Where I got served My First Cup of Concrete, Yosemite National Park.

I spent last week with a group of Australians working on some strategy to help restore the world’s ecosystems. It was a complete privilege to do that work and needless to say, a real challenge as well. But I’ll spare you the details of my day job, I wanted to tell you about the best turn of phrase I picked up from them.

“I need to have a cup of concrete” one of them said, when he was complaining about his knee pain. I couldn’t for the life of me decipher what that meant. “It’s what you say to people when they need to harden up. Especially what women tell men.” That just cracked me up. It is so much better than saying “man up” which is what I’ve heard more often and a totally inaccurate way of going about it, not to mention misogynistic.  

This morning, also at work, I was talking with someone that was struggling with telling a difficult truth. I found myself on a bit of a soapbox and in the middle of my speech I shared with them that maybe they needed to have a cup of concrete. And then I explained what I meant and where I got it from, and it made them laugh as well.

The truth is, in my communities and circles, especially at work, I am surrounded by people who are genuinely committed to transforming the world, to end white supremacy, the patriarchy, inequality, and manage for climate change in a just way, to name just a few of the things where we focus our energy. And in these communities, many of us walk around on eggshells out of fear of saying the wrong thing, of being insensitive, of not being woke enough, of perpetuating the system, forgetting that a deep and clear truth is that life can suck and it’s no one’s fault. Just to be clear: most of the time, most of our struggle is a function of an oppressive system that wants to keep us down. But sometimes, life just blows because it is also part of Her nature.

Because we are in intense denial about the nature of life, we avoid anything that looks like death. The cycles of birth, death and rebirth are ignored and we go about our lives convinced that we can just focus on birth and growth, birth and growth – literal and metaphorical – and ignore death and decay, “podredumbre” or rot, as if we could really have life without it.

The truth is that parts of life are uncertain, uncomfortable, painful, sad, exhausting, and a bunch of other stuff that we associate with negative things. And that doesn’t mean that anything is wrong or that anything needs to be fixed. It just means that the vast diversity of experience available to humans comes in all different shapes and flavors and we prefer some over others. I, for one, have a huge fear of my loved ones dying. I genuinely want all my friends and family to be alive forever, and accepting that this is not a possibility does not make it my preference. It just means that I need a cup of concrete to help me enjoy their life and company and shitty moods and random fights to the fullest, while we all still can.

In the same way, it’s a fact that not all jobs can be 100% awesome all the time, that we need to compromise in life and that openness and flexibility don’t make me a sell-out, that sometimes I have to do things that I would rather not because I’m getting paid to do a job and I want the money more than I want to not do the thing. This doesn’t mean that I’m out of alignment, that I’m betraying myself or others, that I am upholding a corrupt system…it can mean that, and I am committed to be ever watchful and aware of my motivations and behaviors. But more often than not, it just means that life can be tough and unfair and painful, and if I want to live in a way that I feel proud of, I need to just have a cup of concrete with my morning coffee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The truth is that parts of life are uncertain, uncomfortable, painful, sad, exhausting, and a
bunch of other stuff that we associate with negative things. And that doesn’t mean that
anything is wrong or that anything needs to be fixed. It just means that the vast diversity of
experience available to humans comes in all different shapes and flavors and we prefer some
over others. I, for one, have a huge fear of my loved ones dying. I genuinely want all my friends
and family to be alive forever, and accepting that this is not a possibility does not make it my
preference. It just means that I need a cup of concrete to help me enjoy their life and company and shitty moods and random fights to the fullest, while we all still can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the same way, it’s a fact that not all jobs can be 100% awesome all the time, that we need to
compromise in life and that openness and flexibility don’t make me a sell-out, that sometimes I have to do things that I would rather not because I’m getting paid to do a job and I want the money more than I want to not do the thing. This doesn’t mean that I’m out of alignment, that I’m betraying myself or others, that I am upholding a corrupt system…it can mean that, and I am committed to be ever watchful and aware of my motivations and behaviors. But more often than not, it just means that life can be tough and unfair and painful, and if I want to live in away that I feel proud of, I need to just have a cup of concrete with my morning coffee.

 

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