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hurting like a cat
Episode 238th August 2022 • PowerPivot • Leela Sinha
00:00:00 00:11:53

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We are trained to isolate like cats when we're hurting. We are trained to go off by ourselves and pretend that nothing's wrong until we can emerge whole and beautiful and sparkly-- and you know what? That is bullshit. That whole system is bullshit it's not working and we gotta stop.

Transcripts

Leela Sinha:

What I don't have left is just anything. I don't

Leela Sinha:

have anything left. Just anything. Just anything I...

Leela Sinha:

this clover here. It doesn't belong to me. But I can touch

Leela Sinha:

it. This breath, the taste of my too-dry mouth. I can taste that.

Leela Sinha:

I can almost remember to breathe on time. The feeling of my

Leela Sinha:

tongue right before I speak, my toes pressed against the floor.

Leela Sinha:

That's only one thing I can touch. But it's one thing more

Leela Sinha:

than no things. The slight rustle of my clothes, against

Leela Sinha:

the cables that make the sound work. I don't know how people do

Leela Sinha:

it. They keep having, they keep having something. Something to

Leela Sinha:

offer, something to do, some hope, some place to go, some one

Leela Sinha:

more step. I don't have one more step. Not one more step. Not

Leela Sinha:

even one more step, not one more drop of water to turn the mill.

Leela Sinha:

I don't have one more. One more. One more. I don't have any more.

Leela Sinha:

I don't. I don't have any more. And people always look at me

Leela Sinha:

like, well, you just gotta find one. And I'm like, no, actually.

Leela Sinha:

No, actually, I don't. And that's the hard part. Because I

Leela Sinha:

think people think that we have to. That there's some kind of

Leela Sinha:

universal life force that tells us to persist. And I am here to

Leela Sinha:

tell you that that is not the case. And that just telling

Leela Sinha:

people to suck it up doesn't actually get you anywhere. And

Leela Sinha:

that if somebody is going to the trouble of asking for your help,

Leela Sinha:

you might want to consider what will happen if you don't?

Leela Sinha:

Because yes, that is your responsibility, even if you

Leela Sinha:

don't know what to do or say. Get in the mud with them and

Leela Sinha:

collaborate. Start digging around together, find something.

Leela Sinha:

Give them the experience of not being alone. The problem with

Leela Sinha:

our world more than anything else, is infinite solitude. This

Leela Sinha:

alone alone alone-ness where everybody is supposed to solve

Leela Sinha:

their own damn problems. Is it white western colonialist? Of

Leela Sinha:

course, it is. Probably other cultures, too, at some point did

Leela Sinha:

that. But it didn't work out well for them either. Because we

Leela Sinha:

don't know very much about those. Mostly we know about

Leela Sinha:

history, and prehistory and ancient ancient oral history.

Leela Sinha:

Thank the gods for the storytellers. Mostly we know

Leela Sinha:

about people who did in fact, find a way to take care of each

Leela Sinha:

other and of themselves, to problem solve together, to

Leela Sinha:

collaborate, to share. We joke in the queer community about

Leela Sinha:

passing the same 20 bucks around and around and around, and

Leela Sinha:

sometimes it's 50. And sometimes it's five. But we do that,

Leela Sinha:

because if you have been down to your last 20 bucks, you know

Leela Sinha:

what it means when someone hands you a $20 bill. And so even when

Leela Sinha:

you only have 40, you hand over a 20. And then you get in there,

Leela Sinha:

in the mud, in the muck. You get in there in your hip waders with

Leela Sinha:

your shovel. You bring your friends, you tie yourself to a

Leela Sinha:

tree so you don't fall in and you start digging. We're trained

Leela Sinha:

to isolate like cats when we're hurting, we're trained to go off

Leela Sinha:

by ourselves and pretend that nothing's wrong until we can

Leela Sinha:

emerge whole and beautiful and sparkly. And you know what? That

Leela Sinha:

is bullshit. That whole system is bullshit. It's not working

Leela Sinha:

and we got to stop. It's not really even a system. It's a

Leela Sinha:

lack of a system. It's a response to the emptiness around

Leela Sinha:

us. When you feel like there's nobody to help you out. You

Leela Sinha:

don't reach. You just go find a nice cozy spot to die. And we

Leela Sinha:

have lost so many good people that way and we are every day on

Leela Sinha:

the brink of losing so many more. It's got to stop. It's got

Leela Sinha:

to stop.

Leela Sinha:

But what is the alternative when everything seems hopeless and

Leela Sinha:

bigger than we are? The alternative, the alternative is

Leela Sinha:

more creativity. Pour more creativity on the fire. More and

Leela Sinha:

more and more, make the flames go to the sky. Reach around them

Leela Sinha:

until your arms grow long enough to wrap themselves redwood-big

Leela Sinha:

all the way to the edges of the circle. And beyond. Because

Leela Sinha:

there are people standing in the shadows that you don't even know

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are there. It's got to stop. We've got to change the way that

Leela Sinha:

we approach stress and strain and isolation. That bullshit

Leela Sinha:

line that goes around about you are the average of the five

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people you spend the most time around. Lord, that may or may

Leela Sinha:

not be true, but it doesn't matter. Because what's not true

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is that averaging yourself up at others' expense is the right

Leela Sinha:

thing to do. Is that setting yourself deliberately apart from

Leela Sinha:

people who are struggling is the right thing to do. Is that

Leela Sinha:

deliberately creating classes and cliques is the right thing

Leela Sinha:

to do. Don't you dare cut people out of your life just because

Leela Sinha:

they're having a hard time. That is not how community survival

Leela Sinha:

works. Give them space if they need space. Give them support if

Leela Sinha:

they need support. And if they're asking for help, get

Leela Sinha:

creative with them, get their permission, get their consent,

Leela Sinha:

get to know where they want your intervention and then bring all

Leela Sinha:

of your tools to the table. You got a weed whacker, you bring

Leela Sinha:

it. You got a roto-tiller, you bring it. They need help with

Leela Sinha:

their garden. And once their garden is growing, it will feed

Leela Sinha:

the whole neighborhood but you've got to get your ass in

Leela Sinha:

gear. And sitting on the sidelines looking with disdain,

Leela Sinha:

or shrugging and helplessness, is not going to help. Sure, put

Leela Sinha:

on your own oxygen mask first, but then reach over and put

Leela Sinha:

someone else's mask on them. Don't just sit back satisfied

Leela Sinha:

like you did the oxygen mask thing while somebody next to you

Leela Sinha:

gasps for air. How dare you? I know you think you're tired. I

Leela Sinha:

know you think you're out of everything. So am I. So is

Leela Sinha:

everyone right now. None of us has a whole spoon. None of us

Leela Sinha:

has even one whole spoon. So we all need to be reaching

Leela Sinha:

together. We cannot.... we cannot isolate for preservation.

Leela Sinha:

Self-preservation by itself is meaningless. It is only

Leela Sinha:

community preservation that will move us forward and community

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preservation happens on every single level from the molecular

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level on up. Community preservation is the only way to

Leela Sinha:

go. And if you run an organization, run a business,

Leela Sinha:

lead people, have a lot of followers on social media:

Leela Sinha:

gather your people. And help them know how to do this. Help

Leela Sinha:

them know how to take a little bit of what they have, even if

Leela Sinha:

it's only 20 bucks. Even if it's only five, even if it's only 50

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cents, take a little bit of what they have and drop it in the

Leela Sinha:

pot. So that somebody else can get what they need. It's not

Leela Sinha:

fiscally irresponsible to do that. It's community care to do

Leela Sinha:

that. And that is how we change things. That is how we get out

Leela Sinha:

of this habit of hiding like cats waiting to die. That is how

Leela Sinha:

we get out of this habit of feeling that when we reach there

Leela Sinha:

will be nobody there. That is how we get out of this habit of

Leela Sinha:

having to wonder what would happen if our lives fell apart

Leela Sinha:

tomorrow. If everything that co-supports us disappeared? What

Leela Sinha:

would happen next? What would you do next? How would you act

Leela Sinha:

next? What would, what would open a door, a window? A

Leela Sinha:

moveable ceiling tile even if you go all Mission: Impossible

Leela Sinha:

on it there has to be something out there that makes the Mission

Leela Sinha:

Impossible actually possible. And that's what community is.

Leela Sinha:

And that's what people provide. And that's why we have to do

Leela Sinha:

this together. And if you're a business owner, double true, and

Leela Sinha:

if you're a community leader, double true.

Leela Sinha:

We got to do this together, which means you got to model

Leela Sinha:

that. You gotta model that reaching out, you got a model

Leela Sinha:

that I don't know what to do, but I'm showing up. You got a

Leela Sinha:

model that. What do you need? Creative problem solving? Let's

Leela Sinha:

creative problem-solve right here in the comments thread. So

Leela Sinha:

maybe somebody else gets an idea. So maybe somebody else

Leela Sinha:

knows that there are people who help. So we change not just the

Leela Sinha:

material reality for that person, but the worldview of

Leela Sinha:

everybody who's watching because if people are watching you, you

Leela Sinha:

can change that. You can change the world. You can change what

Leela Sinha:

people believe, but you've got to do it. You've got to

Leela Sinha:

participate. You've got to engage. disengagement is the

Leela Sinha:

most toxic thing we have. We've got to keep each other

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