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Hi friends, this is Ashia Ray. This is the Raising Luminaries podcast and it’s episode three.
Oh, man. I actually pronounced all of those correctly. I hope.
Okay, so today we’re gonna talk about… I don’t know how to be just a little bit less shitty. Yeah.
Okay, so it’s November 2 And I don’t know about you, but our celebrations of death have mostly wrapped up. We celebrate Halloween. We do not celebrate the Hungry Ghost festival. And I know Dia de los Muertos is wrapping up or wrapped up this morning, I guess. But now we’ve done the, I guess the fun celebratory part, to kind of prep us – a pre-mortem for grief and things dying and passing and the season ending. And now it’s actually time for [death]. The yucky part of it and the grief and the sadness to start.
For us, near Boston. In Wampanoag and Massachusett territory, we are entering winter and this is, for many of us, we get seasonal affective disorder and ramp-ups in anxiety and other fun things like that.
So I was thinking, Well, how do I get out of bed? I don’t know about you. If that’s hard for you. For me, I feel like I should have figured it out by now after almost forty years on the planet, but no, I have not. It’s very hard to get out of bed. How do you get out of bed? How do you get through the day, knowing that you’re going to make a to-do list that you’re not going to scratch the surface of. And you’re just going to be constantly falling behind and it gets just…much much harder this time of year. It gets incrementally harder through basically February.
And I I know there were times and days where I’ve woken up and I have managed to get out of bed without a big internal struggle. And I know that there have been days where I’m energized and full of ideas and moxie and ready to go and gonna make stuff and save the world, and smash the kyriarchy!
But this type of day and this type of weather, and this time of the year, not so much. And it’s just hard to remember – I don’t remember at all.
[Loud children singing in the background]
Those are my children singing. Constantly.
It’s hard to remember. I told myself that these days happen and they will happen again, even though I can’t remember them and I can’t even conceive of that happening. So in keeping with the theme of what we’ve got so far – you know, we started out with why it’s important to start out with your first terrible pancakes. Oh gosh, I can’t even remember what we discussed last time. But today we’re talking about how to be just a little bit less shitty because today is not… today’s not a big-goals day. Today is just a… get through the day. Get through the month, get through the winter, and try to do less harm and be a little bit less shitty than you need to be.
So the cool thing about being on podcast three (because we all know no one makes good podcasts right off the bat.) And if they are, they’re lying, and they’ve secretly made other crappy podcasts. So the cool thing about being one of the six listeners who follows podcast three is we don’t know where this is gonna go. Is it going to go into world domination? Like 100 episodes from now? 10 years from now will it be like wow, remember when that was just really terrible. And in the first episode, there was construction sounds and you could barely hear and then in the second episode, there was a cat licking her anus. And then now, now it’s a good podcast and it’s turned into good things that have done nice things for people. But right now we’re on three. And my only goal right now is to not capture too much construction noise and keep the phone very far away from my cat’s anus.
And that’s basically the best I can do. Right now. I can’t keep my kids quiet. I can try and not to clear my throat too much, but it’s going to be hard. So world domination, or! Maybe this is just the start of me becoming slowly unhinged, and you get to witness that. And honestly, that sounds a little bit fun? Like if I do it not too sad of a way. So that’s the fun part about starting shitty. This third terrible pancake that is just slightly less shitty than the previous ones.
So I made a little list. Okay, if we want to be just a little bit less shitty, how would we go about doing that? And the main thing that I try to do is dive into the pain of reviewing what you did yesterday and analyzing what you did wrong.
In the Luminary Brain Trust group, we do Friday Failure parties. Emphasis on the party because otherwise, if we’re not at least pretending to party about these failures, then it just gets too heavy. So every Friday, you know, review all of your failures this week. And this isn’t something that people are forced to disclose, but being the person who initiates the conversation, I do have some accountability and having to really bring up and unpack and discuss the bad decisions I’ve made and the terrible consequences and how I just, you know, kind of whiffed it or destroyed things or… it’s very unpleasant, but it keeps me from doing them again! So there’s that. And this is a weekly practice, it has to be on a schedule and it has to be accountable where other people are gonna know if I’m kind of falling behind. Because otherwise – why would you do that?! It is so painful!
So that’s step one of how to be a little bit less shitty, is do the very difficult, unpleasant work of analyzing what you just did, kind of like these podcasts where I listen to them one time and I cringe through them, and I make some transcripts. And then I pick one thing that I could do that’s a little bit less bad. Like, keep the phone away from the cats.
The other thing, the second thing that we can do to be a little bit less shitty, just a little bit, not a big ask. It’s just accept the circumstances, not obstacles, which you know, are things that we need to navigate and get over or obliterate. But the circumstances that we just can’t change.
I can’t change that there’s no vaccination for kids for COVID yet. I can’t change that. The public schools in my area are not designed for my kids. I can’t change the fact that we can’t afford childcare. Or actually, the back of my house is falling apart because we have water damage, can’t change that. Um, but that’s more of an obstacle. I can’t change the fact that we can’t find anyone to help us rebuild it.
What I can do is just accept ‘Yeah, the house is falling apart. Hooks are falling out of the walls. Mirrors are breaking. The kids keep just hammering holes in things.” I don’t even know how they get hold of these hammers. Just the entropy of the universe is happening. And I can rail against it and fight against it and get upset or I can just accept. Yes. Things will eventually devolve into chaos, and everything I know and love will cease to exist. And then you just kind of dive into that and be like, “Okay.” It’s a little bit freeing to know that ultimately, no matter how bad you feel it won’t really matter in like a million years.
So first, jump into what we did wrong. Try and identify one thing, not a billion things because then you get overwhelmed one thing we could do that better. Second, accept the entropy of the universe. And then third, except that we’ll just never catch up.
We got a house during the housing crisis, where we bought into this really wealthy neighborhood and I thought ‘wow, this is gonna solve everything. I am officially a class migrant. I’m in a super wealthy neighborhood. We’ll pour equity into this house. This was a great opportunity to buy this pre foreclosure house and then even though it’s falling apart, and a fire hazard, we’ll fix that wall! and we’ll put a floor where there’s holes! and and then once that set we’ll be ahead and we’ll just keep working and keep chugging and so long as we never take a rest and we pour all of our money into our you know, mortgage and then later child care. We will get ahead!”
So yeah, I’m just covering that’s not actually how it works. You don’t actually get ahead. So I’m coming to terms with the idea that we will never catch up. Moving into a wealthy neighborhood is never going to make us wealthy. It’s not going to make us culturally fit in. It does offer a lot of opportunities and privileges. But I just also have to accept that that’s okay if we never fit in and that’s okay if we never manage to actually do a repair on the house that sticks and doesn’t need to be redone in five years.
You know, things are heading towards entropy. We’re not going to win against that and you just kind of accept it. I know that sounds like super bummer, but bear with me because I wouldn’t I wouldn’t drag you into this without a little bit of glimmer of hope and whimsy. I haven’t identified the the hope and whimsy yet. I’m just I’m just assuming it’ll come to me at some point.
And then what is it – four? Are we on? On how to be just a little bit less shitty, is acknowledge the seasons and rhythms. so like I said before, I know that during the summer in the spring, and even the autumn I get a boost of energy. We create awesome things like family action toolkits, and we collaborate with these awesome organizations and we inspire people to start schools and move forward and end damaging habits and raise kids who are kind and courageous and speak truth to bullshit.
But right now, it’s November 2, and this is a time of just we… just lay down in the dirt and it’s just time to compost. acknowledging the season and that this is actually happening to basically everyone else I know on the northern hemisphere gives me a little bit of comfort. Because even though I am a little bit shitty right now and I can’t manage to do really anything. No one else can either and it’s actually comforting to know that it’s not entirely internally driven. I don’t think that we were meant to go-go-go in a capitalist society. Full steam ahead as if we did not need sleep or rest or support.
So if anyone else is feeling this, seasonal depression, seasonal anxiety, just know that it’s normal and there’s nothing wrong with you. It is very human, and it actually connects you to all of the other humans in the worldm who feel this way. Which is honestly I think most of us.
What do we are now five? so being less shitty? These were all very passive things one through four. just acknowledge the world kind of sucks sometimes. things come and go. And we’re all devolving into the heat death of the universe. However, we could do less harm. we could pick… we could just identify what small steps do we need to take or maybe just not-take so we can do just a little bit less harm.
Not focusing on doing no harm because honestly, that’s bullshit and I don’t think that that’s possible. If I need to make my kids a meal, and I don’t have any energy, and I can’t make it to the grocery store, I’m going to make them some boxed mac and cheese and that boxed mac and cheese is going to be damaging to the environment and our economy and probably exploits workers and there’s going to be a little bit of harm in me buying and using that mac and cheese and feeding my kids a meal devoid of nutrition.
But that’s much better than letting them starve? Or overshooting and trying to make an organic salad that wipes me out and sucks out all my spoons for the rest of the week. So do a little bit less harm. Just identify one thing where you can do slightly less harm to yourself and to those around you. And then try and be mindful of the harm that you’re doing to the rest of the world – but not so much because otherwise you’ll just crumble into a ball of despair.
Yeah, sometimes it’s better to stay a little bit, I guess small minded. So what are we on six? Yeah, so we use this – that leads us right into the proximity problem with humans which is you know, we live mostly digital lives and the people we encounter every day are in distant proximity to us. And it’s much easier to be kind to someone and empathetic and patient with them if they are in our proximity and by that I mean physical proximity, proximity of identity where they they seem similar to us, we have something in common, it’s human nature to be kinder, and more patient and that doesn’t make us bad people. It just makes us human.
So knowing that when things are tough, and we’re trying to be…not awesome, but just trying to be less shitty. We do have to focus on our immediate proximity. who are the children under our direct care that we have to care for? Because we can’t shoulder every burden in the world at this very moment. We can use this moment to be a little bit more empathetic towards our enemies. And when I think about the people that I am working in direct opposition with – it is people who focus on proximity over globalism. You know, nationalism and this concept of ‘America first’ or ‘states right first’ or ‘controlling the people beyond us so that way the people who live in my house can have more luxury and more safety and more security.’ Those are the people that kind of get my goat and I’m fighting against. So I use this time when I’m feeling at my worst to empathize with them because I know that when people are voting to take away my rights, or trying to obliterate me and people like me from the planet, it’s driven by fear and it’s driven by scarcity. And it’s driven by this sense that the people in close proximity to them are in danger. And the only way they can get through it is either to exploit or use people like me as a scapegoat.
So well, that’s not okay. And I don’t condone that behavior and I am trying very hard not to do that myself. I can use this moment to be like, ‘Right. I do remember what it’s like to feel like I don’t have enough and feel like I want to curl up into a ball and feel like everyone’s out to… not out to get me but, no one’s paying attention or would care if I died.” Trying to tap into that to have some empathy for the people who are so driven by fear and scarcity and loneliness and isolation, that they would try and harm others outside of their distant proximity.
I don’t know if any of this makes any sense. It might be unravelling and honestly, yeah, between those two things I mentioned at the beginning. Is this heading towards world domination? Is this heading towards me becoming slowly unhinged? Did I even mentioned that or was that in my head? Anyway, this definitely seems like… we’re leaning towards the unhinged. Well, that’ll be a fun romp, though! Won’t it? To watch, to listen to? Yes.
Okay, so I don’t even know what number we’re on. But the next thing we can do to be a little bit less shitty is remember that our ancestors survived so we could have this opportunity. and I don’t mean just our genetic ancestors, although, you know, props to them for making babies. But, um, you know, like our, our crip ancestors who fought for for disability rights and disability justice, who fought so that way I could have custody of my children, the right to have them and keep them and not have my custody challenged just because of my disability.
I think of my ancestors who have fought for racial justice and fought to end the Chinese Exclusion Act. For my ancestors who fought for my right to vote, my right to be a citizen here. My right to be a person on the planet, or a non-man on the internet who’s allowed to have feelings and opinions without being doxxed and attacked. These ancestors fought very hard.
And I try and remember they didn’t fight very hard so we could have an easy life. They fought hard so we could have an eas-ier life and a life with more survival and opportunities. And it would be an honor, I feel for my descendants for when they’re feeling this November 2, overcast despair if they remembered that I’m working.
[wolf howling sounds]
Yeah, he does that all day long. I don’t know if you heard the howl. Anyway.
All I ask of my descendants is that they remember, I fought really hard for you to have a few opportunities not for you to live a life of complete and utter luxury and ease. because honestly, I’ve seen what that kind of life does and it kind of turns people into turd buckets.
So this is what they fought for. This is what, you know, my ancestors sacrificed for, is for me to have an opportunity to do hard things and get through hard things just a little bit easier than they did.
And then next bullet point, they’re just… they’re bullet points now. I don’t have numbers. And my last one is that the work is the point, the unraveling, and ravelling, and the becoming unhinged and the attempts at world domination. That’s the point. and the days where we’re heading into really hard seasons and we know that things are going to get very difficult is a good time to remember that the journey is the point.
And we can be… we can kind of choose how we head into that. Like we can choose to head into that the way we go into like a good martial arts practice where we know we’re going to get some bruises. And we’re gonna fall down and get smashed in the face a little bit. But we’re here to learn and grow.
Or we can head into it like… the way that I always head to the beach where I think it’s gonna be fun? And it never turns out to be fun? Because it’s always sandy, and gross and loud and there’s like, seagulls dropping things on your head.
So you know, we go into it with our eyes open. And understand that yes, this is crappy. But this is what it means to head into winter. And that’s okay. People have fought for us to be here and fought for our right to curl up into a ball and rest sometimes.
Yeah, that’s what I got for today. As always, feel free to send me a message on Anchor or leave a message on the Patreon posts where I am posting transcripts for now until I can get public transcripts on a place someplace on the internet.
And let me know how can we make this just a little bit less shitty for the next episode? Because that’s the point. Keep trucking along and then just make things in the world, and the things we do a little bit better than we left them. Okay, bye friends.
Stay Curious, Stand Brave, and Do Something Small Just A Little Less Shitty Than Yesterday
Join the Benevolent Incendiary Society and get weekly email updates when we publish new podcasts and family action resources.