Friday, March 13, 2009

Ending up on Solid Ground: I am seeing the Sky

1930's New Orleans
Ending up on Solid Ground: I am seeing the Sky

I seem to appreciate more & more lately ones who are “arm chair quarterbacks” ones who while in the comfort and sanctity of their home assured that their world is alright to dictate how other people should live or how if they only did this or did that everything will be ok. And the beauty is you never have to really do anything but just talk or wave the remote energetically for a minute and then that’s it. I read today, an observation of someone who despite the fact had not been back to New Orleans in 2 1/2 years & his assessment of what had or had not been done since he moved somewhere else. What I found interesting was though he have chose to stay away (justifiably so) was the things he said about his hometown and what had not happened since he had been away.

What resonated with me was the things that distressed him seem to be the very same things that had been talked about in the restaurants the stoops, at cocktail parties for years prior to Katrina. And his expectations of how things should have been further along then what they were in 3 ½ years after a major catastrophe that nearly leveled this vital city that is still struggling on wobbly knees to simply stand up let along take the ball & run in such a short period. I understand that we live in a microwave, texting, twitter world where we expect things to be instant. ‘Taint necessarily the way it would or should be. Not now… Not yet.

Transformation takes a lot of time, a lot of time. Its painful, messy, crazy, frustrating makes you wanna give up and give out process. There are no shortcuts, no easy out. . So for him maybe it seem like no steps have been made, no improvement. I've have been down quite frequently t o New Orleans while working on my Changed Waters-Reinvention & Repurpose Katrina Project until the monies ran out & the economy took this God awful descent into madness, but even I had not been down in several months. But I can safely say though slow & painful there has been improvement. I do not know how anyone realistically can expect for a 300 year old city to be rebuilt in 3 1/2 years. I stay in frequent contact with people who are in the trenches so to speak, some who immediately return some who are the visionaries who came for a once in a lifetime opportunity to aid in doing something bigger then themselves and a host of others.

I remember a Chinese proverb that simply stated “Barn burned down... Now I can see the sky”. I believe right now in this right place that New Orleans is in a prime place not offered often to others to be the model for the rest of the country & possibly the world to show how it can be done & do it with style. How many of us have cheered on big or little screens or knew individual despite all that seems insurmountable, despite it all, manage to get up and get out and get on with taking care of their business doing despite all the odds? And we privately may be cheering for them though vocally we say nay, it cannot be done? And then, by George, they do it?

Crime? What place does not have crime? I live in pristine 92% white folks living in a supposedly higher standard of living and yet one the biggest industry here outside of the University is marijuana & crystal-meth. Where homeless population has doubled in the last year, the panhandlers who have basically ran most of the businesses downtown out are young fresh face white kids who should be in a classroom and not on the corner, where racism is as rampart here though they tout themselves as being progressive & liberal, car theft & home invasions have doubled yet the police force has been reduced. Where an absolutely gorgeous 600 million dollar state of the art hospital that looks more like a mansion for a gazillionaire was built in the adjacent town but they just laid off a huge chunk of their staff & I say what the diff is?

Complaints about crime in New Orleans is as common as "throw me a coin, mista" at Mardi Gras, but we are hearing nationwide of people murdering their families, going on rampages, robberies shooting up, Ponsey schemes and people riding luxury jets while the masses are eating cake. I believe it is human nature for people to have a blind’s eye what is happening in their back yard but use another area as the scapegoat. I get it.

Yet I do not know of a person who has regretted returning back home and more are coming, despite the naysayers. Now I am not being naive about very real problems plaguing because if is real but I have had more negativity here in Oregon then I had ever experienced in New Orleans. Racism in New Orleans, shucks that anger has been festering there forever. As in “keep 'em ignorant and poor and high on drugs so the quo can remain status!!” I've experienced more of it here in 4 months then I had in the 10 years I was home. And that is not to bash Oregon it is to illustrate there is a moral sickness everywhere perhaps in different degree and New Orleans does not even have a patent pending on that!

I am however paying attention and listening & reading and asking before I make that move I am not foolish or unwise. I need to have my ducks in a reasonable row & then after that it will be walking on air with an assuredly that at some point I will land on solid ground. I do know as Dr. Martha Beck stated in her book “Steering by Starlight” all of us have a stargazer in us who knows what our purpose and design is. We are not doing ourselves or anyone a favor by not going through with that purpose where ever that takes us…

The Bible does say "without vision the people will perish". There would not be us if someone had not had a dream...Our enslaved ancestors would not have been able to survive such a horrific experience as slavery if they had not had a dream. If they were not to live to see it come to fruition, they dreamed big and hard for the ones to come. Or my fellow citizens of New Orleans, if they had not had a dream after the Katrina catastrophe, would not be able to get up day after day to rebuild our beloved home despite what appear on the surface evidence to the contrary.

Or even I continue to dream and to plan for myself I know now it is time. I cannot tell you why or how, but only that it is time. Sometime it may be something as simple as sharing bounty. Too many of us, moi included, at one time or another operating from a modularity of deprivation because it was easier then leaning into my passion & fully engaging in it. Others wallow in it, reveling in it turning into an art form, believing if they give “it” away, that it will deprive the giver. Still others lived in world of cultural laziness unwilling to step into themselves opting to live a lie, sadly wanting to house you too if you want it, not caring or knowing that the giver's bounty will increase 10 fold when freedom in giving manifests itself.

We have lived in a culture of deprivation for so long it may seem totally unfamiliar or surreal that we could possibly be truly in the right place at the right time for a (not so ) new paradigm. However that is their story, mine is this one.

I remember hearing Senator Maxine Waters on the news with this quote: A rising tide lifts all boats”. So I say it all depends on what boat you want to float & be in and if you get in the wrong one, get out and climb aboard a’nother. And wait for the tide to rise & carry you/me the rest of the way at some point ending up on solid ground.
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