How to Be Together
Learning to cope is hard, like extreme physical training. It demands a great deal of agility,
an apprenticeship in the art of compromise, a constant lowering of the threshold of
To cope is to make life possible without real possibility, to find ways of dealing,
whereas surviving, which is a state of bare living, is too consumed with its own task to feel
anything other than the determination to live. You can be good or bad at coping, but you can’t
be good or bad at surviving.
To survive is to mobilize every particle of the self towards getting through the morning, then
the day, to muster the totality of being into bear subsistence.
To survive is to not die every day against all odds, to wrestle a system designed to “thrive” on
your own demise. Fighting the money lords when surviving is super hard because you’re too
busy not dying to muster any revolutionary energy, and “thriving” isn’t worse than
surviving, but it isn’t great either.
As in a “thriving economy,” as in a state of infectious proliferation which the planet can no
How to be alive isn’t a question of ascending or descending order, increments
or surplus, subtractions or additions of being. Being together and not alone is a practice of non-
separation between hardship and ecstasy; no one is thriving if someone is surviving. As long as
some of us are surviving or coping or thriving, “we” are not possible.
“We” isn’t possible if it isn’t inclusive of all the women (in the refugee camps, at the border, the
women imprisoned with and without children, the women scrubbing your office floors and
fighting in occupied lands). “We” will not be possible as long as you have something
(an inheritance, uninterrupted power, time to read) someone
else is denied or as long as what “we” desire is defined by humanistic imaginings of
togetherness, liberal philanthropy, and other terribly good intentions.
“We” will only be possible once everyone has nothing ((to cope (with) or survive (against) or
thrive (for)), which is everything we ever needed to be (together).