“Adversity is like a strong wind. I don’t mean just that it holds us back from places we might otherwise go. It also tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that afterward we see ourselves as we really are, and not merely as we might like to be.” ― Arthur Golden
This quote found its way to me through an email newsletter from writer GG Renee.
I read it over and over again for nearly 20 minutes.
The metaphor struck me.
There’s so much adversity in our world right now. The senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. Cities are in chaos. Meanwhile, we are still living in a global pandemic and Coronavirus cases continue to rise.
We are being held back from places we might otherwise go – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
And to be honest, it’s hard for me to process everything that’s happening in the world right now because I’m dealing with a cancer diagnosis and trying to process everything that’s happening in my own body.
I feel like 2020 is tearing away so much from me. The travel plans, speaking engagements, and the fun in-person See Jane Write events I’d dreamed of for this year won’t happen.
It’s even taken the little things like trips to the movie theater with my husband and Saturday brunch with my girlfriends.
Chemotherapy has taken my hair, and, on some days, it takes nearly all of my energy.
Lately, my husband has been reluctant to let me go for my daily walks by myself. Because I’m in active cancer treatment he’s worried I might start a walk one day and not have the strength to make my way back home. But the truth is every time he walks out the door, I have a similar fear; I fear that he may not make it back home to me because someone will decide his brown skin makes him a threat.
This year is trying to tear away my joy. This year is trying to tear away my peace.
But eventually I challenged myself to focus on the second half of this quote. Eventually, I asked myself “what are the things that cannot be torn away?”
And that’s when I realized that my dreams cannot be torn away. In spite of everything, I am still a girl with goals galore.
My 2020 goals are not canceled. They’re simply reimagined.
I will still strive to grow the See Jane Write Collective and the Internet will help me do that even as I have to stay home.
I will still write a book, but now I have a new story to tell.
I will still pitch ideas to my favorite publications. I will just have to take my time.
I will still move my body every day. I’ll just have to walk instead of run.
I am more than the bubbly girl with the pretty hair.
I am the girl who cultivates community. And this same community has rallied around me in ways I could have never imagined after learning of my cancer battle — showering me with gifts, bringing me and my husband dinner, and constantly sending me messages of support. And this reminds me that love cannot be torn away – something important to remember when the world is filled with so much hate.
So, I will show up for you, even when I don’t have the perfect words to say.
I will show up to encourage you to tell your story, lift your voice, and dream your dreams. I will show up and encourage you to move your body. And I will show up and encourage you to care about the world around you.
We can’t all be on the frontlines. I can’t go to any protests in Minneapolis or even in Birmingham because of my comprised immune system. So, I’m doing what I can with what I have. I’ve been praying, signing petitions, and making donations to social justice organizations. It’s not a lot, but I hope it helps.
So, this week, take the time to take care of yourself, but also make the effort to show up and show us the light within you that the strong winds of adversity could not tear away.
Ways to Take Action
Sign a Petition
Justice for George Floyd
Justice for Breonna Taylor
Make a Donation
NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund
Black Lives Matter
Equal Justice Initiative
Official George Floyd Memorial Fund
Communities Against Police Brutality
Minnesota Freedom Fund
Reclaim the Block
Black Visions Collective
Lift Your Voice
If you’re a woman with Alabama ties who has written an unpublished essay in response to the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, consider submitting your work to be featured in the Reckon Women Your Voice column. Learn more here.