Unnamed Emotions

Yesterday I was driving along Bell St to Fairfield. I saw a group of people with a banner and a painted wheely bin, a few people were holding signs and wearing t-shirts with the cause or statement written on them. I strained to see what it was about. I saw the words Manus and Mining. I think they were making a link between concessions made to get Adani mining in Australia, while we treat detainees in Manus in a subhuman way.

Image taken from media: Protesters from the Refugee Action Coalition hold placards during a demonstration outside the offices of the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection in Sydney, Australia, April 29, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray

I tooted my horn in support. I waved and did the ‘thumbs up’. A couple of them waved back. One person looked at me in disgust, anticipating that I wasn’t in support of their actions. Once he realised, I could see his face change, I was relieved to see he understood I was with him.

The interaction left me emotional. A sudden rush of emotion filled my body. I wanted to weep, instead of trying to understand it, and figure out if I was just proud or maybe feeling guilty for not joining them, I let my emotion be. As the second wave came a few moments later, I struggled to stay in what felt like a weird combination of pride and pain. I got curious about the wisdom it had to offer.

They were expressing their dissatisfaction about government actions by literally taking to the streets. Good on them! In response I felt the pain, I also felt proud of them. I felt the pain of all the people who are pissed off that our government is putting peoples lives in danger and letting dubious companies come extract minerals from our land. It’s infuriating. And as I gave myself permission yesterday, I felt the feeling. I felt the pride and pain in the same emotion.

Our language for emotions is pretty limited, and to describe the feeling isn’t an easy one. But it feels important to try. It feels important to name it however awkwardly, and imperfectly. Have you ever experienced that? Where you struggle to name what you felt? I’m curious if it’s similar or different to my experience.


This post is 24 in 45 posts for 45 years.

In Defense of Self-Love

I got a bit fired up reading Laurie Penny’s Life-Hacks of the Poor and Aimless. Part way through I found myself writing this short piece. By the time I got to the end of the article I could see that the author might not disagree with me, yet it seemed worth blogging about. That feels like something worth acting on at the moment, considering this is my first tathra.me blog this year and I have a lot of unpublished work that has been victim to my doona dive.

While I agree that positivity isn’t the answer to a sick society, I think self-care is a worthwhile pursuit on the path to collective wellness. We are more able to collaborate for planetary solutions when we are in a healthy relationship with ourselves.

From my own personal experience in collaboration change agents, I certainly prefer working with people who have a decent relationship with themselves than those whose activism is sourced in misanthropy as a thin veil for their own self-loathing. 

Taking responsibility for our personal wellbeing is the first step, not the only step, toward planetary wellbeing. It can be confronting and our society certainly doesn’t have a lot in the way of role models for taking personal responsibility, much less collective responsibility. And, conversely, of course it’s easier to stay focused on ourselves than trying to make a difference in a world where being able to affect global issues like poverty and climate change seem futile.

Society is mad and messed up, and if we react from despair, what does that lead to? If we can get ourselves from reaction to response, responding with wisdom, it might create a new story, a new future. Easier said than done, I hear you say. But considering our reference point, and taking responsibility for what we bring to the collective table starts with loving ourselves. All of ourselves, including the part of us that has misanthropic tendencies and embracing our darkness/shadow/ego, so we can shine a light alongside those who curse the darkness.

This is also on my mind after reading Umair Haque’s Peace and Violence. If you read it, see my comment at the end.

Day 16: Day Three of 40+ heatwave and self love

It’s the third day in a row of temperatures above 40 degree heat. It makes everything feel more intense. heatwave

I’ve been dealing with the heat, plus a few things that inspire some upset. I resort to keeping busy to keep my feelings at bay. When I noticed sadness coming to the surface I shared it with my business partner who gave me the space to honour the feelings. How I appreciated that!

I remember seeing on Tom Lescher’s weekly Pele Report that this week would be a bit of an emotional roller coaster. Yup! The heat seems to amplify it, and maybe that’s not a bad thing. Perhaps I would have kept myself busier to deal with this grief.

I’m thinking about self love, selfishness, selflessness and being self-serving. Imagining them on different points along a spectrum, or perhaps as a constellation or in a venn diagram. I’m imagining self love being in the middle and selflessness being on one end with things like martyrdom and selfishness being on another end. Being self serving could be with selfishness or an offshoot of it. There seems to be a bit of a gray area between being self serving and being self loving. Another spectrum on creating a constellation or bubble in the venn diagram.

I remember a documentary called The Fix about drug addiction in Vancouver, the girlfriend of the main subject was portrayed as a bit of a martyr. It helped me see my own behaviour in the environmental and social justice activism I was dedicating my life to in a different light. I began to see that selflessness and selfishness can be two sides to the same coin. Sure, I cared about the Earth and all it’s inhabitants, but underneath I wanted to be right and for people to do what I thought they should do in line with my beliefs. Almost evangelical when I look at it now.

In my selfless and tireless work I burnt myself out, three times before I was 30. Not very self loving. My workaholism was martyrdom. Thankfully, my body delivered a different kind of wisdom by contracting pneumonia to get me to take care of myself and shake up my world. What was I serving? My desire to live by my principles or my self righteousness? I can see now that it was both. It doesn’t need to be one or the other.

As I explore this territory of self love the main feature that stands out is if I am nurtured by how I am being. Does it nurture me to water my fruit trees and care for my heat stressed animals? Of course, they are important to me. As long as I’m also taking care of myself, which I believe I am. It’s a nice change to be able to say that. Normally I look for what’s missing, what else I could do. Today I am happy with how well I have taken care of myself. Another thing the heat amplifies!

Whats going on in the world?

I have a cousin with a Hummer in Alberta, an aunt and uncle on either side of Australia that don’t believe climate change is happening despite fires and floods, preferring to leave it up to god. I have an activist friend in California who knows better, but wants to leave the country because of the corruption she sees, unable to appreciate the positive movement afoot. It reminds me of a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson “People seem not to see that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.”

Yet we have people in Madison, Wisconsin inspired by what’s happening in Egypt, standing up for their rights. No longer being willing to let cynicism and complacency rule, stepping out into a possibility of the future is that they create not sitting down and letting it happen to them.

So I wonder, where can I stand up for what I believe in and be empowered to create the future I want? Oh yeah, my life! That’s a good place to start. If I am responsible for myself, I am responsible for the world.