Coughing. I cough a lot, lately. Something's in the air and it fills my throat.
August is part of wildfire season in California. They're in the news a bunch and sometimes the bay fills with a sickly smog. I see it from the waterfront, I breathe it in, and I cough.
August is also heavy with pollen. Some years ago I was diagonsed with a form of asthma and I carry an emergency inhaler with me in case my maintenance inhaler isn't enough.
Just in case, I mean.
Some mornings I'll wake up gasping. Or coughing up something that never was there. The inhaler helps.
Or maybe its the smoke. The smoke which is not from the fires of trees but from the fires of a world collapsing in on itself. The earth is burning itself alive, which is laid before you as a factual statement; well past the point of hyperbole.
This past weekend I voluntered to be a part of the Bay Area Rally Against Hate after I responded to a call to participate in the safety team. This resolved itself into performing as a marshall around the stage truck on the day of the rally with a team of others.
The news coverage from cities afar painted the day as violent, thuggish, a bloody war between antifascists and fascists. No civilized society would dare sanction violence and shame on you for suggesting otherwise.
My experience differs.
What I saw was thousands of people come together. One place, one time. To speak out against hate, injustices, oppression; they spoke about a world without suffering. The end of poverty. The end of white supremacy. The end of police brutality.
Together, we conveyed a vision of hope and prosperity.
The park chosen for the day had been walled off by giant concrete barriers in the night. Despite the powers that be, we had a rally. Right there, in the street. And nobody was going to stop us. It was beautiful poetry read in a tongue no human can hear, but we can all perfectly understand.
The street was ours. It was everyone's.
The smoke gives me anxiety. A buzzing feeling that things are getting worse and Hey Folks We Need To Do Something About It. A feeling of isolation, alienation, disconnection from the people I love. At the rally, I did something about it. I helped create a space for thousands of people to come together. One time, one place. That's a powerful thing.
I know now. We're in this together. All of us. Together, stronger than any one of us.
Sometimes, now, I can see the sky through the haze.