Stand Up Like a Mountain
I can’t believe it’s been two whole years since I last posted here in Cyber Land. During that time, a new grandchild burst into my life like a wild wind, toppling old routines and riveting my attention. I’ve become the archetypal grandma, yakking away to everyone I meet about the boy’s impish humor, his voluminous vocabulary, his undying passion for big trucks, helicopters, and Thomas the Tank Engine. At the drop of a hat, I’m liable to rattle on about how he’s a sucker for his older sister, finds rocks utterly fascinating, and loves nothing more than to kick, kick, kick his chubby ankles in the pool.
But baby boys get bigger, and sometimes even grandmas have additional incarnations itching to be born. As Mr. Adorable steps more confidently into the world, Fleur and I commence a new leg of our own journey. I’m over the moon to share with you that Thomas-Jacob Publishing will be releasing The Fleur Trilogy, beginning with the second edition of The History of My Body, to be followed by its sequel Tizita, and then the one that is not yet named but is on its feverish way to completion. I was introduced to my delightful new publisher Melinda Clayton by my sister novelist Smoky Zeidel, and I'm in heaven at having found such a warmly welcoming publishing home. We’ll soon be announcing Fleur’s reappearance in her shiny new cover.
To add some serious icing to the cake, Bonnie Bright has released a thought-provoking new book, Depth Psychology and the Digital Age, that includes my own contribution, A Jungian Alice in Social Media Land: Some Reflections on Solastalgia, Kinship Libido, and Tribes Formed on Facebook. On Saturday, December 3rd, I’ll be taking part in an online panel with several other contributors to discuss our musings about Cyber Land. I hope you can join us!
So much has changed these past two years. We’ve lost (gulp!) Prince, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Leon Russell, Alan Rickman, Gwen Ifill, George Martin, Paul Kanter, B.B. King, Percy Sledge, Ben E. King, Jean Ritchie, Oliver Sacks - and the list, alas, goes on and on. In my own life, three feline friends, including the inspiration for Fleur’s beloved Jillily, have died, taking half my heart with them.
One of the defining slogans of the 1960’s was, “The personal is political.” In 2016 the converse is demanding our attention. No matter which side of the Great American Divide we've been on during this seemingly endless election season, most of us have been taking our politics very personally. On this day after Thanksgiving, as I was idly poking around the web in my post-turkey torpor, I found my way to a video of the water protectors of the Standing Rock Native American Reservation on the site where they were recently blasted by water cannons on freezing nights as they defended their water source, the Missouri river, and sacred tribal land from the depredations of the Dakota Access Pipeline (aka Big Oil). Many have come to join them, including celebrities such as Mark Ruffalo, Shailene Woodley, Samuel L. Jackson, Leonardo DiCaprio, environmental attorney Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and my own favorite environmental attorney and dear friend, the Science and Environmental Health Network's Carolyn Raffensperger. The thing is: the water protectors of Standing Rock have managed to capture the imagination of many good people despite a near-total mainstream news black out. They’ve had the strength to keep at it because they’ve been moved, not by some abstract idea, but by a very personal sense of kinship with the water, the ancestors, the land, and future generations.
I’ve had a particular interest in what’s been taking place in North Dakota. My mother, her maiden name Ethel Wodlinger, was born to the only Jewish family in the small town of Selfridge, North Dakota, just 36 miles away from Standing Rock. Her Russian-immigrant parents owned a small creamery and general store that was frequented by the nearby Sioux tribe, and her earliest memories were of men arriving on horseback to pick up food and supplies to share with the tribe. That ethos of sharing contains a wisdom that the rest of us could do well to learn from regarding our sacred kinship with one another and the earth that supports us. As a grandmother, it speaks to me personally. My nights are troubled by a profound sense of urgency to protect the integrity of the land and water that my little one – and yours - will need to survive.
Right now this heaving, hot mess of a country of ours – born from an urgent need for freedom and midwifed with a fine mix of ferocity and idealism - finds itself in a pickle, hostage to a political tornado that is at once naïve, impudent, and cruel. Our countrymen and women have managed to elect a president who fails to meet the rudimentary measure of an emotionally healthy kindergarten child: “plays well with others.” It’s something we'll all need to learn to do much, much better as we seek to ensure a viable future for the young Adorables of our world.
I’ve learned from Fleur and other quantum physicists that small actions can change worlds. Some of us make a positive impact with political acts, some with creativity, some with kindness, some with listening, some with love. I hope you take heart and inspiration from the people my mother remembered with such fondness and from the artist Trevor Hall, who found an anthem within him. May you find your own way to share with our larger human tribe. And as your very own kind of rock, may you stand up like your own kind of mountain.