Sunday, October 31, 2010
On Sunday there was the panel for one of the final activities of the "Blossoms and Thorns" events which brought me together with the co-authors of "Wherever there's a fight"; the history of the ACLU in the State of California." We are pictured here (without proper lighting) all-in-a-row - Historian Donna Graves, Stan Yogi, Elaine Ellinson, and me, in what turned out to be a fascinating discussion about civil and human rights.
The event was held at the East Bay Methodist Church. The congregation is primarily Japanese/American and the church serves as the home of the Japanese/American Historical League; our hosts. The audience was thoroughly engaged and responsive from the introduction to the closing words.
Unfortunately, this panel came at the end of a week of relentless intensity; 3 bus tours, meetings on end, and far too many hours "on" as opposed to taking time to breathe and to return to my normal rhythms except for a few moments-at-a-time. Found myself pretty raw emotionally, and on the edge of tears throughout. I know the signs. It was time to pull back. Tomorrow I would sleep in. Begin to draw back from the edge ... .
I made a silent pact with myself to ask for ways to connect with some source of nurturing -- some place where I can interact with others in the field (interpretation, historians, social activists, black studies departments?) so that I can find some way of renewal -- so that I don't implode in public.
Would you believe that before the end of the week those prayers were answered?
It was then that I met filmmaker Dr. Shakti Butler and her noted cinematographer husband, Rick, whose work dovetails with my own in uncanny ways. We met at her invitation at their hillside home with a spectacular night view over a home-cooked dinner of delicious baked salmon -- with white wine and good conversation that I'm afraid I dominated shamefully. It was a homecoming for me. How could they have known that -- on a clear day -- I could probably have seen the house where I grew up in the flatlands of East Oakland far below?
Much more on that later.