I make it a practice not to complain. But if there’s one person that I would complain to, that would be SimJim. He always knows how I’m feeling, anyway, so if I articulate my complaints to him, then it opens up the opportunity for him to help me view my complaints in a new light. It may take a few hours, it may take a few days–heck, it might even take a few decades–but if we explore an issue thoroughly together, eventually we find our way around the corner to a place of understanding and acceptance. And from that place, right action can follow.
Recently, I was feeling a little bummed out. Annette noticed that I was feeling down when I was doing one of my perimeter walks.
This whole Motherlode thing wasn’t working out the way I had hoped. Instead of making a safe haven, it was starting to feel like it was becoming a paranoid pimple, a little blot in the happiness of the universe, and that was weighing heavily on me.
I explained how I felt to SimJim, how it felt that by our trying to keep the Goths and Landgraabs out, we were creating a place that undesirable elements wanted in. In fact, somebody whose insights I really value and trust commented that it was even starting to feel a little dystopian over here, and I had to agree. There was just this big shadow, and it felt like it was all coming from my fears about keeping Annette and the other refugees safe from unknown dangers in their homeland, and spreading from that dark anxiety right out through our world, leaving a dark ooze everywhere it went. I was having serious questions about boundaries and permeability and stable and unstable systems, and the more I thought about it, the more confused I got.
“Why don’t you work in the garden for a little bit?” SimJim suggested. “That always helps you feel better. I’ve got a painting I want to work on.”
While I tended our garden, SimJim painted.
He asked me to head inside and really look, look until I saw the painting he just finished. It still smelled like linseed oil and turbinoid, that smell that gets me right in my center, bringing both a feeling of home and a nice little high.
It was a painting of a field of green and blue, organic colors, colors of sky and earth. Thin horizontal lines stretched across it, providing a fabric of connection.
Over the green and blue field lay those invisible strings.
I reflected on this beautiful quotation I’d read the other day on the blog of the player to whose world Shelby Moffet and Karli Wheeler had emigrated, the same player, in fact, from whose Skinnerville Allison had come. The quotation is from a mentor of that player:
…there are these invisible strings that we touch in each other without knowing it. If these strings would make sound, they would culminate in some harmonious string concert – even though on the surface this group of people appears to be quite diverse and perhaps even discordant.”
-René J. Molenkamp
Each of the dots in the painting was like one of us, one of these people who have come together through the playing of these invisible strings. Even Bella, whom I still fear and distrust, even Geoffrey, whom I also distrust, are dots within this system.
I went back out to the garden and found SimJim. “What do you think?” he asked. “Can you see our role a little more clearly now?”
“I think I can,” I said. “It’s like we’re white blood cells. When I do my perimeter walks, I’m just making our presence known, putting our energy out there, not hiding away in here, letting whatever will happen happen, but getting out and being active and taking an active role in protecting this place.”
“Right,” he said. “It’s not being defensive. Protecting your home, and those you’ve agreed to provide a home for, is being responsible.”
I’ve started actually enjoying my perimeter walks. I get to see what everybody’s up to.
I’m remembering what Vivek suggested, when he stopped by to fetch Eric and Allison, that we keep an eye on the Townies, but now, it doesn’t feel like “keeping an eye” in a paranoid way. It just feels like being friendly, in a responsible sort of way.
And so many of our friends and neighbors drop by every day that I’m starting to see how that fits into part of this system, too.
Annette still comes over daily, but now she’s not full of questions and worries.
She’s full of jokes and stories. And somebody new to meet drops by every day.
When I’m walking around, I make it a point to check in with folks, especially if they look like they’re feeling a little down or worried about something.
So, I’m doing my job of being a white blood cell, and I’m aiming to do it in an open and friendly way.
It’s like if you have a garden that’s a sanctuary for birds and lizards. You want to keep the neighborhood cats out, so that they won’t prey on the lizards and birds. But of course, the more inviting you make the garden to the lizards and birds, the more the cats are drawn to it. So each morning and each evening you go out to the garden, walking through it, making your presence known, and if you see a cat, you make a big noise and clap your hands, and the cat runs off and the birds and lizards thank you.
So that’s what my daily walks are like. That’s what SimJim’s firewalls do.
Even though I can’t always see what’s coming around the corner, I’m making my presence felt.
And I’m doing it in my own cheerful, goofball way.