What are you going to do?

Day 96

(The photos tonight were taken by Michelle Johnsen and Wilson Alvarez at the candlelight vigil for the Conestoga Native Americans murdered so long ago. May our gathering together tonight on city streets help forge a new future. May we never forget.)

vigil by Wilson Alvarez

vigil by Wilson Alvarez

I’ve been wanting to learn to fight, physically, for a long time, and now I’m finally learning.

I come from a family where anger didn’t happen very often. Tight lips, and resentment, yes, but rage, arguments, fury were rarely seen.

Which is good I suppose, in some ways, but it also means those strong feelings are still unfamiliar to me, are awkward on my frame. Even though they may rise up, I’m just not sure what to do with them.

So I’m trying to get better at letting that anger come through when it needs to, and trying to figure out how to deal with it, what to do with it, how to handle it.

And as it rises up, it burns away some of the panic, the stuck-ness, the places in me where I hide all the scared,

the frightened,

the fear.

And one of the things I’m scared of is fighting. Physically needing to defend myself, or attack someone. I’m scared to get hit, or to hit someone. When I’m out alone in the woods there’s still this whispering little feeling on the back of my neck, like, ” is there someone behind you? You’re not safe. What if someone wants to hurt you. rape you rob you kill you…” blah, blah, blah. Because living in this culture, especially as a woman, has made me all scared and paranoid. And small.

And I’m sick of feeling that way. I hate it. I want to get big. I want to have faith in my own wits and muscles no matter what comes my way. I want to learn to defend myself, to know how to punch, and take a punch. To move my body in ways that can save my life, or the lives of others. I want to feel safe.

In fact, I think self-defense is a basic skill everyone should know, a simple insurance plan so we do not need to feel afraid.

So we do not need to look at one another with suspicion and fear,

so we can sit calmly and play all day in the sun alone and with others,

and know our bodies will protect us.

And that feels empowering,

and that makes me feel brave.

And that’s what we’re going for isn’t it?

Learning the skills that make us feel dauntless,

brave and powerful,

whatever they might be.

To push ourselves to do the things that scare us, make us feel uncomfortable, that burn up the fear we hold inside.

Let’s challenge ourselves, here, at the advent of the new year.

To make some lists of the things we most want to learn,

the things we most want to do,

the skills that will help us reach freedom.

And let’s go after those things with all of our might,

throw ourselves into understanding,

so we can look back a year from now and say,

wow, I am a new person now,

filled with life, and energy, and passion, and love,

and I am brave and bold, and balanced, and strong,

and my knowledge is power.

The power to take care of myself, my family, my community, my world,

without the help of monster machines and corporate beasts.

And let’s learn these things as though our life depends on it,

because, well, yes it does.

What skills do you most want to know? Who do you want to be?

Figure it out, make your lists, plan how to make it happen,

and let the transformation begin.

I’m learning how to fight.

What are you going to do?

Thank you for listening,



vigil by Michelle Johnsen

vigil by Michelle Johnsen



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