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Hold The Vision

There are two parallel universes emerging right now.

One living in and with a pandemic and one merely annoyed by it.

Day after day I get messages from friends and readers whose lives have been turned upside-down, while their newsfeeds boast of an unaffected population, still going to clubs and birthday parties and vacations to Tulum.

I’m watching as hope erodes into an attitude of, “What’s the point? Why bother? No one cares. Help isn’t coming.”

I’m watching people I love decide that their voice doesn’t matter. Their art is not important. Their goals are unattainable.

I don’t have advice. I have a plea.

If you’re in the above category (whether as a result of the pandemic or life because allthethings): I beg you not to give up on your vision.

Instead, please give up on trying to change people who don’t want to change or convince people of reality they don’t want to see. Give up on the commitment to the status quo. Give up on wanting to be seen by those who refuse to see you. And most importantly: Give up on the belief that who you are and what you want doesn’t matter.

It matters.

I’ve been doing some digging into my own family history and I can’t find very much since most of my family was lost to genocide. But I did find one guy who moved here in 1870 from Russia, my great great grandfather. The documents I was able to recover paint a picture of The American Dream. A go-getter with a can-do attitude, who made it work, supported his family, and rose up against all odds.

His story isn’t interesting to me.

(It’s also not true.)

The one I want is his wife’s.

The one that history erased. The one that shows her with 6 children in a walk-up apartment in a country in which she knew no one and didn’t speak the language. With a spouse that wasn’t home ever and whom she barely knew when she got married. The one that tells me what happened to her heart after she lost a 9-year-old while having 5 other children in the house. Was she literate? Could she read? Did her neighbors call her “hysterical”? Was she a jerk to people? Was she kind? Was she angry? Did she want this life? Did she even have the privilege of thinking about this or was she caught in survival mode, getting water from down the street and sewing clothes and baking bread from scratch? Could she sing? Would she have wanted to? Did she dance? Did she know she moved to a country divided by ideology and war and racism and hate? Was that her experience of it? I can’t find anything except some census documents and her name (which wasn’t even her real name).

Two years ago I asked you to write for us.

I’m asking again.

The quotidian details of your life that you feel like don’t matter, matter.

Your dreams and desires and the things that feel SO FAR out of reach right now, they matter.

For reminders of that, please see Audre LordeEdith EgerVirginia Woolf, and Viktor Frankl.

We hold the vision, and live in reality.

Do not lose the vision.