Throughout our lives things will come up that we have to handle. Then the air cools and we rest. Handling and resting seem to be the ebb and flow of our lives. Those handling times I call fires.
Fires come in varying degrees. Fires are those energies, people, situations, circumstances that we have to handle before they get out of control. I believe they are all lessons. Sometimes the best way to handle a fire is to recognize that we can't control them, rather our jobs are to choose how we react to them.
Fires burn. They move us to move. They keep us from moving. Fires are relative. Fires are a part of life. What is yours? Police brutality and the propaganda being spread that black life has no value gets me heated. Every time. The idea that we are useless enrages me. We who are the direct descendants of those who built this country and we who are still building it, are treated so inhumanely.
Writing and expressing myself is my outlet. Expressing my opinions on social media, in my journals and on my blogs. I also talk to friends and family and share ideas, questions and concerns with my community. Also, I converse with my son and other young people and hear their ideas and frustrations.
Sometimes fires don't burn as hot as other times. It is annoying when a store clerk is following me too closely, but the clerk's actions don't raise my blood pressure too much. A grown man following a teenager at night against orders from the police and then shooting and killing him, see the Trayvon Martin case, well that's a different story.
Conversation keeps everything alive. Communication is important. Fires are dissipated when conversations disappear. Look at what happened when the widespread conversation settled about the over two hundred girls who were kidnapped in Nigeria. Who is looking for them beside their immediate loved ones? How long has it been since that topic has trended? Fires keep things alive. Heated conversations. Love conversations. Communication gives life to everything.
I am a part of the fire. We all play our roles. They are different depending on the day and situation. Sometimes I am the woman who starts the heat. Fire is necessary. As an artist I find it necessary to call out the names of my brothers and sisters who have been murdered, abused and gone missing. I do this through my stories, poetry, paintings and photography. I repeatedly call their names. I know that this is a trigger for some because many don't want to deal with the pain in our community, understandably. There is a lot of it. I don't want to deal with it either, but it is necessary. We should be triggered.
Other times I am a balm. I am the bucket of water needed to cool a situation. I can say a prayer, walk away, hold a hand, feed hungry, give clothes and shelter. When fires are not raging in my life I can help someone else as many do for me. Often we are helping others when our fires are burning.
What I consider fires differ today than yesterday in that in my younger years they had more to do with me. My bills, my life, my job, my money or lack thereof. Today what I consider fires are more about my community, which is the world. Police brutality, children abused, domestic violence, racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia. My life work is about making life better for all of us.
I find myself to be a more effective fire diminisher in my current years than my junior because work for my community is more valuable than simply concern for myself and my circle. I would not exist without the world of people.
Working with others has helped me be a better person for myself. My needs are considerably smaller than the needs of the world. More are fed when I am concerned not only with how my family will eat, but how the hungry in the community can also be fed.
Removing focus from myself solely helps me see the connectedness of all humanity. I am thankful for the continued lesson of I am because we are.
Fires, though they burn, ignite a rush and pull to cause community to unite. Problems will always exist. Through the recent suicide of Robin Williams on August 11, a man who suffered from depression, there is active major conversation about depression and other mental illnesses. Also, in the space of being incredibly angered about the police murdering Michael Brown on August 9, there is great race discussions in the United States.
Fires also keep us from moving. They kill communities, ideas and dreams. A fire that burns uncontrollably will suck the oxygen . This is what a fire is by definition. If everyone is concentrated on putting out the same fire, something else is burning and being neglected. Fires keep us from breathing. Play is necessary. The energy it takes to put out a fire held constantly inside of us will kill us. It, unfortunately can be easy to fall into the trap of fire and neglect ourselves. Since the 9 th I have been so consumed with the case of Michael Brown and the riots in Ferguson, Missouri where he was killed and the murders shortly following his, including the murder by police of Ezell Ford, a twenty-five years old mentally ill African-American man. But for my self care, I have to take walks and take care of and enjoy my son and nurture my hobbies and crafts. Being still is important. Breathing is important. Having fresh air and head space to relax is important. We do not exist without the community but it does not exist without our healthy selves either.
We keep hope and life alive
Good and bad we burn