By Susan Lesh
Last night I learned of RBG’s death and it hit me harder than I thought it would. In these times of continuing bad news, there are a few bright lights that I hang on to, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg was one of those lights. When I was working out at my gym, I was doing the same exercises RBG was doing, and I would work harder. I found her voice eminently listenable, as though we were seated in a living room, as she explained her thinking. I found her tireless perseverance awe-inspiring. With the news of her death, I wanted to scream “NO” and cry and give up. But, in reading all of these remembrances of her, I know that that is not an option. RBG kept showing up, even with all of her setbacks…I need to show up, too.
So how to do that? That’s a tough one. I recently received one of those reminders that Facebook gives you. You know, “here’s a memory from five years ago…”. It was a post that I made because I had been nominated to post three positives of the day for 10 straight days. I usually don’t do those nominations, but I had decided to do it because I was in a low mood. And it worked. At first, I could only find things like “I held my tongue instead of yelling at the kids today” and “I got my laundry done.” By the end of the 10 days, I was feeling much better about my life and feeling thankful for the many instances of beauty and graciousness around me. The fact was, I noticed the beauty and graciousness that was already there and because of noticing it, I amplified it. Because of that amplification, I was in better spirits and able to face some of the hardships coming my way. So, part one of showing up is paying attention to the positives in your daily life.
As I sit here in my backyard having lunch outside, as I have taken most of my meals this spring, summer, and now fall, I particularly feel the enjoyment of the moment. I feel the sun on my back. I feel the cool of the shade. I am so happy to have a backyard to sit in. I notice the fascinating patterns of the sun on the bark of the over-100-year old pin oak tree in our yard. I am feeling positive energy to do what needs to be done.
Part two of showing up is listening to RBG: “Fight for the things that you care about but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” There are many things that we as a Society care about—systemic racism, climate change, immigrant rights, voting rights, the list goes on. Even with these pandemic challenges, we are going to be coming together to fight for those things. Our October platforms take on many of these topics. As Anne Wallman, new chair of Social Action, says, “We’re putting the ACTION into Social Action,” so watch for these events to be able to participate. We are continuing the effort to socialize outdoors in small groups, because it’s so important to remain connected, so look for Diane Koszarski’s announcements about upcoming backyard socials.
I’m ready to show up and be with you, my Ethical community, as we fight for the things we care about.
Susan Lesh is president of the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County.