Take a Breath

A friend of a friend posted a great statement on Facebook about taking a breather. It’s worth repeating:

Sometimes music requires players or singers to hold a note longer than they actually can hold a note. In those cases, we were taught to mindfully stagger when we took a breath so the sound appeared uninterrupted. Everyone got to breathe, and the music stayed strong and vibrant…. [When we protest]…Let’s remember MUSIC. Take a breath. The rest of the chorus will sing. The rest of the band will play. Rejoin so others can breathe. Together, we can sustain a very long, beautiful song for a very, very long time. You don’t have to do it all, but you must add your voice to the song. 

And then, a few days later, I realized I myself was in need of taking a breath. Our Bread & Roses posts went into autopilot (some of them I schedule far in advance) and I tuned out what was happening during the legislative recess (I live so far away that it was impractical to participate in the protests and town halls that were happening) and I BREATHED.

I paid attention to my work, my daughter, our garden, and a myriad of other things that were very important in our lives. I skimmed the news, but didn’t beat myself up when I didn’t catch important happenings until a few days later. I sat back, breathed deeply, and watched the chorus sing. Y’all are beautiful, by the way.

I think that a lot of people new to activism think that activists have to be crazy-intense and always political. When I was young, I knew activists like that. We had intense discussions over beers about “selling out” (we were in college, and soon would take on the world) and how we would stay true in the long-run. Know what happened? Those crazy-intense people? Turns out they were just crazy, and they ended up dropping out of the movement. Those of us still in it some 20 years later (good god, is it 20 already?), we learned to take deep breaths.

Taking a breath is not: 

  • ignoring an immediate campaign because it asks you to stretch
  • backing away from a conversation because it is hard
  • something that should last for months and months (unless you struggle with mental illness, and then it takes however long as it takes)

Taking a breath is:

  • trusting that you are part of a larger movement
  • taking turns
  • restorative
  • retreat and reflection
  • regrouping
  • regaining balance
  • necessary

Finding balance is hard. Sometimes you gotta flail your arms a little to get back in the right place again. That’s Ok. Don’t feel bad about it. It’s not weakness; it’s necessary. It’s part of the process. Stop, take a breath, re-organize, and dive back in.

I’ve been saving great articles that I read during my mini-break, and those will be coming your way soon. We’re also working on featuring conversations with activists about how they stop to breathe, and what they do to recharge. Great stuff coming your way, folks! And all thanks to a deep breath.


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