The Value of Rubbing Elbows with Different Kinds of People…
There was a double bed and barely enough space to walk around the edges in that room. It was where my mom sewed clothes, for us and herself, when the guest room was not filled with an exchange student staying part of a year, or an obscure Aussie relative who came for a weekend and stayed for 2 months. There were many teachings that came from that guest room, from those who flowed through our lives.
In the Atlanta airport, I reflected on my Mum’s perennial welcoming of the world with curiosity, with open arms. Dad was also present…enthusiastic. But to Mum it was second nature. 10,000 miles from her home of birth, there was always room at the table, always enough food to share, always enough space for another member of the human family. Amongst many learnings, perhaps most essential was that rubbing elbows and sharing food and hearts and days with different kinds of people is inherently educational, beneficial, edifying, and fundamental to building a peaceful, thriving world for everybody. I learned that there are a LOT of different values, languages, ways of cooking and playing, of praying to, thinking about or worshiping one’s divine. I learned how to have conversation with people with different points of view and life experiences.
Pause a minute. Consider how you were raised in relation to others, those different than you. Consider how you relate now to those with different views and life experiences? How does this compare to when you were younger? To pre-pandemic
Originally, the spring trip was to include my brother, his companion, my niece and nephew. We were to visit my people down there and immerse together in legacies memorialized in the Mothers of Gynecology and EJI’s tracing of the interconnections between Slavery, Lynching and Mass Incarceration. Some personal health concerns changed up plans at the last minute. The family visit will happen another time. So I went solo and shared time with my people down south who have become non-blood family. The Browders, particularly Tracy, again welcomed me with open arms. And their friend Ms Bobbie Powell was my traveling companion, from her home in Atlanta down to Montgomery and back. Ms Bobbie and I have made that trip twice now, once back in the autumn of ’21. The sensibilities fostered in my childhood reign. They are the foundation supporting my pilgrimages to Alabama these past years. I learned the way we did things wasn’t the only way or inherently better than anyone else’s. It’s critical to see and talk with, listen to and understand other people.
One of my mentors, Aaron Johnson, founder of Holistic Resistance dedicated to anti-oppression, asserts his intention to create experiences that are ‘UN-Googleable‘. Ms Bobbie’s and my friendship falls in this category. She is a vigorous 83. Ms Bobbie was raised in share cropping rural Alabama. She ran away from home age 9, and ever since made her own way, without formal education. We often walk lockstep with her holding my upper arm. We turn heads: in her neighborhood, in the Home Depot parking lot, at the ice cream shop. We laugh about turning heads. Our time together is filled with story telling that includes gravity and lots of laughter. Even though our lived experiences are so different, that doesn’t seem block the blessings of connection between Ms Bobbie and me.
As we age, we contract and calcify; our bodies’ tissues, and often, our heartminds. I see a lot contraction and calcification in our world. I see an inability to see through the eyes of other people, and a lot of fear due to that separation. I see this in myself too. And so I keep interrupting that calcification. I keep choosing situations that invite expansion of my own heartmind, that interrupt assumptions and judgements, that place me in intimacy with those very different than myself.
Organizations like Michigan United took #45s election in 2016 as the deepest call to action to consider the many different members of their human family. They are fostering connection and understanding, between very different kinds of people, through deep listening in the interest of political organizing. How can you keep opening? keep learning? keep witnessing? keep growing? Not in an ever consuming way that renders experiences as capitalist commodities. Instead, in a way that invites pause and consideration of the world through another’s eyes, through the experience in body and heartmind of someone else. As we move forward in these wild, suffering times of violence and alienation, hardship and fear, please pause and consider today how you can reflect internally, and reach externally toward a different more understanding, compassionate, and equitable world.
Zoe’s Clinic Move in July
There are other forces on the horizon that will challenge my skills with the fluid and flexible. After 15 years practicing in the same clinic space with my beloved sister and colleague Lynn Kamatoy, I will be leaving downtown in July moving my clinic south to Burien. This is closer to home, closer to many of my patients. Naturopathic physician Susan Jones gutted and renovated a residential home into a beautiful space for healing providers. One Earth is located close to 509, 518 and 2 blocks north of the main strip in Burien, with ready access to transit and ample street parking. I’m frankly quite excited for this move.
Blessings into this spring! There is more light, even with the chill only now ebbing from the mornings. The birds feel it as they fill dawn with their mating calls and the the flowering cherry, plum, magnolias and tulips tell us too that it is coming. Blessings in reflection on my stories. As always, thanks for reading to the very end. I always welcome reflections and thoughts and encourage you to share these with others. Invoking your most vital health and grounded well-being.