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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Notes on Coping


To deal effectively with something difficult

Basic survival in this world requires super heroes with coping super powers

Super power symptoms of survival include: self-medicating, self mocking, self love, self sustaining, sustaining a self

No small thing in a world that obliterates the self, disconnecting, redefining re-labeling, repackaging multiple selves in order to sell


And diseases.

Diagnosing with little regard for complicated social context and legacies of dis-inclusion

It’s pathological to express homicidal thoughts and yet we celebrate cutthroat CEO’s who takes people out in order to get to “the top”

There are degrees and diplomas in cutthroat CEO-man ship

There are reality shows lauding these kinds of selves

Creating glass ceilings sharp enough to cut a soul in half just for dreaming of moving beyond its shinny surface

It’s symptomatic to talk to yourself, but whom do you talk to when no one is listening?

If a woman screams and no one hears her, does it still make a sound?

When you are marginalized and disenfranchised listening to yourself becomes a radical super power…

Our super heroes are everywhere…hidden in corners, camouflaged in plain sight, perched precariously on the ledge, drably draped in defenses deflecting their wicked-swift super power-ness, held captive in imaginations dulled by prime time and too much prime rib, stuck in the childhood of collective unconscious, frozen like kids paying freeze tag…waiting, breath held tightly in the deep bottom pockets of both lungs, for us to notice them, to look up or down or left or right and see them: the 7 year old girl with the sassy smirk and black sharpie marks on her fingernails; the adolescent boy next door who’s always picking up pieces of string; the teenage gangster with the soft sideways stare; the housewife hiding behind her bottle of pinot noir; the garbage man who nods back even though he wasn’t acknowledged in the fist place; the waiter and waitresses who plunk down food and coffee, cocktails and unconditional sustenance day after day to an endless parade of mostly ungrateful and half conscious people; the toll booth operator who knocks you on your ass when she smiles and hands back your change with three inch long bright blue nails with yellow and white daisies on them; the overweight girl who hides in the back of the classroom behind a curtain of black hair doodling pictures of Dalmatians wearing sunglasses; the bus driver who breaks up fights at midnight on her number 10 bus route with a sigh as long as winter…

These are our super heroes who whisper stories of hope into the silent shadow of our deepest self waiting desperately to be heard, to be allowed to speak a truth that has been digitally manipulated beyond recognition like the thighs of super models or the skin tone of our local news anchor

They whisper blustery, mischievous and marvelous stories of courageous, tenacious, and audacious humanity

The grace of a three-year-old dealing effectively with fingers being where they should not be by splitting off from his body and developing another person inside his person who takes care of him

The grace of a gay man being beaten by his lover, who finally punches back and dares to challenge the question, “Doesn’t that mean it’s not really domestic violence because you’re two guys and you took a swing at him too?”

The grace in the ability to fold into ourselves to expand beyond measure inside our skin so we can hide quietly for days in a closet in order to not be found.

The grace of a fist raised in the air in silent opposition to subjugation with so long a history that some have absorbed the myth that oppression is normal, like the air we breathe. But the fist remains an unsettling beacon reminding us that there is, in fact, a different way to be

This coping is phenomenal.

A remarkable silent witness to the versatile, creative and captivating epitomes of survival and resistance.

When a wolf gnaws her own paw off when it’s caught in a steal trap, this is brilliant snarled gnashing coping.

When a little girl, whose pain remains unnamed, ignored and dismissed feels that pain begin to swell inside her like a rising wave, and so she lashes out kicking and cutting, banging and punching hoping someone will hurt her enough to make the pain stop…this is coping.

When a woman is told to be quiet so many times that she learns to hold language inside her like a cyst, letting it feed on silence so she doesn’t forget how to speak, this is tragic and brilliant coping.

And all of us, each and every superhero struggling to gain purchase inside our collective souls has some bad-ass coping to do…we have to tangle with toxic air and toxic baby toys; a food chain poisoned by greed and psychological chains disguised as pharmaceuticals; prisons inside institutions and businesses inside prisons; we, all of us, need to remain compassionate while holding ourselves accountable for every last micro moment of abuse and hate

These superheroes inside us, who are holding their breath are ready to exhale and they are as recondite as the methods of our survival and healing and they love the complicated messy humanness of our coping. They, like all of us can, have learned to love the brilliant tangled mystery in a web of humanity, that while suffering tremendously still dares to dream big and bold and brilliantly of a coping that takes us beyond survival, beyond managing and management towards a vision of liberation where coping is not a superhero but a pedestrian rite of passage into a world that is capable of loving all of us. Equally.

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