Over the weekend terrible things happened. And many people I know were devastated and angered. And they wondered where they would find the energy to fight darkness. I know I did. My life is hard. I am a single mom to two kids dealing with their own special needs. I am self-employed. I am a full time student. I struggle with depression and anxiety and numerous nebulous physical symptoms that leave me tired before I even begin to deal with my immediate responsibilities, let alone fighting injustice. My friends and I talked about this as we drove down to the vigil here Sunday night (“I’ll go if you go.” “Okay I’ll go if there’s coffee”). We all agree that we don’t have to attend every single event, we don’t have to do All the Things Every Time. But we also agree that it hurts not to. We are not sure how to balance that. t what point is it legitimate to not do An Important Thing, and at what point should we try to rally for one more rally?
I don’t have the answers.
But a funny thing happened at the vigil. It’s almost stupid it’s so blatantly obvious, but I swear I am not making this up.
We are standing there lifting our candles and singing “This little light of mine/I’m gonna let it shine” and my candle starts to go out. Just mine. Some small breeze wound through the crowd and hit my flame, but not the flames around mine. So I brought my little light down and sheltered it until it was strong again, and until the little breeze went away. When I lifted it up, it shone as strongly as those nearby. The Universe was reminding me how community works.
The estimation was that more than 1,000 people attended this vigil. Not every one held a flame, and sometimes our flames needed tending to, or went out entirely and needed to be refueled by a generous neighbor. But look at the crowd. Look at all those lights. They are working together and it is not obvious whose flame isn’t lit at this moment because, as a community, we are strong.
I still don’t know the answers. I don’t know where the line is between when I’m legitimately too tired and when I can push myself a little farther. I’m sure I’ll have to reassess every time. And I’m sure I’ll make mistakes sometimes, either pushing myself too far or not taking my turn when I can. But so long as we just do our best – our honest best – the community has got our backs.
Looking for ways to contribute? These links have some ideas.
5 Valuable ways to use your white privilege to fight anti-black racism
Women’s March: How to get involved
Get involved in the fight for black lives