Outside the Circle

Cindy Milstein

Halves of a (W)hole


When one faces being torn apart on the home front, one’s self is torn apart. That is only half the heartbreak: the loss of one’s ability to be as self-loving as usual. What also bleeds out, as twin dis-ease, is one’s ability to stay as conscious of being good and caring toward others, especially those one most loves.

This is not who or where I want to be, in a world where finding ground is, as I well know, a constant battlefield. Yet this is the human condition most of humanity is compelled to inhabit at this moment in history. That is precisely what we resist against; what we experiment to undo. And I want to practice goodness, especially under the worst of conditions. That’s when it matters.

We forge trust, bonds of love, by finding our way back to some temporary autonomous ground together, by being our full selves, whole and halved and sometimes ripped apart. It’s who sticks by us that matters, but that includes one sticking by one’s self, and who one strives to always be in this world, despite the odds against becoming, being, and remaining whole and humane.

I should be better schooled in withstanding the enemy of fear, of uncertainty, of having life disrupted by forces out of my control — the same forces that dispossess so many others. It’s at the core of why I remain a freedom fighter, or aspire to live up to being one. I know I’m stronger than this; that I am warrior with heart. I know — I thought I did — how to mourn and grieve well, as key to how to personally and collectively mend this damaged world.

But so many of us are fragile, too, despite our grit and courage, from the determined relentlessness of all that gets stolen from us, crushed and torn to bits beyond recognition.

It is that recognition that offers potential to pull our pieces of self together, toward others, as the gems of what we could and should be: that we are still human enough — oh so tender — to intimately feel the pain of this broken society.

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(Photo by Cindy Milstein, street peddler’s wares, SF Mission, 2015.)


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This entry was posted on January 26, 2015 by in Dispatches from Gentrifying San Francisco, Dispatches from Life.
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