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Beth Wodzinski Hi, I'm Beth. I create: words and art. I do yoga. I cook tasty food. I publish Shimmer magazine. Now 37% more purple.

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Chop Wood, Carry Water

Published November 12, 2016 - 6 Comments

The old Zen proverb.

Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.

After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.

Turns out enlightenment and the fascist apocalypse have that much in common.  And there’s a hell of a lot of wood that needs chopping now. There are a thousand ways to resist: protest, write to elected officials, support organizations doing this work already, educate yourself, take care of yourself, create despite the motherfuckers. There are a thousand issues to work on: LGBTQ rights, immigration, dismantling white supremacy and the patriarchy, protecting the environment, reproductive rights, health care, election reform. There are a thousand organizations and people who desperately need your time, your energy, and your money.

I don’t know where to start. I don’t know what’s the most important. I don’t know what actions are the most useful. But I do know that not doing anything is not going to be effective.

So what I’m going to do is: look for one small thing I can do each day, within my geographical, budgetary, and other limits. I’ll post about it here, and you can join me; or you can tell me what action you took today. I believe in the power of tiny steps. Let’s take some. Let’s take some tiny steps together.

Today’s action: Download your copy (free for the next few days) of Rebecca Solnit’s book, Hope in the Darkness.

With Hope in the Dark, Rebecca Solnit makes a radical case for hope as a commitment to act in a world whose future remains uncertain and unknowable. Drawing on her decades of activism and a wide reading of environmental, cultural, and political history, Solnit argued that radicals have a long, neglected history of transformative victories, that the positive consequences of our acts are not always immediately seen, directly knowable, or even measurable, and that pessimism and despair rest on an unwarranted confidence about what is going to happen next.

Let’s get chopping.


jnfr - November 12, 2016 Reply

Thanks, Beth. You give me hope.

Josiane - November 13, 2016 Reply

Yes! Chopping a piece of wood, any piece of wood, without being paralyzed by trying to figure out which would be the bestest piece to chop first…

It just so happens that I’d come across that book a few weeks ago, and had put it on my wishlist. So thank you for sharing this offer: I now have it at the very top of my reading pile, and I’ve shared your post with someone else whom I know will love that book. The impact of a tiny step can be multiplied…

Beth - November 13, 2016 Reply


Beth - November 13, 2016 Reply

Thanks, Josiane! I hope all’s well with you; it’s been ages since we’ve talked.

Darcy - November 14, 2016 Reply

I am so glad you posted this. Downloaded the book, and my other small step I took today (in the put on your own oxygen mask first vein) was to call about making sure I get my ACA health insurance renewed. I also tried to find a local self defense class. Small steps. Thank you for being a beacon.

Beth - November 15, 2016 Reply

Those are excellent steps, Darcy! It is my understanding that ACA plans won’t change until after 2017 — good to at least have next year taken care of. <3

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