This mess isn’t going to clean itself up

Dear President Biden,

Last night was one of those nights when my feet just wouldn’t warm up. Does this happen to you?

I was wearing wool socks and it wasn’t that cold, but after rubbing my feet together and willing them to warm up for a bit, I finally had to admit that I wasn’t going to be able to sleep if I didn’t do something more about it. All of the hoping/willing/rubbing/stalling was pretty silly, actually, because on the shelf of my nightstand is a pair of (fugly, green) fleece “socks” that always magically warm my feet almost immediately. They were right there, not three feet away, but for some reason it felt like such an inconvenience to reach over and grab them, get my feet outside the covers, remove the ineffective socks, and don the fleecy ones.

But then I did it.

And then my feet started warming up.

And then I thought how silly it was to have gone through all the things that I know from experience won’t actually work.

And then I realized this is part of how I (and probably lots of other people) do the “human condition” deal – having what I need right there but resisting doing the thing that would address that need because….


Maybe this time the foot-rubbing (or whatever) might work?
I don’t want my feet to be colder for even a minute during the sock exchange?
Maybe I can sleep with cold feet this time?


I know this is a first world, silly, self-indulgent example of not taking care of business – not taking care of myself – but for some reason it feels important to unpack it for myself (and you). It’s not actually that I expect this unpacking exercise will inoculate me from ever going through that whole hesitation-to-don-the-warm-fleece-socks again – I know myself too well – but as elusive as it is right now, it feels like there’s a bigger truth here, that somehow this silly mini-ordeal is emblematic of something.

Or maybe (probably) it’s just a means of distracting myself from all the shit I can’t control – like the young, successful Black people who died by suicide this past week (Cheslie Kryst and  Kevin Ward ) or the young Black man, Amir Locke, whose home was raided at the crack of dawn this morning by Minneapolis police and shot to death. Or like the fact that legions of people understood 50 years ago that we couldn’t go on trashing the planet but we did it (and continue to do it) anyway. Or how the use of eminent domain and gentrification have been (and continue to be) modern day land grabs not unlike what my forebears – and perhaps yours – did to Indigenous people for hundreds of years.

So yeah, it’s absurd that I mentally thrashed around over my cold feet and spilled a bunch of electronic ink over the fleece sock dilemma, but it’s probably better than a lot of other things I could do to distract myself from the mess that is US.

May we all be safe and warm.
May all who are complicit be willing to face our collective shame.
May we be strong enough to get to know it, name it, and address it.
May we accept that this mess isn’t going to clean itself up.

Tracy Simpson

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