on the cover of the Vol. 28 | No. 2 | Spring 2012 edition of Inquiring Mind:
Until you dig a hole, plant a tree, water it and make it survive, you haven’t done a thing. You are just talking.
—Wangari Maathai (1940-2011)
Speech at Goldman Awards, San Francisco, April 24, 2006
powerful to read this while learning about the cordones that emerged under Allende in Chile.
when the bourgeoisie launched a “bosses’ strike” (there’s a new one for me!) as a kind of pressuring – slash – refusal to cooperate with Allende’s lefty government, they planned to withhold the means of production (their own property) in order to force concessions. but instead, the wage-slave folks intimately familiar with those means of production — in factories, in agriculture, even in schools and shantytowns — combined forces to take over and run things themselves.
this week, life is prompting me to bring my email / internet life back into balance. prompting me in pleasant ways; prompting me in unpleasant ways.
among the unpleasant: multiple times i’ve handed my laptop to a friend to borrow, and watched them go bug-eyed at the number of tabs constantly open in my browser. “i feel like i’m having a sympathy panic attack,” one half-joked. yikes.
on the pleasant side: a scheduled meditation retreat at the end of this month comes at a perfect time, reminding me that at times in my young adulthood i’ve survived weeks or even months without checking email. of course, work and livelihood looked very different then. still, retreat time helps in that way. helps un-narrow the focus, relax the grip of habit.
I bulk process my email three times a day in 30-minute increments, once in the morning, once mid-day, and once before shutting down my computer for the day. I use a timer and when it beeps, I close my email program.
Here’s what I’ve found: I don’t miss a thing.
In fact, it’s the opposite. I gain presence throughout my day. I am focused on what’s around me in the moment, without distraction. I listen more attentively, notice people’s subtle reactions I would otherwise overlook, and come up with more ideas as my mind wanders. I’m more productive, more sensitive, more creative, and happier.
sometimes it helps me to imagine analog metaphors for digital activities. in this case, it really does make much more sense to ‘open your mailbox’ just a couple times a day. see if there are any letters, bills, deliveries. sort them. appreciate the sweet ones. handle the rest.
applying for studio apartments gives me a sad about racism, transphobia, displacement, the prison industrial complex, and the whole system of property, among other things. still, here’s hoping i can find a good nest for the next year or so. may a new refuge support my / our work for freedom. ♥
You may have noticed: Kloncke has gone fallow. The reasons are many. Organizing, relationships, new job. Transitions. I haven’t been writing much at all. Creating and co-creating has been very verbal, with lots of processing, planning, and preparing.
Back here on this blog, I feel tongue-tied. Not in a bad way, necessarily. Just kind of in the way that I was never really one to scream on roller coasters. When the ups and downs of life feel huge and pronounced, I have nothing more to say.
Mostly I feel grateful.
This winter when things got difficult, I fell into a funk. Now, with the sun out, and the possibility of a day at the beach with a new friend, the obstacles feel more surmountable. Richer, even.
Lately I’ve been wondering more about what my role might be.
What is my particular purpose and contribution in the various projects I’m doing?
What kind of team member am I? And what kind of team do I want to play for?
There is a lot of privilege in these questions, especially when it comes to livelihood. I have many more options, as far as jobs go, than most people in the world — especially in this economy, and because of my higher ed scholarship, which has made me miraculously debt-free.
On the other hand, to the extent that privilege means Easier To Land A Cozy Job, it doesn’t necessarily lead to a better life.
Less stressful, yes.
More effectively revolutionary?
Contributing to co-creating the kind of world we want, for ourselves and others?
Today at work, we had a conversation about right livelihood, though not in those terms — one of the people is Christian, and I’m not sure whether she thinks of the issue according to Buddhist principles. Anyway, the Christian person said that many of her friends are quitting their jobs (and in this economy!) because they can’t stand it any longer: being complicit in whatever it is that their job is doing. (Exploiting someone, somewhere. You barely need to scratch the surface to find it, most of the time.) They just couldn’t take being a part of that company. And no hope of trying to change it from the inside.
And yet, we reflected, most people are lucky to get any job whatsoever.
And, what if you use your position in your job in order to organize?
Rather than trying to reform the company, what about strategically positioning oneself to connect, worker to worker? And beyond — into communities and other workplaces affected by the work? (Teachers and students organizing with parents; miners and loggers acting in solidarity with people indigenous to the land being exploited.)
And that’s not to say that workplace organizing is easy. Especially revolutionary workplace organizing that aims beyond standard-of-living reforms and tries to challenge the toxic structures of racist, heteropatriarchal capitalism.
But that’s why I think that maybe — maybe — the true privilege is to live in a time and place where healing and resisting with comrades is possible. Whether through paid work or unpaid work.
Hope you’re well, friends. And thank you, Rich, for this marvelous day at the beach. :)