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Resisting the Urge to Make Meaning Out of Grief

Last weekend I went to the march in Philly to Cease Fire on Gaza and found myself in a crowd of thousands of people chanting "Within our lifetime, we will free Palestine!" I am a firm believer in our personal and collective capacity to create our own realities, and I found this chant to be a potent spell. Reminding us all that what we will into existence has power, and when we wish more liberation and justice into this world, we are already doing the hard work of creating those pathways for healing to happen. This was also truly the most diverse march I have been to in my lifetime, which felt like an invitation to put down our differences and unite together to say ENOUGH. Enough genocide, enough war, enough conquering land and violently displacing the people who steward that land. Within our lifetime, we will free Palestine. Because we have to. Because we can't continue practices of settler colonialism. Because we could be using our taxpayer dollars to build decolonial pathways of healing right here, right now. Because we can't keep dehumanizing and othering entire groups of people in the name of exponential growth and "development." Because we are actually a united species and our liberation is bound. The strongest paradox that has emerged for me in my grief lately has been the one of "why am I feeling so much all the time + why can't I feel this more?" The first layer of this paradox comes from my deep investment in the belief that I am wrong to be so sensitive and feel things as deeply as I do; as well as the belief that desensitization and pushing down those feelings promises a sense of belonging. The second layer (the "why can't I feel this more?" part) is rooted in some deep shame, rage, and anxiety around how normalized it is to be desensitized to such horrific realities. This is also tied to an investment in the illusion of separation; that these aren't my feelings to feel. Marching with so many other people, uniting over the sentiment of "ENOUGH", I felt the power of collective moments for grief. We were all feeling the pain of this moment in our own ways. Surrounded by thousands of people, all crying out for the same wish to come true, I felt how honest it is to just be in your feels publicly with the rest of the world. I also felt how easy and hard it is to stop investing in the beliefs that invoke this paradox. We should feel so much all the time and we can always feel things more deeply. From certain lenses, marches are an obvious call to action. Taking to the streets can certainly feel like an active way to participate in the changes you wish to see in the world. This space was beautifully organized and the people who led this march were most definitely ACTIVE throughout the whole event. And it also served as a space to pause, feel the shared grief, feel the solidarity that comes from recognizing this pivotal moment for our humanity. In this pause, our grief is given space and we can thaw out the desensitized parts of ourselves to genuinely feel in our bodies why we are declaring enough is enough! I have found a deep pattern in myself to want to immediately jump to the practice of making meaning out of things that frankly just royally suck. My mind wants to justify the horrors by locating it in a linear timeline with thoughts like "maybe this is what has to happen for us to collectively wake up and genuinely start the project of decolonization on a massive scale." Or, "my mom dying was what I needed to come more fully into myself and awaken to my purpose." Beneath this urge is something actually pretty violent. A push towards reaction to the loss. A practice of bypassing the violence to arrive at a space of meaning. On many levels, I wonder what would happen if we all paused right now and denied the making sense of something horrible urge in ourselves and our communities. If we saw our direct actions as simultaneously urgent and slow. If we could hold the paradoxes before us now and let ourselves thaw out a little longer as we strategize for the long haul. I am tired of making meaning out of my grief. And I am proud to be in spaces where there is a shared practice of resisting that urge. There is no justification for the lives that have been lost in the name of building nation-states and territories. It just royally sucks. And it is painful. Enough is enough, and I am grateful to have relationships and communities where we can feel our pain, plan for building better futures, and move gently with each other as we stumble to get there.
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