I know I’ve been trying to keep this blog positive, but maybe we can’t always have positivity. Maybe it’s too naive, or disingenuous. We can aim for optimism, we can aim for strength. We can reach for that good idea that makes sense and does no harm.
What do you know? Who needs to hear it? Have you told them?
This blog has been on unofficial hiatus while I sorted out my life. By that I mean, figure out what I needed to say and how to say it. “Who is your audience” is a question asked a lot in writing workshops, and typically I rolled my eyes because my answer was, “Everyone! I think everyone should read this!”
But then, today, I heard the three questions—What do you know? Who needs to hear it? Have you told them?—in a segment of a This American Life podcast and things have become a bit more crystalized. Sometimes we are aware all along what it is we know, the deep depths of those sometimes-painful truths, and we know at least some of the people who specifically need to hear that knowledge. The struggle, then, is whether we have the strength to tell them, the compassion to tell them in a way that won’t hurt them, and the self-love to still be honest and protect ourselves.
And then where to do we go from there? Something I have been thinking about (this afternoon, in the shower) is what causes depression for me and what pulls me out of it. Among (many) other things, it is the feeling of helplessness in a harsh world, and guilt about letting nihilism overtake me in a battle to not be depressed (counterproductive, I know). So the way out of the dark tunnel is to acknowledge the tunnel, and then start walking. I’ve started to be proactive, to take steps toward something positive in a negative-feeling world.
Here’s what I know:
HIV/AIDS is still an epidemic in the United States. It remains a silent one due largely to stigma, which affects access to education and care. Here is an important clip from a New York Times article I read recently: “Swaziland, a tiny African nation, has the world’s highest rate of H.I.V., at 28.8 percent of the population. If gay and bisexual African-American men made up a country, its rate would surpass that of this impoverished African nation — and all other nations.” This is staggering, depressing, demoralizing, and embarrassing. The Center for Disease Control posted their statistics recently on their website, which paints a clear picture that not only is this epidemic targeting a specific demographic, everyone in America is at risk. One in 99 Americans will become infected with HIV. These statistics are, like many statistics, not quite accurate since it represents those diagnosed, not those who transmit it.
I need you, my readers, to hear that and so I am telling you.
I’m telling you because statistics like that go undernoticed while communities suffer, and I am trying to be proactive in 2018, after my year of moping about and hiding in yoga studios.
I hope you will support my bike ride in June, 2018 from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise money to support HIV/AIDS research, medication, education, and community support. The money you donate will go immediately to the affected communities. It won’t sit in an account online, and it won’t go to executives. This is a chance for all of us to make a real impact on the life of at least one individual in need, and hopefully many lives. I need to raise $3,000 by June.
A pledge of $54.50 is just ten cents per mile!
Asking for money is awkward, (while I’m at it, consider pitching in $3 for a month of daily haiku! That comes to less than 10 cents per haiku, a real bargain, plus you get to gaze at my poor artistry. Here’s the link to my Patreon for more info, I promise it is a good investment.) but here’s a question to consider:
How far can 10 cents take you if not to save a life (and/or support an artist)?
Sometimes it feels like the world is pressing against us and, arms pinned down, we have such little leverage to swing back at it. When the opportunity presents itself to use our strengths, even if that strength is just to pedal a bicycle long distances, then I feel like we have an obligation to ourselves and our communities to embrace that opportunity and move forward.