Facts: We Don’t Hide Them, We Clarify Them.

I’ve written about winning an essay contest when I was in college in which I argued that we should keep teaching texts that contain disturbing content, but not to support or glorify this information but to make sure that this is not hidden or whitewashed. It was and still is important to me that no one should forget history–even literary history. Always know what has been popular or acceptable–for good or ill. It informs your understanding of how cultures evolve and groups dominate.

I do want to revisit what I just noted: That preserving the information should not be to glorify or support the negative. The awareness of this negativity should be for educational purposes. It should not be meant to continue victimization.

With this in mind, the removing of publicly displayed historical emblems that glorify those who openly fought for causes that supported oppression is a service to citizens, not a revision of history. Now, if we removed all references to the Civil War from textbooks or did not show the images of participants on both sides, we would be doing a disservice to history and to future generations who need to know the full story, from both sides. This is the only way to understand how any war or treaty is formed.

No one is asking any publishers to remove people like Robert E. Lee from the textbooks. We just don’t want to see him in bronze anywhere–outside of a museum exhibit maybe where the theme is related to the topic of misplaced investment in glorification or political monuments through the centuries. That would then be educational and voluntary viewing. Again: Adjusting the perspective is not necessarily revisionist–it is a corrective action that enables everyone to learn full content in the correct context.

There is an Opinion piece in the New York Times by Caroline Randall Williams titled “You Want a Confederate Monument? My Body is a Confederate Monument.” (https://nyti.ms/383rugG) that addresses this very concept. She and others like Playon Patrick, a young poet among other accomplishments for one so young (2020 Quarantine Killings https://youtu.be/FpFbBuZi2sM), are restoring the balance, the record, to reflect a truth that has existed and has been known but has not been fully understood or, frankly, cared about by many. I’m grateful to be able to learn what I did not know to look for, and to learn it both subjectively and objectively. I am grateful to receive this in such a masterful presentation that humbles me as a writer.

Does Your Vacuum Need to be Vacuumed?

When I reached to remove the canister from my vacuum, so I could empty it, I realized that the machine itself was covered in dust. I mean, really. Do I have to clean the cleaner? Well, I do wash the wash cloths and clean and replace toothbrushes. There are just some things that you figure are exempt from the process. Truthfully, the state of the vacuum is representative of how dedicated I am to my overall cleaning. Now that I’ve realized my negligence, it gets a wipe down too. In fact, when it looks bright and shiny, I want to reach for it more willingly.

This, of course, made me think about what else I was cutting corners on. I’ve been very ill this week and was not able to ride the horse I have come to have access to or go to yoga at all. Often these both make me feel better but I’ve been that sick. My face feels bruised when I lean over. My eyes are swollen to the point that I’m afraid my son will be scared to look at me. These days of missing my practice have made my body feel worse than the illness’ influence, and my psyche is definitely more fragile. I even had a bad people day. Didn’t have the compassion for any of us and gave up even communicating with anyone casually.

Now, taking the time to heal slowly and safely is not the same as intentional corner cutting, but this lack of flow really made me think about how off kilter other things must be. First thing to meet the magnifying glass was my writing practice. I have been procrastinating so much. I have two gigs to work on, a book proposal, and this blog on the burner. My literary vacuum is getting dusty. We must keep our intellectual and imaginative machines shiny. Not like new—writing gets better with age—–but like a well-cared-for necessary tool. Perhaps I should reflect on the state of my yoga mat or my saddle. Both looked so nice freshly purchased, but I slipped around a lot on both of them before they were broken in properly. Regular use changes this. The saddle molds to my body. The mat supports my poses. They become uniquely mine. This should be the same for writing. I may struggle with anything new or difficult but must persist until my own form affects the framework and melds with it.