So many writers for this newsletter have such weighty and meaningful things to say. Each day I’m moved and inspired. And then it’s my turn to write. So I stare off meaningfully into the distance with my best indie folk mix playing and wait for inspiration to strike. Something that will give solace and wisdom. But today I’m tapped out. The weight of everything that is happening, the need to make smart and creative decisions, the fact that everything is so hard and scary now, the sheer amount of challenge and tragedy....So I’m gonna write about TikToK.
Like so many millennials sans kids who have a lot of free time on their hands while sitting in lockdown, I downloaded TikToK. At first, I said it was because a friend of mine did the one for the Washington Post, so I was just supporting him…and then there were some clever funny ones that made me giggle. And then I found myself sitting in bed unconsciously doing the hand motions to a popular TikToK dance. Without knowing it, the routine of flicking through an endless parade of tiny, short videos became part of my routine. And then yesterday, while scrolling mindlessly, I encountered a new trend. Set to an acoustic version of Yusuf Cat Stevens' “Peace Train” the little videos say “hi friends! This is a TikToK rest area, stay as long as you like, come take a rest with me.” They usually feature someone sitting in bed reading with candles or in a restful nature setting. I thought this is lovely, what a nice place to rest a bit. And then I realized: my tired brain is actually begging for stillness and was just waiting for permission to stop for just a minute.
With a pandemic highlighting and compounding the many structural causes of inequality and inequity, I know many activists are working harder and longer than ever before. I reached out to a friend, Loey Powell, who has been in the work of fighting for justice for a long time, with an incredible history of advocating for reproductive justice and LGBTQ equality, on what it means to feel this tired. She said, “There are about 50 million reasons to be tired. Take the time you need to take care. One of the things I learned over the years is that we are engaged in a long-term struggle for justice and righteousness, so knowing that all will not be done this year, or next year, or even by the end of our lives is an important perspective. I have worked for reproductive justice since before Roe v. Wade, and it hurts to be in a place where it might be overturned. But what I hold onto is that being part of this struggle (one among many) has had an impact on untold numbers of people who have made a difference in their own contexts. Taking time to refresh myself was critical over the years.”
Each of us in our turn will find and lose hope, again and again, ebbing and flowing like the tide. But only in community and only in solidarity can we retain our perpetual hope. That way, when one person’s hope is at low tide, they can be bolstered by the hope of others. All this is to say: if you’re feeling exhausted, a bone-deep tired, here’s a little permission if you need it to be still. To not be able to give something. To need to refresh yourself. We need you. The Resistance needs you. So, take care the best you can.