Back-Garden Utopia

February is apparently a month to show people that you care. What seems like everywhere is decorated with the sugary-candy-hearted sentiments to remind us how to correctly (read capitalistically) adore your romantic partner. But I’ve never connected with any hyper-romantic philosophies, so I’ll do with my blog what I do in real life and just “see dah over dey” and ignore it.

Besides far more interesting things happen in February!

Like St. Lucia has it’s Independence Day on the 22nd -  So big up yuhself Lucians!

And this year Lantern Day falls in the second month of the year.

And in America they celebrate Black History Month which coincidentally coincides with Bob Marley’s birthday (6th of Feb yuh all). So there are loads of other underrated things that happen in the world during February that if you take the time to analyse them, truly represent the reasons to celebrate authentic compassion and care.

I’m an analyser who, when I think of February, can’t help but recall the good memories of celebrating this time when I was growing up in Barbados.

 

And Barbados is pretty Westernised by American television, so we tend to acknowledge Black History Month in February while also being tapping into our Caribbean pride by showing one love to Marley on his Earth day.

Barbados is like 92.4% black so imagine the vibe in the air as people who believe in uplifting their community, walked with spirits higher than usual. It was interesting observing it as a young white-looking child. I noticed in one circle, the people who needed the permission to celebrate themselves, and in the other were the ones who clearly did it on an everyday. But when both aligned in the centre of the Venn diagram there was so much positive energy put into my version of the world I can still feel it as I write this now.

B, legit, it was one of the only times I wouldn’t skip morning full assemblies even though I’m pretty secular in my belief system.

Why? 'Cuz there was always one teacher who made it his/her mission to read African stories to a hot hall full of 900+ unruly, hormonal teenagers and they would just shut up and listen. 'Cuz as “bad boy” and “bad gyal” as you wanna play you is, ancient wisdoms wrapped in the compelling nature of storytelling is an instinct not easily dismissed.

So I would listen intently to the story of how the cheetah got the marks on her cheeks and the misadventures of my boy Anansi.

Plus this was also the time when the dashiki's and kente cloth would, without apology, come out. The teachers who chose traditional clothing looked more like models of heritage pride. With all the vibrant colours, patterns and symbols, I felt like I had fallen into a powerful magical realm.

Imagine Harry Potter but with Afrocentric magic as opposed to Eurocentric.

 

But the memory I hold the strongest, is me walking through my secondary school and instead of going to class, as I should, I’m heading towards our group’s hang out spot. What can I say? School was more a social activity for me than an educative one. As I’m walking there is a massive P.A that was set up outside and it blasted “Is This Love” and ”Wait In Vain” throughout the courtyard. For all my UK readers, this is the Caribbean so it’s about 25 degrees out and the “sun is shining”, and yes, it is February.

As I’m walking this feeling sets in. It’s that one, you know? When everything feels like it would be permanently okay. At that precise moment in time, whether it was because of the irie music vibes or the vitamin D sufficiency, it just felt like everyone I encountered was happy. So much so that when a teacher who caught me and my friends ditching class at the lunch tables came by, they just laughed at us, told us off slightly, and rather than angrily reprimanding or punishing us, sent us humorously to our classes. It was as if, even though they had their duties and responsibilities they were able to balance it with an offering of compassion, patience and joy. Teenager me then wondered what it would be like if we all offered that to each other, from close friend to strangers.

If there is a word for when the world just feels perfect for a moment in time, unfortunately, I don’t know it.  But I have felt it. And I’m sure you have too. So I wanna make a call to action. If this word already exists - educate me. If this word doesn’t, then can we make it up? A collective word to represent a relatable collective feeling.

But why did I share that story? 'Cause recently I’ve been thinking. How can we get to good, if we don’t visualise what good looks like?

How can we make this world better if we don’t even remember what better looks like?

 

When our perceptions of the world are guided by our social media lenses we can either become ignorant or inundated with humanity's’ flaws. We can choose either to be compassionate or suffer with compassion fatigue. When greed and selfishness and our most basic atrocities are on display consistently, it’s hard not to. The other morning I woke up to read a news article of how a bunch of tourists unintentionally killed a new born dolphin because they all wanted to take selfies with it. (Excuse me while I side eye humanity.)

And it’s so easy to get caught in the net of misinformation, or trapped by political, racial and class-based tensions or just shut it all up with a dose of pop culture that we allow ourselves to become too numb to care about unjust happenings in our current society.

But I wanted to bring you into my world, show you a piece of what utopia means to me and encourage you to think, in your own time, when that was the case for you. 'Cause, as naive as this sounds we can make a change.

We can grow utopia in our back garden.

We can grow utopia in our conversations.

We can grow utopia in our minds and just invite people in.

 

They say this generation is full of activists like it’s a bad thing. Like the rising of our consciousness isn’t attempting to propel international equality and development. So now, more than ever, remember we have the opportunity and the means to incite revolution - a compassion revolution, a caring revolution.

And it starts by envisioning that unnamed feeling of perfection, celebrating it and planting a seed. And if we all do it, soon we’ll have a forest of compassionate trees. And it’ll be black history month everyday and it will be Independence day every day and and maybe even for me, Bob Marley’s Birthday every day. All 'cause we took the time to celebrate.

Signed,

Luci.

“Keep it irie”

Written by Luci Hammans.

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