Kristie Dahlia Home
a peony blossom and buds and a stalk of foxglove against a wooden table
We Are Beloved

The Universe is Not Locally Real

Jun 25, 2024

Beloved friends,

Blessings to you at this living moment, the solstice and the full strawberry moon just behind us and the first presidential debate just ahead. Let's talk about the sweetness first, hm?

My neighbor Pegi grows peonies. Last summer she invited me down to cut some. For me, peonies had always been something that came from the florist, extravagant in their beauty, size, brevity, and cost. I slipped under her fence with my pruners in hand, cut three stems, and took them home delighted. Afterward I was firmly and lovingly Given What For and told to go back and cut some more, so this year when the invitation came to cut flowers on the summer solstice, I cut a few more. On the way back I walked behind my own home, where the foxglove is taller than I am, and cut a few stalks to nestle with the peonies. The foxglove grows around a rocky border laid around the edge of the ridge our house sits on. I like to imagine that I know who planted it, a prior owner of this house who is also named for a flower: Lily, who the neighbors have described as doing a lot of gardening and scampering around on the hillside. A gift from her life here to mine.

It felt sweet and sacred to spread jars of flowers from the land around the house on the longest day. The next morning I ran unto Pegi and she warmly encouraged me to come back for more. I made a single large arrangement this time, all white, an offering for that night's full moon.

I felt giddy and generous with this wealth of home-grown blossom. I had invited a few friends by to share the moonrise and gleefully planned to send them all home with peonies, though when the time came it turned out everyone had their own already. The anticipatory joy I felt at the prospect of gifting the blooms onward reminded me of passages from Braiding Sweetgrass like, "Many of our ancient teachings counsel that whatever we have been given is supposed to be given away again...The essence of the gift is that it creates a set of relationships. The currency of a gift economy is, at its root, reciprocity.” and "Rather than to greed, prosperity here gave rise to the great potlatch tradition in which material goods were ritually given away, a direct reflection of the generosity of the land to the people. Wealth meant having enough to give away, social status elevated by generosity. The cedars taught how to share wealth, and the people learned."

Somehow this brings me leaping to the opposite pole: the first presidential debate is this Thursday. Darlings, be gentle with yourselves and ferocious in your self-care. It is likely that many people will share an experience I had this morning upon reading the news that Our Most Recent Republican President has suggested at two campaign events that there should be a migrant fighting league. I am not going to link to this because I do not wish it to seem I am suggested you read something that profoundly distressed me; it is very easy for truly interested people to find this coverage; the event has been quite widely reported upon. When I read this news, I got dizzy, my vision narrowed, and I began to blink rapidly, thinking, "No. No. How can this be real?"

I recognized that feeling from That Man's presidency, the wash of traumatized horror. It's going to be intense in the days and months ahead as this kind of PTSD rolls through half of the US with the election growing closer and media coverage of the candidates intensifying. We need to take tender and determined care of ourselves and one another.

I want to support you. There are recordings of me offering meditation and deep relaxation available to stream for free on my website. The Soft Animal Saturday yoga sessions are resuming in August as a hybrid class, live in my studio and on Zoom, 9:15-10:45 am Pacific; donation-based, no one turned away for inability pay. The longstanding weekly Meditation Gathering meets on Tuesday mornings 8-8:55am Pacific, also donation-based. Private sessions of personal counsel can be booked any time on my Calendly.

It isn't going to be easy to face this again, but it will be better to turn to it firmly and fight it off this autumn than to endure the consequences for years to come. My slight vagueness here is deliberate resistance: you know who I mean. Sometimes I refuse to say his name because it feels powerful to choose that option. I cannot choose silence. There is too much at stake.

We can face it together, hand in hand.



Oh, the Mystery
I honestly cannot wrap my head around this well enough to say it myself, so I'll let Daniel Garisto at Scientific American say it for me. What I can say about it, though, is that little gives me as much hope and comfort as the certainty that we do not know what all this existence is. We do seem to have proved (like Nobel-prize-winning proved) that the universe is not locally real. This gives me hope: so much is possible.

"One of the more unsettling discoveries in the past half a century is that the universe is not locally real. In this context, 'real' means that objects have definite properties independent of observation—an apple can be red even when no one is looking. 'Local' means that objects can be influenced only by their surroundings and that any influence cannot travel faster than light. Investigations at the frontiers of quantum physics have found that these things cannot both be true. Instead the evidence shows that objects are not influenced solely by their surroundings, and they may also lack definite properties prior to measurement."

There Is So Much Intelligence
Another thing that gives me hope is how much intelligence there is in upon the Earth. We are not alone. We are together. I've been collecting this incredible wash of recent research results:

Sperm Whale Clicks are Language
And we are beginning to understand it.

Birds Use Symbolic Gesture
The Japanese Tit expresses politeness with wing gestures.

Elephants Use Names
The elephants in a social group identify each other by names.

Butterflies Have Spatial Learning Intelligence
Which is shaking up our views of insect cognition.

The Vastness of Being
is also a comfort. "This striking view of the central parts of the Milky Way was obtained with the VISTA survey telescope at ESO's Paranal Observatory in Chile." This is not an artist's rendering; it is a mosaic image. It is astonishingly zoomable: keep clicking. THAT is the vastness in which we live. The vastness clears my head right out: LOOK AT THAT. That makes me think: surely we can handle a wanna-be tyrant; he's small beans compared to... this. And we are of-this. We are this in human form. Ahhhhh.

When All Else Fails, Dance
I've gotten a lot appreciation for the Marmara - Ulises Remix Radio playlist I shared a while ago and which has been the solid soundtrack for my live classes for a while. There have also been requests for more music. I am giggling at sharing a playlist which riffs off a song whose refrain is, "When it's time for me to die / bury me at the club", because I've done most of my dancing under the sky or in warehouses, but we've been using this one to get stomping and hopping around here. Rave Grave Radio.