I have a couple things to say today about my t-shirt and these stairs that keep showing up in my photos.

1. The artist who does the piece featured on my t-shirt is famous in Bethlehem where this image “melds street-fighting passion and pacifist ardor in his image of a protester whose Molotov cocktail morphs into a bouquet.” (Pixelbully / Alamy).
2. I like the image a lot because it captures what I know of Palestinians who, would prefer to live at peace with their neighbors even though the conflict finds some doing what other societies do around the world when they are oppressed or smushed down–They defend themselves. But since the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is incredibly asymmetrical (i.e. Israel holds way way more power), Palestinians have to be more resourceful and creative. For more on the artist (Banksy) read this great article: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/the-story-behind-banksy-4310304/#u2dywkz7UHo65RgD.99
3. I try to walk these stairs several times a week and they called out today. The news cycle and some of the hard things I seek to address (like the new demolition of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem this early morning…yes it’s horrible, illegal, brutal, supported by our government and just ugly) take their toll. I have friends there and I feel burdened by their plight all the time. Anyway, walking up these stairs gets me grounded again, literally. And they remind me that some of life’s challenges can only be taken step by step. My upbringing was imbued with a positive worldview (yes it’s part of white privilege) and didn’t prepare me well for sustained hope in the face of set back or let downs. I was wired more to expect upward movement and Hollywood endings to pretty much everything. I’m learning however (yes I’m a late bloomer too) and being inspired by my Palestinian and refugee friends. What they endure and yet the hope and joy they model is truly amazing.
4. I do these stairs near the beginning of my walk. Better to hit the hard stuff early. Maybe true in life as well. I took this picture at an angle this time so it didn’t look like the stairs were sitting on my head like a crazy hat. Today however, I added a hill in Lincoln park after hitting the 10,000k mark, so near the end. As I began up the last hill on my walk today, I heard the steps of someone behind me and thought to myself, “no way in hell are they going to pass me!” I picked up my pace and accelerated to the top of the hill. What a feeling! Nobody passes me on my hill. ;-).
5. Lastly, my new t-shirt is going in the wash later today.