The air conditioner is in. Three of them in fact. One for each room of our rooms, excepting the bathroom. To me this speaks of something to do with comfort and discomfort. What am I willing to withstand?
As a kid, we never had air conditioners. I remember having a conversation with an older friend on a hot day about the heat of summers past. Of hotter days he remembered from before I was around. An earnest version of “in my day we walked to school uphill both ways;” from a nine year old to five year old.
You’ve gathered that I’m now caught in the currents of a judgment that will arrive at something close to toughen up, you don’t need all this stuff. It’s an easy judgment to pass on myself. There’s a voice in my head both willing to do the judging and another that is will to shoulder the judgment. That’s an odd dynamic isn’t it?
But voice two isn’t really as subservient as I’d like to imagine either. He’s typing away with the feigned equanimity of a self-help influencer and hoping to balance things out so it’s fine to use the AC, or at least see what happens if the air conditioner is used. (It’s not going to be turned off).
What makes this hard to bear is this is all sort of a metaphor. A man, George Floyd, died in Minneapolis yesterday after being arrested by a group of policemen. In video one officer knelt on George’s neck. George protested he couldn’t breathe. The officer remained unmoved for five minutes. George fell unconscious and died.
On the one hand, perhaps there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the comfort wrought by the air conditioning, my skin color. On the other, something is deeply wrong. I am sitting here in the comfort of my apartment not breaking a sweat. And still, my self-judgment does nothing for me or for anyone else except perhaps to announce “I’m aware!”
A friend I admire was out in the streets of Minneapolis last night. An action. She mentioned the writing of Resmaa Menakem in a post today, another action. Another person mentioned he’s offering a free course right now. Anyone could take his course, or read a book of his and that would be an action.
Another thing a person can always do is ask; “What can I do?” “How can I help?” These are questions that signal the willingness to take action. Before long who knows, a person might find themselves out in the real world, no air conditioning to be found, doing work; breaking a sweat.