Category Archives: Three Truths and One Wish

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: It’s not good to get comfortable in knowing. Just because I know something doesn’t mean I should stop learning, allow that knowledge to become fixed, solid, unmoving. Getting comfortable with what I think or believe makes me stagnant and dumb. Things are constantly changing, as they always and will continue to do, and good people are doing research, finding and sharing new information all the time. I must stay open to this, curious, because if I stay stuck in my current state of knowing, eventually I will be wrong.

2. Truth: Resisting change generates suffering. Resistance to new wisdom eventually turns aggressive, violent. Holding on too tightly to what I want to be the truth, wanting it to remain even when its nature is to dissolve and fall away hurts. And depending on how tightly I cling, how violently I resist, I can become a danger to others too.

3. Truth: Not knowing is better. There’s a teaching in Buddhism, “only don’t know,” which recommends cultivating a state of not knowing, of curiosity, and resting there. The poet Rumi describes it as a field, “beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing” and says “when the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.” Pema Chödrön says,

Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may just be the beginning of a great adventure. Life is like that. We don’t know anything. We call something bad; we call it good. But really we just don’t know.

One wish: May we cultivate a state of curiosity, opening ourselves to new possibilities for compassion and wisdom, letting what we knew, what we were so sure of, so certain about, fall away without resistance.

Three Truths and One Wish

morningdarkwalk

1. Truth: I watched Birth of a Nation a few days ago. For as long as slavery went on, for how recent it is in our collective experience, for the ways that history continues to impact us today, there are surprisingly few movies about it, and even fewer good ones. This one had a powerful message, was well made with the potential to make a big impact. As soon as I watched it, I wanted everyone to see it, if for no other reason than I needed someone to talk to about it.

2. Truth: Then I found out the movie’s backstory. Apparently, the director who was also the lead actor, Nate Parker, was accused of rape, along with one of the writers on the movie. The story is heartbreaking. The woman who accused them eventually killed herself, and her brother said, “I don’t think a rapist should be celebrated. It’s really a cultural decision we’re making as a society to go to the theater and speak with our dollars and reward a sexual predator.” Even though he was acquitted at trial, Parker’s own statement about it makes it clear he knows he did something wrong: “Seventeen years ago, I experienced a very painful moment in my life. It resulted in it being litigated. I was cleared of it. That’s that. Seventeen years later, I’m a filmmaker. I have a family. I have five beautiful daughters. I have a lovely wife. I get it. The reality is I can’t relive 17 years ago. All I can do is be the best man I can be now.” I haven’t seen Manchester by the Sea because of the sexual harassment accusations against Casey Affleck, so this is an issue that does matter to me, something that does impact my choices. I don’t want to give my money or time to someone who treats women badly, harasses or attacks them. As the victim of sexual harassment and assault myself, it just doesn’t feel right.

3. Truth: And yet, because I saw the movie first, was moved by it and saw the message wholly removed from the messenger, it’s hard to let it go, difficult to dismiss it entirely — and I don’t really know what to do with that. The same thing happened to me with my Buddhist practice. I studied and practiced and embodied the benefits of the teachings for six years before I fully investigated the head of the lineage in which I practice. What I found was a man whose behavior didn’t sit right with me, but his teachings and the community already did. It was difficult to work my way through that doubt and confusion and anger to find my way back to the dharma, but I did — eventually.

One wish: That stories of slavery and its impact continue to be told, and that the tellers be honest people we can feel good about supporting. In my future is Underground (a new TV series), Roots (the updated mini-series), and 12 Years a Slave (which I missed the first time around), as well as the movies on this list, 21 Social Justice Documentaries On Netflix To Watch. And books, so many books! (Any recommendations you have are welcome, kind and gentle reader).

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: I’ve been reading a lot lately. Because of a bad habit I picked up in graduate school, where I was required to read multiple books simultaneously, I’m currently reading: And Still I Rise: Black America Since MLK by Henry L. Gates and Kevin M. Burke, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi, Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin, Anything We Love Can Be Saved by Alice Walker, Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, and I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. (Do you see a theme in that list?)

2. Truth: Reading for me is essential. It’s one of the foundational ways that I learn. Because I’m an introvert and a highly sensitive person, it’s the best way for me to encounter new information, especially if it’s going to make me uncomfortable or confused. I need that space alone, just me and the book, (and of course, somewhere in there the author). Sometimes I think I’m a writer because I’m fundamentally, first and foremost, a reader, love books SO much that the only thing that seems worth doing, the only thing I want to do besides read them is give others something to read.

3. Truth: What we need right now are those with the courage to tell the truth. The ones who will keep showing up, no matter what. Those who will continue to resist, persist. In Notes of a Native Son, James Baldwin says, “From this void–ourselves–it is the function of society to protect us; but it is only this void, our unknown selves, demanding, forever, a new act of creation, which can save us–‘from the evil that is in the world.'” I think of those right now who are willing to risk going against society, who brave going into the void that is their own open heart — poets, water protectors, protestors, journalists, comedians (SNL, anyone?), teachers, librarians, park rangers, scientists, etc. It’s becoming clearer and clearer that these are the ones who will save us, or die trying.

One wish:  “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” May we persist, nevertheless.

Three Truths and One Wish

greenbridge

1. Truth: The past five days have been overwhelming. I shared a list on Facebook today that compiled what had happened just during the first four days of DT’s presidency, things he’d done and things he threatened to do. There were 36 things on the list, and they would have been too much if they’d taken the whole four years. People are resisting, but people are also so exhausted and overwrought that they are getting sick. Some are sticking their heads in the sand, running away, asking the rest of us to keep it down, and others are spending way too much time on social media, fighting or screaming until their throats are raw. And of course, there’s the crying. It’s a mess.

2. Truth: There are things I just can’t wrap my head around. One is that for a large number of marginalized and oppressed people, this is what it has always been like, what it’s always felt like — and I didn’t see them, I wasn’t helping. The other is that there are still people who don’t see what’s happening, and others who see it and just don’t care that other people are suffering. I keep wondering, with so much gone wrong, so much that needs attention, how do you figure out where to put your energy, your effort? I once heard someone suggest that if you want to know who you are here to serve, just notice what breaks your heart and you will find your purpose — but what if all of it breaks your heart?

3. Truth: I’m not giving up. That being said, I certainly need to start taking better care of myself. I need to make better choices, have more discipline and discernment. I have to remember that I don’t need to set myself on fire just to keep someone else warm. I need to figure out the balance between keeping my own shit together and helping. I want to remember what Pema Chödrön says, that “If we want there to be peace in the world, then we have to take responsibility when our own hearts and minds harden and close. We have to be brave enough to soften what is rigid, to find the soft spot and stay with it. We have to have that kind of courage and take that kind of responsibility.”

(More than) One wish: May we practice being soft and open, tender with whatever arises. May we stay with ourselves, with reality. With confidence in our fundamental wisdom and compassion, my we stay connected to our inherent power, be of benefit, help, ease suffering in ourselves and in the world. Yes, we will be vulnerable, at risk of being wounded, but we also in this way will know joy, experience love, encounter amazement.

Three Truths and One Wish

purple

1. Truth: I’m practicing “like my hair is on fire.” This is a phrase that is used in Buddhism to talk about the mix of a sense of urgency and the confidence to not lapse into despair. I think about it a lot, considering our current “situation.” I’m finishing up 37 Days of Activism, and just started Hard Conversations: An Introduction to Racism and Healing from Toxic Whiteness, all really great online courses. Today I’m doing Safe Zone training through the Pride Center at CSU. I started a group called the Hen House Collective to have some company during this process, to help me filter through all the information and figure out what actions to take. I meditate and write every morning, and do yoga when I can. My hair is on fire.

2. Truth: I’m trying to also take care of myself. I’m trying to keep my sense of humor, get enough rest, eat good food, not get overwhelmed or burn out. In fact, I vow to not burn out:

Aware of suffering and injustice, I, Jill Salahub, am working to create a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world. I promise, for the benefit of all, to practice self-care, mindfulness, healing, and joy. I vow to not burn out.

3. Truth: I am staying curious. “Not knowing is a prerequisite for learning,” (Patti Digh). I am trying to listen, deeply and compassionately, without an agenda and without judgement. As Pema Chödrön said, “The only reason we don’t open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don’t feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with.” I remind myself that being uncomfortable isn’t a bad thing, and try to lean in to that, stay open.

(More than) One Wish: May we stay curious and open, listen deeply and compassionately, not giving in to despair, and maintain our sense of humor even as it seems like the worst is happening. May we also have the discernment to know right action, and be brave enough to take it when necessary. May we continue to be courageous, having the willingness to be wounded, and confident in the way Susan Piver describes it, “the willingness to be as ridiculous, luminous, intelligent, and kind as you really are, without embarrassment.”

Three Truths and One Wish

purple

1. Truth: Change takes time, patience, effort. Whenever I get frustrated about how long something is taking, I remember that it can be like turning a cruise ship around — just because you know you are going in the wrong direction and need to turn around doesn’t mean it can happen right away, doesn’t mean you can manifest the shift as soon as you are aware of the need. It can take a lot of time to course correct, and if you try to go too fast, try to push it or force it or speed it up, you can sink the boat altogether. (But even though this is true, you don’t give up, you keep turning even though it looks to everyone else like you aren’t moving at all).

2. Truth: A good yoga class first thing in the morning is the best. Having breakfast with a friend you don’t get to see much right after is even better. A long voice message from a friend or a good podcast can make working out at the gym so much more fun, make it easier to stay a few extra minutes, do just one more thing. Getting enough sleep, eating good food, and drinking enough water can make all the difference. Cuddling with a dog keeps you warm in more ways than just one. Reading is the best, both the question and the answer. Knowing someone loves you, that you matter, can be the one thing that keeps you from giving up. Laughing and crying feel a lot alike. These things are all related, both magic and medicine.

3. Truth: Community, compassion, creativity, and a sense of humor are foundational. I’m absolutely counting on them to get me through.

One Wish: That you, kind and gentle reader, know you are an angel of the get through.

Every good heart has lost its roof.
Let all the walls collapse at your feet,
Scream timber when they ask you how you are.
Fine is the suckiest word. It is the opposite of HERE
Here is the only place left on the map
Here is where you learn laughter can go extinct
and come back

Three Truths and One Wish

merrychristmas1602

1. Truth: I’m grateful for Sam’s health. He has a lump on his side, and today we found out it’s a benign fatty tumor (a lipoma), not cancer. If you know our experience with dogs and cancer, you know that this is a mini Christmas miracle.

2. Truth: I had ambitious plans for today. Well, what I really mean is I meant to go to the gym. However, after meditating, writing, putting away laundry, going on a two hour walk, showering, and taking Sam to the vet, after worrying what the news would be for the past week, I came home and took a long nap instead. I was so tired, relieved but tired.

3. Truth: One of my aunts died yesterday. We knew it was coming. She knew it was coming. It was her second time with cancer and treatments had stopped working a while ago. She hadn’t spoken or been awake for the past week at least. She told my mom she’d make it until Christmas, but I’m sure when she said that, she’d planned on celebrating the day. She didn’t have the easiest life, spent a lot of it confused, and cancer is never easy, but she was surrounded and cared for by people who loved her (always, not just at the end), which is so much more than many people get.

One wish: While we are here, may we care for ourselves and be cared for by others, and when we go, may our death be easy.