The Momentum of Letting Go

A month ago I said I was going to gather my inertia and never stop.

The truth is, if you’re not already moving, inertia only keeps you there. I thought inertia could be built, that a single voice could start a chorus, but the movement of one man cannot overcome the inertia of the universe–he cannot move communities or governments by himself. No one stood with me, and after a while, I sat down.

I want to move, I want to act, to change. But when inertia holds us back, when the very world seems to pin us in place, how do we begin?

There’s a mystical insight in Judaism that aleph, the first letter of our alphabet, represents not only the infinite (for it starts the phrase ein sof, without end) but also stands for the inertia we must overcome to begin any endeavor: we know this because bet, the second letter, begins the Torah: B’reishit, “In the beginning.”

Lingering in the infinite is dangerous, for it recalls the chaos (tovavo) of that time before the beginning, and in a mess of whirling substance, it’s easy to lose ourselves and forget what we’re doing there, or what we’d rather be doing anywhere else.

To touch the infinite, to taste and kiss the infinite…but not to linger with it.

I was passionate, I was moved, I was ready to change the world. When I couldn’t capture the companionship of others, I set out on my own: I wrote my representatives, beseeching them for the help we need to make the (seemingly easy) changes that’ll allow fiance visas to be processed in a timely manner. I was very clear in my wording, asserted that I wasn’t seeking personal expedition, but that I wanted to know how the broken system is being repaired.

When my senators finally got back to me (my representative, who had previously helped during an election while seeking my vote, never made an effort to respond), they were both dismissive of my requests to find out the causes of processing delays and how they’re going to be avoided in the future, and simply insisted on personal services that, maybe, could earn me their vote in the next election. Senator Burr’s office took longer to get back with me, and returned with a chain message, answering-machine style reminder that “expected processing times are only goals and not representative of actual processing speed,” but Senator Tillis’s office made for greater outreach: they called me personally, said they’d check on our application every thirty days, and if the six month mark rolls around, they can request it pulled and worked on immediately. But again, no mention of solving the actual problem.

So I’m out of options. I cannot force people to want change; I can only aim to inspire and make the greatest difference I can with my own hands.

I think I’ll write a few more letters, but trying to motivate others to act alongside me has been a physical and emotional drain, and it’s not worth it. They’re not moving. Trying to overcome their inertia will only prevent me from overcoming mine.

Instead I need to build momentum, the property of motion that can be built, what I had in mind when I wrongly said before that we could build inertia. The beautiful thing about momentum is that it’s continuous: to reach a higher state of momentum, we must first go through every value below it–starting at zero momentum.

The more beautiful thing about momentum is that sometimes, by releasing what’s holding us back, we’re able to begin moving forward on our own. When we give up old anger and older pains, when we make peace and let them go, we move forward at once. And as we build on our momentum, inertia turns in our favor: no longer is it keeping us from starting, but instead it’s keeping us from coming to a stop.

So I’m letting go. I wanted to change immigration, but it’s not a change the world is ready for; not even those facing the shortest hills are ready to walk over them. My hope to see it reshaped and reformed won’t vanish, but I’m not the warrior in this battle. At least not right now. I’m on reserve, and when the time is right, when I know I can make that impact, I will raise my banner and march into battle.

For now, I have other wars to fight. We may have won marriage equality in the US, and new guidelines may instruct sexual orientation discrimination to be included as sex discrimination, but we’re still a far way from true equity for the LGBT community. I have my armaments already, and while I’m no general, I’m no new recruit either. To keep fighting for legal equality and for cultural acceptance of our community (including those who are asexual, genderqueer, polyamorous, and all the others facets of our world that didn’t make it into the acronym) is a battle I’m prepared to keep fighting. Let’s not forget I’m already a seasoned veteran.

There are also other battles I’m training for, already marching into small skirmishes even if the main front is still far ahead. I’ve been studying more about race and how racism pervades our country, and I’ve been learning more about issues of poverty and sexism and where (and how) I can make a difference with these issues.

Immigration is important, and it impacts many people not only in the United States, but also around the world. I have glimpsed only a small, privileged window of the system, and while I went forward armed with information, even expertise in this minuscule domain, when I reached the battlefield I found I was unarmed for the fight that awaited me. And that’s okay. As I said before, I will continue to build my arms for this battle, and when the timing is right, I’ll attack.

But there’s also one more war I’m fighting, that’s just one battlefield amongst the many I must cross to achieve my dreams–the challenges of school, finances, balancing work and loans, making time for family and friends among all these things.

The truth is this is one fight I cannot fight alone without losses, damages that will not simply affect me, but my potential to impact change in the years to come. It’s hard to ask for help, because asking in our culture implies weakness and inadequacy, and these in turn sow guilt and shame, but I understand that asking for help isn’t just extending a hand to receive, but offering a hand to know. When we help each other, we get to glimpse a part of each other, and that closeness makes wonders happen.

Harel and I need help to cover the immigration expenses involved in getting him here. We’ve raised nearly ten percent of our $3035 goal, and I’m asking for only what you’re able to give. I know it’s difficult to make donations of any sort when times are hard on everybody, which is why I’m trying to reach as many people as I can.

Today I have over 2,300 followers on WordPress: If everyone donated just $2, we’d reach our goal. It’s unrealistic to expect that, but my point is that even donations of $5, $10, or even $18 can add up, with many supporters, so we can reach our goals. And we plan to stream our wedding ceremony so all our supporters can join us.

(I mention $18 because the Hebrew word for “life” has a numerical value of 18, and so it’s considered an especially meaningful gift amount in Judaism, a way of literally sharing your life with another.)

This isn’t the first time I’ve asked for help, and it probably won’t be the last, but it is a chance for us to join hands in a battle whose victory will make things better, that’ll bring more happiness to the world.

Today marks five months since our visa application was received, and with standard processing usually between five and seven months, it continues to become more and more important for us to raise this money. In a few weeks I’ll be back on campus, working again, but as a full-time student, I still won’t make enough to make ends meet and to cover all our immigration expenses. So I’m asking for your help, and I hope you’ll take a moment to make a donation.

Please visit GoFundMe.com/DarrenHarel or click the icon below:

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