Living on Mackinac Island: Loving Life

This bouquet — with petals falling, car keys and whistle for emergency situations strewn, and work postings in the background — reminds me of Joni Mitchell’s gorgeous song Carey (“We’ll laugh and toast to nothing and smash our empty glasses down.”) Both the photo and song remind me to be with life in a soft and celebratory way when everything is not yet worked out.

My July 17 post listed challenges to societal well-being in a description of Mackinac Island (consumerism, militarism, unjust immigration policy, racism, and rural poverty). You could get the impression I was against them. I still am . . . .

Partway through this summer I became convinced loving life is as important as is protesting it, perhaps more so. When I say “loving life,” for me this does not mean sitting beside a pool with a favorite drink in hand and cucumbers on my face, sighing, “I love life.” I mean cultivating within myself a spirit of celebration, tenderness, effervescence, nourishment that makes life more worthwhile, worth fighting for. I am shifting out of living from a spirit of disgust and desperation about certain aspects of society around me into living out a try at lively counterbalancing.

Quakers (I am one) are rooted in protest and also in the idea of listening to and living into “the virtue of that life and power that [takes] away the occasion of all wars” (George Fox, 1650).

Midsummer, I began working on cultivating in me softness and creativity which, transmitted around the world, would make life more worthwhile. (For me, here, “more worthwhile” equates to more freedom and less sadness and pain for each person.)

I still protest. I aim to live in protest of that with which I disagree. And I want this protest — including through song — to be in a spirit that itself helps to shake off shackles of enmity and fear. As Rev. angel Kyodo williams writes:

“We cannot have a healed society, we cannot have change, we cannot have justice if we do not reclaim and repair the human spirit. We simply cannot” (2016, p 97).


Published by clairebatesmusic

Conscious analysis and loving transparency illuminate tender, gutsy, bluesy folk when Claire plays and sings. Claire Bates gives from her heart songs for hard times.

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