The latest word in the shops is that the top fashion houses are working on dresses with pockets. They are handy and make layering with pocket-less cardigans and sweaters and easy option. There is a historical tie to the suffragette movement where pockets were first introduced. In a move away from restrictive Victorian era dresses, pockets were used to make a conscious move away from depending on men to carry things, like their purse. Unless, of course, you are the type of woman who likes having a man carry things for her 😉
It has been 20 days since my first post and 15 since the government announced that it decided to participate in the world again. Things have been happening so fast that it’s taken my mind time to sort out my thoughts about what’s happened. I feel I’ve consolidated my thoughts in a way that captures my experience of recent domestic events. Time has also given me clarity of what this blog is to me, what I want to communicate and how it will be communicated. The end vision is clear in my mind, I just don’t know how I’ll get there yet. For those of you who want to engage in a thought experiment with me I’m open to feedback and comments. I don’t have a label for what will be created in this process, but one will come. Till then, I begin with my first thought. Perspective.
First, let me catch you up on what happened since the last time I wrote. I went for a wonderful ride on the 12th. I have to ride about a mile from my barn before I enter the National Forest, so I had some nice time to get quiet with my thoughts before I crossed the threshold into public land. Marking that threshold was a new sign.
You can’t see it in the picture, but in small text at the bottom is says something indicating that it was posted by the US Forest Service. In the time of blogging silence between now and my first post, I’ve been thinking about the sign, what I imagine the forest service intended it to mean, what I imagine it could mean and all the things between that I briefly entertained in my mind.
I see two dominant thoughts communicated in the sign. I became aware of the initial thought when I assigned meaning to the image of the trees. I felt a wave of grief flow through me, creating a felt sense of powerlessness to stop the destruction of the forest on my own. Nature has become sacred to me, as I experience an increasing degree of inner peace each time I emerge myself in nature. I wanted to find something I could do to preserve that which is sacred to me. Next I saw the aforementioned text that communicates that the image was created by US Forest Service. My grief turned to amusement because in that moment I became aware of where the grief was coming from. In my experience where thought comes from provides a wealth of knowledge, as the source of the thought provides context. I was amused because the grief vanished the moment I knew where it was coming from. I don’t allow the government to have power over me like that. I don’t fear it, so why should I grieve? In that short moment it was laughable to me that the federal government would assume that it was nature’s keeper and protector. It only is nature’s keeper because We the People who created government give the government permission to.
Here is where my thought experiment began. I separated the two thoughts (we have a choice about whether nature lives or dies, and that the government is nature’s protector) into separate parts. I already rejected the validity of the second thought in my mind due to the absurdity of it, which simply left me with the first one. I have a choice about what happens to nature in the future. I already know that I hold it sacred, so I’m left with the question of how. When I allowed my mind to travel further down the experimental path I had the thought “Well, even if the government shuts down we’ll be fine. There’s enough people who care about this in the community I’m in who care in a similar way that I do about preserving nature that we’ll figure out a way to connect.” Then I thought, “Fuck, everyone who just got furloughed already has all the knowledge needed to keep this system going. Those of us who care just have to figure out a way to support them, so they can continue to keep doing what they already know how to do. We’ll be fine.”
The experiment kept running.
I thought about how everything that the federal government provides could be provided by the people the government trained. We don’t need the federal government, but we do need each other.
It was with this thought that the experiment turned on itself and I was led in a different direction. I wondered to myself “If we don’t need the federal government, then why did we create it?” To answer this question, simply look at your interpretation of American History.
It is here I turn the experiment to you for a while. I know that this premise is based solely on my interpretation of what I see in the sign. I know there are other ways of seeing it. To me, that’s what’s beautiful about this whole process. The sign can mean whatever I chose it to mean. What does it mean to you? I’ve already decided what it means to me based on my understanding of American History and my place in it. More will come in the future, but first some context…
I was just trying to look up maps to help plan for a trail ride with my horses I’m taking tomorrow. I already have some, they’re at the barn. I can just plan it out tomorrow, so no crisis there. Here’s my crisis – My need for maps tonight led me to the internet to look up National Forest and Bureau of Land Management maps. Google led me to the National Forest Web Page which posted a notice about how the “lapse in funding” affected services. It amused me to see how diplomatic this section of the government is being with it’s language by not pointing fingers at anyone higher up.
Next I searched BLM land to see if it was affected. I found a link which brought me, instead of to the BLM, to the Department of Interior web page (http://www.interior.gov/index.cfm), with a link to the proposed contingency plan during the government shut down. I couldn’t get my map!
May I officially record that I, Charissa Schmidt, have just personally been affected by the US Government shut down.
The BLM had just given me someone to point my finger at in this moment of intimate personal offence. In my anger I didn’t point towards the Department of the Interior, but The President.
In response to this perceived block of freedom of information I got creative and googled “can I hike on blm land in Oregon?” (Yes, I used the question mark and everything, knowing full well that it’s completely unnecessary. I needed the ? to mark how earnestly I wanted to find out the degree of jeopardy I would be in if I dare tread on nationally funded lands tomorrow). Google eventually led me to the Oregonian newspaper which reported how national land in the sate may be affected (http://www.oregonlive.com/travel/index.ssf/2013/10/us_forest_service_national_par.html).
Honestly haven’t even read the whole article yet because I skimmed to the heading that affected the area I wanted to explore. I just wanted what pertained to my needs. I found the information I was looking for to justify going on my ride despite the shut down, but out of curiosity kept skimming. I read that Hoodoo will most likely not be affected, but that’s not saw. What I saw in my mind was the possibility that it may be affected but is not yet. Curiosity led me to the HooDoo website (http://www.hoodoo.com/) where they were reporting their normal seasonal closure, but again my mind read “HooDoo is closed.”
It wasn’t long before I sent a text to my boyfriend that read;
I was trying to look up maps to plan out tomorrows ride and realized it’s all closed. The national park website gets redirected to the dpt of interior web site. The gov is really down. HooDoo may not open this year. That may effect the economy here hard.”
Here’s the thing. I’m not mad about it. I still got my needs met. It was inconvenient, but none of my plans for tomorrow changed. Even if they did and I decided it wasn’t worth trespassing on Federal land during the shutdown, I’d still be okay. I have an area I can ride in on private land and my needs are still met. I’ll be okay.
Despite knowing that I’ll be okay tomorrow that wasn’t enough for me. Somehow I created a narrative where I became personally offended, blamed someone I don’t even personally know, harbored anger towards him then sensationalized the issue with gossip. The government shut down started in my mind the moment I became afraid of it. I didn’t notice fear in my consciousnesses until after I reflected on the text I had just sent to my boyfriend.
I don’t know what emotions or tone of voice you the reader projected onto my story. I did mention some emotions I felt, but I don’t know how you experience those emotions. Sometimes I don’t even know how I experience my emotions. I know what I intend the tone of this post to be. I know what the tone is in my own head when I read it back to myself, but I still don’t know, nor can I control, how you will respond. Here’s the interesting thing to me, I don’t know when I became afraid, but I do know the moment I became aware that I was afraid. I became afraid of the government the moment it could possibly affected my perceived economy, I don’t even want to know what’s going on in your head right now as you read that line because I know a secret. Emotions don’t last forever. I’m not afraid anymore. I was for a while. I probably will be again in the near future, and I didn’t even come close to sharing all the different flavors of emotion I experienced while writing this post.
I know I’ll still be okay because I’ve decided to not be afraid of this. I’ve been through worse and I know what I can handle. I’m confident we’ll find a way through this as a country. Even if things look apocalyptic for a while “We The People” are the government and will continue to be at the end of what ever transpires within our nation and in the world. I know how I’m going to get through what ever life throws at me next. Do you?