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Our Opposite Future

I’ve heard the writing advice that to emphasize a moment in a scene, spend more time on it. I’ve found myself digging into the pieces of my day that are different from pre-COVID times, the parts I’ve come to love that are slower and more deliberate. I’m spending more time thinking about these moments, in anticipation that they will likely go away or evolve into something else.

Author, poet, and social justice activist Sonya Renee Taylor says of this time, “We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-Corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate, and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.”

In this time of pandemic, reckoning, and insurrection, everyday moments are showing us the new world that is possible. Here are some everyday moments for which I’ve felt gratitude in the midst of an incredibly hard time. I share these not as some 10-step guide to happiness because let’s be honest, this last year has been rough and I support you all coping in the way that works for you. I share with the hope that you have your own touchstone moments and in the future we seek new ways slow and deliberate with justice at the forefront of all we do. 

  • I wake up to the sound of padded feet clomping into my room. Sometimes a stuffed animal appears first, a gray bunny named Bunny (we keep our creativity aspirational in this household). Bunny catapults in, smacking me in the face and turns my bed into a WWE ring. My son is not far behind, hooking an elbow to my bed for leverage and wiggling up. Before he prepares his cannonball into the center of the bed, he looks me in the eyes and declares, “I love my mama. I love my bunny.”
  • I gather the garbage and wheel the bin to the end of my driveway. “AMY!” the neighbor kid greets me. “How are you? What’s new?” He catches me up on the third-grade remote learning situation and the neighborhood puppies. When they’re finished with school each day, he and his pod build elaborate forts in the snow and chip the ice from my driveway. I know all their names, and we processed the insurrection together. The newest neighborhood puppy bounds through the snow toward us, and he introduces us so we’ll be on a first-name basis, too.
  • I sit down at my desk to write a donor thank you note, and I realize it’s a memorial gift a donation made in honor of someone who is deceased. It’s my practice to read their obituary and this one stops me in my tracks. It honors his life, his successes, and struggles in such an honest, vulnerable way. I sit with the words before writing a note to his widow. I tell her that the way she told his story meant a lot to me. I send it off in the mail, which now feels like my lifeline – ways to transmit little moments of hope and appreciation. 
  • The dishes go undone for days. They sit there in judgment, folded arms while my son zooms by on his eighth lap from living room to kitchen to dining room, pumping his four-year-old legs, all knobby joints and sinew. I watch him in fascination. The dishes are piling up, but I have him here. His cheeks are so squishy and kissable and smell like strawberries.
  • I have never dusted the ceiling fan during the three years I’ve lived here. I think that every time I lay in bed and look up at it. But because I never dust it, I get to share a weekly two-hour nap with my kiddo. We sleep until late afternoon and wake up to eat pink sugar cookies with green sprinkles. “Green ones are my FRAVORITE, Mama!” he declares with pride.
  • There are plants in my mudroom (insert #mompun here) that I grew from seed: lavender, jalapeno, ivy, and succulent clippings. There are perennials outside doing hibernation duty: salvia, iris, day lilies, phlox, and hosta. They have provided a much-needed focus: the care of seedlings and rotation through the seasons from grow lights, to my sunroom, outdoors, and back. 
  • It is snowing and nearly bedtime, and my kiddo and I sneak outside to play and shovel. When the driveway is clear, I pull out a lawn chair and watch him jump into a snowbank I have just created. I deliberately left my phone inside and it is glorious – no beeps or buzzes to interrupt. Just me, watching my kid have a great time in the snow. “Mama, guess what!” he bounds up, breathless, and regales me with the adventures of Miles Morales and Spiderman’s worst enemies. 

To borrow from Sonya Renee Taylor’s wisdom, what if we sought all the opposites of what we used to view as normal in our shared present and future? Instead of greed and lack, we seek generosity, equity, rest, asset-building, restoration, connection, clarity, joy, community, love, and abundance. I find the everyday moments I’ve shared to be ways to wade into these qualities for myself. 

On a community level, what could our new future look like if we sought this good? I look forward to making it happen with all of you. 

Amelia Colwell | @ameliareads


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