Gritty Compassion

Today we received our first Quest2015 prompt from visionary guide Jen Louden:

Grit without compassion is just grind. What would be most fun to create this year? How can self-compassionate grit support you in that creating?

Before I can answer that question I need to tell you about another project I’m working on besides quilts and poetry and attempted novels. It’s called the Apocalypse Garden. I first conceived of the Apocalypse Garden nearly a decade ago, back when I was still working in high tech and barely had time to sleep, much less create.

It started as the name of a type of garden I wanted to grow in the backyard of my then newly purchased San Francisco Outer Sunset house. I was already interested in prepping by then, and wanted to create a sanctuary of sorts. The garden would combine food, pollinator ecosystems, a few flowers just for beauty, and what I called survival plants which had multiple purposes, like bamboo which provided shade and screening, edible shoots, and strong stems that could be made into furniture or tools, or soap lilies the bulbs of which were used like soap by Native Californians, also had medicinal purposes, and were roasted and eaten by the Miwok people.

After I sold the house I found myself gardenless, but my dreams of an apocalypse garden went on–evolving from actual garden to apocalypse-based short stories to a broader vision that combined apocalypse fiction, prepping, history, and current events. This past October, feeling uninspired and stressed with the projects I was working on, I decided to mix things up by taking a month off to focus instead on something fun and interesting. And with a 31 day blogging challenge and a URL I bought in 2008, I took the first step toward transforming my apocalypse daydreams into a reality.

Now 62 days and 61 blog posts later, I have an ever-solidifying vision that looks forward through the lenses of speculative literature, film, and art, plus history and science, to take a closer look at what our possible future may hold, using it as inspiration for bringing to life our own visions, creations, solutions to help us survive, or better yet, avoid, the catastrophes that have already begun to plague our world.

So, with all that big context in mind, the most fun thing for me to create this year would be… harder than I thought to pin down. My first thought was:

  • Designing a line of reclaimed/recycled fashion, accessories, and other gear focused on meeting the challenges of a variety of possible future climates and cultures

But while it would be amazingly fun, it’s not really a priority. The priority for this project would be:

  • Creating an evolved version of my blog/site that meets the new vision

And of course I can’t give up my quilt making or poetry or finding ways to earn enough money to pay the rent. Maybe if I tie it all together, I can fit it all in…

And therein lies my biggest challenge–too many ideas pulling me in too many directions. Which means, the way self-compassionate grit can support me is by helping me find my true focus, determine and hold fast to my highest priorities, and let go of the time-sucks, outdated habits, and other distractions that no longer serve me, no matter how fun or interesting they may seem.