for everything. Now is the time to catch my hand and dance. To catch our breath and jump. To chase whims and try it all.
Off into the wild.