Friday, July 10, 2020

Rebirth and Renewal - Stay at Home Photo Diary and Reflections (Part 2)

Our first time leaving home for a reason other than going to the grocery store was to attend a candlelight vigil in memory of George Floyd held right here in Altadena.  It was sober.  I know how I would feel if this happened to someone Taiwanese American--fearful, outraged, sad.  I am glad that we came to support our Black neighbors in mourning, but also I felt sorry that I was so helpless in the situation. 

The second time we left home was to march down Lincoln Avenue, right past our own house, in a protest for Black Lives Matter.  The energy that the protesters brought forth was truly moving, with adults and children alike.  We felt proud to live in this diverse city full of people who care.  There were many tears during the 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence observed at the end.  I realized how little I knew about what was happening in the world with Black people, even though one of my best friends is Black, that I have many Black coworkers, and that I have been working with many Black families here in this school district.  It was honestly embarrassing that I was not aware and so I made it a point to start the learning and unlearning now.  I celebrated Juneteenth for the first time, with so much more awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement and what it means for everyone.  We watched documentaries around race and engaged in conversation about systemic racism and our unique experiences and perspectives as Asian Americans in this system.  I read articles and listened to podcasts.  I talked to friends.  We intentionally went to Black businesses to get food. International Yoga Day was this month, and I thought about how applicable the practice of yoga is to activism: to fall and get back up, to stay committed, to keep breathing through the hard stuff.  This has been the heaviest month so far in the pandemic.  It's also been a time of extremely deep reflection. There was much to consider on all sides.

In the wake of grappling with the many emotions of anger, sadness, guilt, and confusion that bubbled up and overflowed after George Floyd was killed, it was hard to have any hope.  Plus, we were still stuck in this pandemic.  As hard as it was to trust that we could make the future better than the present, we eventually realized that we must find a way to be hopeful in order to stay motivated.  We had to find some light in the darkness to be able to commit to showing up as good people in our community.  We got back into noticing the beautiful life that was buzzing in our yard and cooking things in the kitchen that made us feel comforted.  The weather stayed mellow.  There were birds and squirrels doing fascinating things throughout the day.  We ordered an epic amount of mulch to keep the weeds at bay.  Also, we started another garden box because our neighbor graciously gave us two tomato plants that she grew from seed and our neighbor on the other side gave us a fully grown shiso plant. I thought of this quote that my sister painted on a garden sign for my mom, "To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow." 

Rebirth and renewal seemed to be the theme already, and then we had our little miracle.  I had taken a pregnancy test in the beginning of June and it came up positive.  Though I was afraid to hope, it was hard to ignore nature's perfect timing this time.  We learned a lot since we've started trying for a baby, maybe it was finally culminating.  Again, I was caught in cycles of feeling hopeless and excited all at the same time.  It wasn't until we had our first early ultrasound and actually heard the baby's heartbeat (at 6.5 weeks!) that I allowed myself to more openly embrace the idea.  This newly glowing life that we created could be our investment into creating a better society for all.  We hope to be good examples for them and to engage in those uncomfortable conversations at home, and though we may fall short, we feel that this is how we can impact real, tangible change.  It is easy to feel at a loss when attempting to end racism, but we can start by making a positive impact in our immediate community, and by instilling the values of empathy, civics, and awareness right in our home for the next generation.

Reflecting back from this point, it has been a year of ups and downs, but overall growth and awakening.  Flaws in the "reliable" systems that have allowed me to reach my goals have been freakishly exposed.  This includes not only my reproductive system, which I’ve always taken for granted, but also the systems underlying education, economy, environment, healthcare, crime, law enforcement, etc.  However, coming to terms with these realities does not mean canceling them out.  What good does that do?  On the Fourth of July, there was a lot of negativity on social media revolving around our democracy.  But we discussed this between ourselves and we still think that we live in a country built on the right values, and we believe that most Americans still stand for the same desires, even though there's work to be done: liberty and justice for all.  Nothing is perfect, but nothing is hopeless.  Impacting change is necessary now, but it starts from my inner self and mentality, and that is where I have the most control.  As for this pregnancy, it's worth it to have some faith in myself, too, even though I've seen failure.  No matter what happens next, I would say that this time will prove to be a turning point in our lives, where we are thinking beyond ourselves a lot more than we had been before.

And just like that another one-and-a-half months in quarantine have passed.  The days feel slow, but there is some comfort to that.  With the possibility of adding to our family on the horizon, we are taking all of this in more than ever.  Cooking elaborately, tending to the yard, doing yoga, completing house projects, working without interruption, are all things that we might miss.  Our perspective has widened a lot more in the last few weeks, and though there is much to improve upon, there is still much to be grateful for.

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