There is a stretch of land on my husbands family’s property that as you walk you hear a very distinct sound beneath your feet. If you have never experienced this before you might not even notice that you are walking on top of something, but you would be wrong. For many years ago my husbands grandparents used this part of the land as a “dump”. Anything metal or glass was pitched into this part of their land and over the years leaves and roots have covered the debris. The coverage is minimal, the new layer of dirt is only about an inch thick. As you walk along this stretch of land you can hear a light crunching. It is the sound of aluminum pressing further into the earth, glass descending deeper into the topsoil. One could assume that walking on glass would break all of it immediately, but you would also be wrong.
Our last visit to the land was right after Earth Day and while we had done an Earth Day cleanup in our own community the kids and I decided we wanted to cleanup this part of the family land. We started with the obvious piles and then I began to notice the sound beneath my feet when I was in certain sections, so I started to dig and unearth all kinds of treasures.
Some was plain old garbage, broken pieces of cans, bottles, old mattress springs, an old hairbrush but there were also copious amounts of glass bottles that were unbroken. Vessels that were completely useable, so I did what I do best, I started collecting them. By the time the kids and I were done (and it is by no means done) we had nine contractor bags full of glass and metal. One whole bag was coming home with us for me to reuse. My husband would insert an eye roll emoji here! I have a tendency to not be able to pass up “usable” items.
I did a lot of thinking and pondering as I spent the day clearing, cleaning and unearthing things that were not where they belonged. This is in no way a judgment on my husbands grandparents, they were part of a different time in history, a time when caring about the planet was not on everyone’s radar. It was a time when landfills were commonly in homeowners backyards, but it got me thinking…
What is it that I do that my kids and grandkids will look back on and say “goodness how did grandma not know about that, how could she have not realized the damage she was doing”? I’m certain that Patrick’s grandfather never imagined his granddaughter in law cleaning up his garbage pile at some point in the future, and yet here I was.
I pondered how I can show up better, how I have an obligation to the future generations to make good choices even when they are not the most convenient choice for me. I thought about what I am not even aware of, what are are my blind spots?
Then George Floyd was killed.
I have always been a proponent of equal rights, and of the black lives matter movement since it’s inception. I understand white privilege, and acknowledge that I benefit from it. What I didn’t understand was how unknowingly, I was contributing to this system. I am reading the book Me and White Supramacy, interestingly I took it out from the library the day before we were quarantined and it had been on the floor of my bedroom waiting to be picked up. Now was certainly the time!
This book has forced me to see my blind spots. It has made me look at all my “good intentions” and “acts of kindness” and realize that sometimes even with the best of intentions, I am screwing up. Sometimes I make judgments and say things that are culturally inappropriate. This book has made me realize that I have to do better. This book has made me realize that “this” is my dump. This is one of the issues that my ancestors could look back upon and say “Grandma why didn’t you do more, how could you say things like that”?
When I was thinking about walking on broken glass I couldn’t help but to think of how talking about racism feels like you are tiptoeing on broken glass, trying not to get cut, uncertain about the terrain, not always knowing what way to go. I think the reward is the same as the unearthing of the beautiful unbroken containers, finding wholeness in others and ourselves.
And into brain tumor news… I decided to go and have the 4 month MRI during the Covid pandemic because the amount of cases in WNY had been decreasing and that peace of mind was important for me. My results came back and the tumor is stable at this time, they did not detect any growth. This is of course great news! The eternal optimist in me (sarcasm) doesn’t want to get her hopes up until the one year MRI. At diagnosis the doctors me that this type of tumor grows on average 1mm per year and that any growth less than 1mm cannot be detected in an MRI. I guess that leaves me wondering if it is in fact growing, albeit slow, but just has not shown up since it couldn’t be seen yet.
I currently view my life in six month increments, just get to the next scan and then reassess.
My goal for the next six months is that I am going to do my damndest to show up better for my nonwhite friends. I am going to try hard to clean up “my dump” now so that no one else has to deal with it later on.