When I was in high school, next to all the anti-war posters — I was a hack pol very early and was warned that Army Intelligence had purloined the membership list of one of the Boston area organizations I belonged to — there was a blue felt banner with Schroeder from Charles Schulz’s Peanuts on it.
“I feel the need to have the feeling that it is good to be alive,” the hanging said.
“I love mankind. It’s people I can’t stand,” was another quote from Linus Van Pelt, who, like me, kept part of a blanket close at hand for a long time.
It is now many decades since I left that room, but those sentiments still echo. They are the thoughts of introverts, of people who need their distance from the crowd to find their own centre, of people who know scarcity.
I know that as a manager, I was faulted for not being enough of a cheerleader to the troops. Some troops may have respected and appreciated my honesty, but I was not the one who could offer the motivational uplift that keeps hope afloat even on rainy days.
Possibilities are fragile things, much easier to break than to get past the nascent stage. It’s easy to be a nitpicker, even easier to just be a naysayer, unable to even let the dreams of others penetrate into your own imagination. Your own view of the world is bounded for reasons from your own experience to your own fears to your own expectations, so it takes work to not let those bounds trounce possibilities.
Incubating the not yet manifest is a sacred task which requires balancing fine questions with extreme patience.
Can someone who comes from the place of separation and scarcity ever lead others to possibility and optimism? Can they collect & hold the dream shards of others? Can they help to recrystallize those shards into whole and present dreams that can be made manifest?
Can they reflect moments of delight, the jewels that shine through the mess, creating playful structures to release the crud of everyday living, allowing almost lost and very fragile dreams to inflate enough to start to take flight?
If you do not believe in transcendence and pure transformation, can you ever nurture the transcendent, unique, different and, yes, queer heart that lies at the centre of so many humans? If you are centred in the conventions, can you ever foster more than the conventional?
It has been vital for me to hold encouragement and affirmation for those whose dreams have been battered, even as I feel my own possibilities lie broken and waste. I know that they don’t need to carry my stuff in their own attempts to transcend convention and expectation.
I need to believe that the world is changing, that people will break through the barriers that left me shattered, that is my job to empower and nurture others who still have enthusiasm and resilience to try what I have tried and failed, because they may succeed, may create new possibilities in the world. A world moving forward, persistence and a new attitude will eventually foster change, and I want everyone who still has breath and hope to take wing with that hope.
I know that my commitment to queer requires me to affirm the choices of others, even if I would never make them for myself, as long as they are consensual. I know that my commitment to spirit requires me to bless the success of others rather than be jealous.
It’s almost impossible to be your own cheerleader. Someone holding belief in your possibilities becomes a source of power even when you feel the pain of a big slam.
I know my own loss, and yet I know my own obligation to nurture the dreams of others, even when they are just shards that need thoughtful reconstruction, my obligation to be tender with dreams rather than be a balloon burster. We need our dreams, even if they will change shape as we grow.
I also know my own need to feel that it is good to be alive, to trust people rather than just mankind. And I know my own struggles to find someone who will cheer for me beyond their own conventions and fears.
It is good to be alive. People can be amazing. I know that these things are true. But when you have to do it by yourself, well, those things are still as hard to believe as when you were a kid, or at least without help.