“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” -Arundhati Roy, War Talk
Does anyone else ever look back at past versions of themselves, and wonder, “wow”? Fourteen—that might have been the year in which I thought I knew the most, or at least, the year when I thought I would figure out my questions, find answers, and be able to share them. And long before that—five?—looking at tadpoles, entranced and bored at the same time, and when we’d catch a few and bring them back to the tank at home, I’d forget about them in all the other brightnesses of the world until I suddenly saw their new little legs. And then I’d stare, watch, want to see how it had happened, but it had already happened.
I hear people asking if the world could be different. When I watch a certain way, that’s what my Facebook feed looks like: a series of how did this happen, a series of look where we are, a series of how does this change. Could we have different systems for safety, education, incarceration, elections, housing, wealth? Could we? I love how Arundhati Roy flips the question around in her answer We can’t not. It will be different (it is different) though we might not know how, though how will grow from what we do now. Listen, and you can hear her breathing.
In my ten years of teaching, I’ve seen conversations spiral in and out from one central thought: “the way it is” is not the way it is. This, what we’re doing, is one way: one changing moment in one bouncing creek in one cultural landscape fueled by the rains of one set of circumstances. This is not forever: it’s only now for a moment. Perhaps it’s easier to see that through oneself: I’m not the thirteen year old, lost in Huckleberry Finn, and I’m not the 25 year old in Oklahoma, and the last months have been an intense spring/summer seminar in how staying is not staying the same. I want to see that in myself, to be open to the breathing, and I want to see that when I look around me, too.
Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, can’t you hear her breathing?