I feel like driving out to Newark, New Jersey to give Mayor Cory Booker a massage. He’s inviting people over to his friggin’ house. For meals and showers and television. For real. He’s amazing. I’ve had a crush on him for a while and became a fan of him on Facebook several months ago, and he’s been one of the best additions to my Facebook newsfeed. Before Superstorm Sandy his daily posts were inspirational and they still are, but man the boy has amped it up. He says things like:
Tough times don’t always build character but they usually do reveal it. Thanks to all who are lifting themselves by lifting others.
Battered but not beaten. Without power but not powerless. We stand strong. We stand together. We will persevere.
“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” C.G. Jung
Be of service today. Help another. Call and check in on someone you know. If you can, deliver supplies to a senior this morning.
The biggest thing you do today could be a small act of kindness.
These days his posts are not only inspirational, but also informative. He tells people where to bring flashlights and batteries, where there are seniors who may need help, what shelters accept pets.
I’m following him on twitter now, and at close to midnight on Thursday someone tweeted, “We have had no power since Monday & it’s been freezing with no heat! Please help!?” Minutes later he responded, ““Where are u? Can I bring blankets, etc?”
He tells us:
When they say you are less
Know you are MORE
When they tell you to crawl
STAND then SOAR
They can’t defeat YOU
Only YOU can beat YOU
So don’t hold back. Let your SPIRIT loose.
Let everyday be a testimony to your highest TRUTH.
I can’t find the above attributed to anyone else, so those may be Mayor Booker’s original words. He quotes Picasso– “Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.”—and reads Langston Hughes’ poetry. I hope you’re not doubting him, but this guy walks the talk too. He’s been a mentor for a long time and he wrote about it in Mens Health.
Did I mention I have a crush on him? Did I mention I just found out he’s single and forty-three? I know I’ve mentioned how smitten I am with Missoula, but can’t you see me in Newark? It isn’t as big of a stretch as it seems; my mother and grandmother live in Queens, just twenty miles away. Of course that twenty-mile trip would right now take hours if it was even a possibility.
Gas stations are out of gas, a few of the subway lines just started running, and if you don’t have somewhere to be you should just stay out of the way. The other day my mother reported that she talked to some people in her neighborhood who were on a bus for three hours trying to get to Manhattan, but who got off because it was futile. People were peeing on the bus, and an older woman tried to pee into a plastic bag.
I’m so glad that my mother and grandmother didn’t lose power or sustain any damage to their property, though other relatives on Long Island did not fare so well. I can’t imagine seeing my belongings floating in my house, and it makes the wicked forest fires of this summer and fall seem like no biggie.
Count your blessings.
These are tough times, and it’s been a challenge to feel joy these past few days. I’ve certainly felt happiness—in a nice walk with a friend, in a deep hug from another—but in the wake of Sandy true joy is out of reach.
I remember how I felt after the December 26, 2005 tsunami in Thailand, the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and Katrina. That’s a short list, but these are the natural disasters I remember feeling deeply. I couldn’t just go on with my everyday piddling when so many were paralyzed.
Somehow it feels wrong. I can sort of enjoy the little things—cooking a meal, cruising into the gas station, turning the heat up to 68 and taking a hot bath—but not without twinges of guilt. But what could I do, from here, to assist the east coasters who’ve been ravaged? Nothing, really. Can I do more for my community? Absolutely. Tomorrow I’m going to donate books and CDs to the Humane Society for their upcoming fundraiser. While I’m there I’ll drop off towels and blankets to keep the animals cozy as the days grow colder. I’ll also be attending their Pizza for Pets fundraiser in a few weeks, but that’s all passive. It’s not enough. I need to be more active and engaged. And I will.
I’m inspired by the selfless and courageous acts up and down the eastern seaboard. Just like hate can breed more hate, love can breed more love.
Here’s “There is a Dream in the Land” by Langston Hughes in its entirety in case you skipped Cory’s video, which I hope you didn’t.
There is a dream in the land
With its back against the wall
By muddled names and strange
Sometimes the dream is called.
There are those who claim
This dream for theirs alone–
A sin for which we know
They must atone.
Unless shared in common
Like sunlight and like air,
The dream will die for lack
Of substance anywhere.
The dream knows no frontier or tongue,
The dream, no class or race.
The dream cannot be kept secure
In any one locked place.
This dream today embattled,
With its back against the wall–
To save the dream for one
It must be saved for all.
I’m not sure where this picture was taken. One source said NYC and another said Hoboken, NJ. That’s not important at all; what’s important is the way that people are extending kindness and generosity to each other.