Flower blooming in hard circumstances

By Molly Butler

The storm whipped up, and the lights began to flicker.

We looked out at the green sky and churning treetops as an emergency alert appeared on our phones. WARNING: Seek shelter. We gathered up the pets and prepared to herd them all into the basement, as lightning struck nearby and the electricity blipped off and on, making the microwave beep beep beep.

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I felt that anxious tightness in my chest: imagining a tree landing on the house, thinking of where all the “important” things were in our home, picturing the barn roof flying into a corn field, trying to get enough cell service to make sure families in the storm’s path were somewhere safe. But we didn’t panic, just prepared, as we had a hundred times throughout our schooling and childhoods. And soon, the worst of the storm passed. In the morning, the siding was splattered with leaves and the yard misty but bright with all that well-watered green.

“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations: we fall to the level of our training.” -Greek poet Archilochus.

It’s not a political statement to say we are beginning to experience the effects of climate change. It’s a fact: human behavior has damaged our planet. I’m not here to argue this with anyone: if you doubt the effects we’ve had, why don’t you eat some fish from our rivers? Build a house by the sea? Two fell into the ocean this week in North Carolina, homes that were a football field length away from the waterline when built, and Nevada’s Lake Mead has lost enough water to start spilling its secrets, bodies and trash. But I’m also not here to trigger those with climate anxiety. This world does not need panicked, doom-filled people. No. This world we’ve created requires preparation. What are you training for?

You can’t build a future out of bullets. You need seeds.

It’s tempting to hoard, argue, turn on each other, put up our walls or shut down. Without training, that’s what we will continue to do: fight each other like rats on a sinking ship. Unless we train in a different way. Are you practicing kindness? Generosity? Hope? Humor? Are you practicing patience? Are you training in love? Because after a disaster strikes, it’s not firepower you need but helping hands. Nurturing. Teamwork. Trust. These must be our baseline. You can’t build a future out of bullets. You need seeds.

I remember the first week the pandemic began to change our lives in the United States. I’d been watching it online, spread throughout the world, and I had felt like I was wearing a tinfoil hat as I tried to warn family and friends it was coming. Noah and I were on a trip up north, and as we returned south, driving past crowded stores and busy ammo shops, I was scrolling, talking to friends abroad, and succumbing to that feeling of doom. We stopped at a co-op for supplies, watching panicked folks rush out with overstuffed shopping carts, toilet paper and bottled water, and I heard a man frantically telling an employee that he couldn’t find what he needed. The employee calmly said, “Don’t worry. I know someone who can share. We are all going to take care of each other.” Now that is a person trained in hope.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Friday

There’s new work at the 410 Project! Semaj Roytal Tarot: Photograph by James Taylor will have an opening reception Friday from 7-9 p.m. It’s Free Food Friday at the North Mankato Taylor Library. This week, they’re having a Taste Test Challenge! Open to ages 9-17, the event begins at 6:30 p.m. Register by calling the library or visiting their online calendar.

It’s a great weekend for local theater! Matilda the Musical will be showing at the Merely Players Community Theatre this weekend. Get your tickets here. The Mankato Playhouse will put on Grease this weekend with dinner theater options!

Crista Bohlmann will perform from 6-9 p.m. at the WOW! Zone, call ahead to reserve a table. The Lake Effect will perform at the LocAle Brewing Company from7-9 p.m., paired with fresh beer plus BBQ and sides from Scotty Biggs. Catch Mic Massacre at the Blue Moon Bar and Grill and Them Coulee Boys at Nakato Bar and Grill. Mully’s on Madison will host GTX live country music at 8:30 p.m. The What’s Up Lounge will host Alice’s Escape performing this Friday, doors at 8:30 p.m., and the show starts at 9 p.m. Cover is $10 for this 21+ show.

Saturday

The Mankato Farmers’ Market will open at 8 a.m. Saturday with goodies and produce from local crafters and farmers. The North Mankato Taylor Library will host Toddler Time and Preschool Pals from 9-11 a.m.! No registration is required for this come-and-go event.

The St. Peter High School will perform a tale as old as time. Tickets to Beauty are available here, with showtimes at noon and 5 p.m. The Merely Players Community Theatre will perform Matilda at 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Get your wheels turning! Nicollet Bike and Ski invite you out for another backroads gravel ride, leaving the shop at 7 a.m. sharp. Gravel or Cyclocross bikes are recommended. Then, from 4-10 p.m., catch Key City Bike’s biggest event of the year! WheelWorks will include family-friendly art activities, games, donation-based kids bikes available, an art silent auction, tire changing contest, food and more! Plus, enjoy live music featuring River Rat Ramblers, Torrid Forest, Beulah Rue and Loadie!

The Wine Café will host the Watermelon Slush “Cornfed” CD release party from 6-8 p.m. Catch Autumn Reverie with Leaving Hope at 8:30 p.m. at the What’s Up Lounge. The cover is $10 for this 21+ show.

Sunday

Catch a matinee! Grease will be at the Mankato Playhouse at 2 p.m., and Matilda the Musical will be at the Lincoln Community Center at 2:30 p.m. Beauty will be at the St. Peter High School at 5 p.m.

Added Value: How to Stay Hopeful

Cognitive neuroscientist Tali Sharot says, “Optimism changes subjective reality. The way we expect the world to be changes the way we see it. But it also changes objective reality. It acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Now, this doesn’t mean that if you expect rainbows and kittens, life will keep handing you happiness. But if you wake up and immediately start consuming the bad news of the world, rushing around and getting irritable with your cohabitants, chances are your day isn’t going to magically get better. Next time you catch yourself having a gloomy thought, congratulate yourself for noticing. Then, think a few positive thoughts, even if they’re seemingly small things: wearing your favorite socks, that first sip of coffee or hearing the birds. This practice trains your brain. Take it from someone who recently aced her depression screening for the first time in years: training works.

For this and more ideas, check out this collection of How to be More Hopeful from eight TED speakers.

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Weekend High Notes is a regular feature by Molly Butler. Molly covers weekend events, live music, and culture in the Greater Mankato Area. Suggestions are welcome using the MankatoLIFE contact form.