Reflections on an Important Conversation

I’ve had a busy week, so this post is a few days old – it’s taken me a while to get round to re-reading it and checking it’s all ok. We got snow on Friday, it was awesome. The streets that were practically free of snow are now covered, it’s piled up on the sides of the roads and in drifts all over the place. I love it! Also, it’s accompanied by a slight raise in temperature, which is always welcome!

It’s interesting, the things that stand out in your mind. After a hectic weekend of spontaneous clubbing, early morning bus rides, ice hotels, carnivals, beers by open fires in cosy pubs, dancing in the cold and a whole host of other things, the bit that has stayed with me this week is a conversation I had with Manu and Pascale on Sunday evening. Two points specifically.

The first was that Manu suggested that as well as grieving for Ella, I was grieving death itself. This is the first time in my life where shit has really hit the fan, so part of the grieving is also that shit happens. Life isn’t always rosy and just dandy, as it has been till now. Sometimes it sucks, and we’re helpless to do anything about it. I hadn’t thought of it like that. As almost a loss of innocence. It’s stayed with me this week, and when I catch myself thinking of Ella or Brandon (who’s been on my mind a lot. I cooked from one of his recipes yesterday, tasty, but it made me sad) when I’m on the metro or walking between places – that’s when I do thinking – I think about that too. It seems to make sense.

We were also talking about a friend of Manu’s who is a social activist, and who gets around in a wheel chair. At some point in the conversation I said something along the lines of “wow, how inspirational” and Manu stopped me. She pointed out that the activism work that this woman does is inspirational, but the fact that she does it is not. She’s just getting on with her life. It’s very easy when people are not “normal”, and their lives, physically or mentally, are different to the “norm” – whatever that means – to label them as inspirational for getting on with their lives. Manu pointed out that by doing this we define the person by whatever their difference is. It’s stuck with me. Our need to label things is unhealthy and also obstructs what is actually going on, which in this case is some important and much needed social justice work.

Again and again I am reminded how much I value spending time with people older than I am, who have had more time to develop their values, ideas, and opinions on the world we all live in. And how those people challenge me to think more deeply about, not only the world I live in, but the WAY I live in it.

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Dear Brandon

So, this one was written way back in December, but for one reason and another it hasn’t quite been the right time to post it. But this morning, this morning I’m missing Brandon. So here it is.

 

Brandon,

I hope you knew quite how much of an inspiration I thought you were. How, when I started my blog, I thought about yours, and your openness. Perhaps ironically, the first post where I was really honest and open about how I was feeling was talking about your death. Unlike the other bereavements recently, I’ve not been able to spend time with others who knew you – who knew your laugh, or who’d tasted your cooking – and it makes bereavement harder I think.

It’s interesting. We didn’t know each other very well. Sometimes I’m surprised by how deeply I feel your loss.

I want to accept this with grace, but I don’t think anyone was ready for you to go, and certainly the world could have done with you shaking things up a little more. I hope that, like you, I can do my best to change the world around the things I feel strongly about, to write honestly and openly, to push boundaries and challenge norms; to not accept injustice and to do what is in my power to put right wrongs.

I hope you know I loved you.
Maya