I'm simultaneously nostalgic and relieved to be back in Austin after that whirlwind trip to the Midwest. In Part 1 of our Indiana Adventures™ to Camp Palawopec, I was super excited to share some of the special moments that happened at a place that was so meaningful to my development. What I omitted in acknowledging, and also what is omitted from the photos below in this post, Part 2, are my feelings of exhaustion, sleeplessness, and sadness.
Before I get started, I apologize for temporarily turning a photo blog into a journal entry. For those that don't see our day-to-day life, I don't feel like it's fair to only post photos that are happy and weird, but don't say much about how I'm feeling behind the camera and how that's affecting my abilities to be a good husband, dad, and friend.
I've been in quite a funk lately and I'm troubleshooting how to dance my way out of it. Since the inauguration of our president in January I've had feelings of being overwhelmed and of being helpless. It often feels like the wars that many in the GOP are waging are against the innate Christian values that I was raised with*. Instead of inviting the most-vulnerable to the table to share in our feast, our politicians (and at least 46% of voters) have decided that the most-vulnerable in our communities should be condemned to the fringes of our societies, to jails, and detention facilities. That they should be robbed of medical care, voting rights, family planning, economic assistance, education assistance, school lunch programs, protections against hate crimes, and no longer allowed to dream of citizenship.
It's felt like the incremental gains in the rights of people of color, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, and people without economic opportunities are being tossed away like the chaff from the wheat. And all my feelings of helplessness, and sadness, and fear just came to a head two weeks ago (...and I know that as a white, married, cisgender, educated, insured, man of economic privilege I'm the least vulnerable to the current administration's policies).
In a lot of ways, volunteering my photography over the past 7 months has been my way out of my sadness hole. It's allowed me to interact with just FRIGGIN' AWESOME people like the folks at Central Texas Pig Rescue (blog post), Healing with Horses, Caritas of Austin, Austin Justice Coalition, Muslim families in Houston (additional blog post), immigrant families in Austin, LGBTQ families in Austin, The Trail Foundation, The Blanton Museum (blog post coming soon), Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, and Casa Marianella. Opportunities I most-likely wouldn't have sought out without feeling the clouds of oppression that this administration has held over our vulnerable communities.
So, I guess that this is a two-pronged post: 1) I want to acknowledge that I'm profoundly sad on a day-to-day basis for the folks whose livelihoods, rights, opportunities, and families are under attack; and 2) that the best way I've found to bring myself out of my funk is to volunteer and get involved with awesome people and organizations.
I love you all. Thanks for reading! Keep making the world a better place for the people in your communities!
*I was raised Catholic until middle school when I dropped out of the church all together. However, culturally, I still feel very attached to Catholicism (like going to sanctuary, volunteering, helping the most-vulnerable, and giving what you can to those that need it most) though I'm sure many would not find what I practice to be Catholic/Christian. I hope that I embody a good portion of Catholic ideals like selflessness, humility, and helpfulness on a daily basis.