I blog, because I want an outlet for my thoughts and a reason to write regularly. It has been a good experience and experiment for me to publicly write this way and I am grateful for the people who care enough to read what I have to say and take time to comment on it. In the recent months I have been reflexive; meditating a lot on my personal growth and relations with people. This, of course, has been a focus in a lot of my recent blog entries and this one will be no different.
Recently, I have been feeling more connected to who I am, and that has inspired me to want to reach out and develop healthier relationships with others. It goes back to the old saying, ‘you can’t love others without loving yourself, because how do you know what love is?’ I think this is really true. Not that I don’t love myself or have had issues with loving myself, but some years back I lost myself and didn’t realize it. I think the last few years I have been trying to move forward, but my movement has been clumsy and destructive at times, because of this lack of clarity of self. I finally hit a point a year and a half ago that caused me to re-examine my life. I had just graduated college, moved to a new city, ended a tumultuous relationship, and was struggling financially (that remains constant). I felt lost in many ways, and that is when I realized that I wasn’t sure who I was anymore.
My life has never been easy, but the trauma of my younger years forced me to hold on to myself, because that is all I had control over. It also inspired me to create and express myself and my pain and happiness through art. That type of expression is very healing, and can keep you open rather than closed off. Somewhere along the way of the emotionally complicated early years of my twenties I lost aspects of that, and didn’t realize it until I was forced to face it, because of all the emotional and material transitions I was going through in fall 2009. From then on I made a commitment to find myself so I could give my all to the people I love and the struggle I’m committed to. It has been a rough year and a half, but I am so thankful for it. I feel connected to myself in a way that I never have before. I love myself, and I love the people in my life and am grateful for them.
For awhile the pain from former heartbreaks has left me feeling weary about love and relationships. I have wondered if it is possible to have a relationship free of exploitation and domination that so characterizes this system that we live under. Is real love possible under such a system? I have felt like I have had all this love to give, still do, and I want to give it to someone who also has lots of free love to give in return. I believe that this is a possibility again, because I must believe it. Because ideas and visions for the world and for ourselves are the first steps to material action and making it realized. I dream of a world that is free of domination and exploitation, and I am committed to making that a reality through my actions. These dreams and this methodology I apply to myself and the relationships around me, because that is the only way to make our relations with ourselves and others healthy and full of love.
A huge part of this growth is due to the relationships I have been developing around me the last year and a half. It has been vitally important for me to connect to others with similar personal and political backgrounds. One person in particular holds a special place in my heart, because he has inspired me to find a part of myself that I had neglected recently, my artistic side. This person goes by Crunch and he is an inspiring and humble warrior for his people. We started an art collective with another beautiful warrior, Tracy, who has a blog as well, thaseed.wordpress.com. The collective is called The Corner Collective and we are trying to build a holistic revolutionary arts movement. I have not known Crunch for very long, but I felt very soulfully connected to him when we first met. We grew up dealing with difficult and painful experiences, some similar and some different, that shaped us from an early age and molded us into revolutionary artists. I have gathered and continue to gather strength and inspiration from him. I feel confident that it is relationships like this that help us find our paths when we are lost lost. This blog post is dedicated to him and all the other dreamers, who carry visions of liberation. Below is a favorite poem of mine by Crunch that you can find here: http://ordoesitexplode.wordpress.com/2011/02/01/10-odd-truths/ I loved it when I first read it to myself, and I cried when he recently read it to me in my car before an open mic, where he performed it. And I will cry over and over again reading it. It radiates such honesty, strength, painful realities, and real hope (not that chump Obama kind). This is what art should be and this is what it should give to you. Please enjoy…
10 Odd Truths
I was loved once.
Held close and tight
Heard all the rhythms of my mother’s heart
The ebbs of her life
The flows of her infinite embrace
And I was loved
Enclosed in a symphony of warmth
Wrapped up in the feelings family saves for special days
And this thing called love belonged to me.
I find myself searching old hallways and corridors now
Searching for that which belonged to me
Finding other things I mistake for it along the way
My quest for love leads me to dungeons.
Flanked by other men, questing for the same
And so I come to find myself rising at 4am
Untangling myself from the four limbs that kept me bound
Brown braided man
I am women in the street crying to be heard over the parade of lunatics
Mothers in windows peaking through blinds
Half open curtains
Shades and cloth
Junkies dancing on coke cans
Black children looking at ceilings
Sinners shaking the jook joint
Ministers on soap boxes
I am lost.
Clinging to a torn up piece of something I found in my pocket
Put there long ago for safe keeping
A little note I wrote to myself
White paper with just four words:
“They will hunt us”
My reflection in the mirror tells me 10 odd truths:
1. The lines on my face are dried tear trails
2. Not all weapons are seen
3. Black is a notion
4. Sometimes backs become bridges to salvation for all but their owners
5. A long time ago I killed that small boy crying to understand
6. Mother’s hands were hard from work
7. The sun’s emerging glow is ironic in this room
8. Being gay is a metaphysical dilemma I have not even begun to understand
9.You can spend all your life waiting for a stranger to be the man who will leave marks as you miss the familiar face doing the same
10. I was loved once.
Recently I have been thinking a lot about my birthday and reflecting on my twenties. Ill be twenty six next month and It feels weird, because I am officially in my twenties now. It seems like I got here so fast. I wonder how much I have grown or changed, because in many ways I feel like I have been this person since I can remember having consciousness (around the age of 5). I guess I would call it my soul or essence. But, as a species we are also shaped by our conditions and the people we interact or have close and/or intimate relations with. We do not develop ourselves in isolation from the rest of society. Our essence is influenced by culture and the people around us. How we reflect and learn from our actions in this world and our relationships with others is constantly molding us as people.
I have thought much about this as I have reflected on the numerous bouts of heartache I experienced throughout my twenties. Conscious reflection over my failed relationships and understanding over the ways I have behaved with my partners and vice versa has allowed me to understand myself better. This process has taken me back to the traumatic memories of my childhood and my experiences dealing with those conditions and the relationships around me that shaped me as a person in my strengths and faults. This has influenced the way I have interacted with people in my adult years. And it has drove me to take time to just be in my solitude and ground myself with who I am and who I should be. That has been a painful but beautiful experience. I feel very grounded internally, which makes me feel more secure about opening myself up to the universe again and to the painful lessons that come with love and heartache.
My close friend Mai, whose birthday is 2 days after mine, recently shared our horoscope for our birthday month with me, and it filled me with lots of excitement and anticipation. Now, I am not dogmatically into astrology, and I am a scientific marxist. But, I also believe in the moon and my sign and often find that it is correct in analyzing aspects of my emotional state therefore it is significant to me. Our horoscope for our sign correctly identified some of the challenges I have been facing, while reaffirming my own thoughts about what work I should be engaging in right now for myself, and how I should be relating to people. It urged me to reflect over my relationships around me and tie up loose ends; it also said for me to close doors that need to be closed and open the ones that need to be open. This resonated in me a lot as I reflect on my past interactions with others that have been painful and unhealthy; as well as to think about the recent experiences I have been having and the new relationships I have been developing. My twenties have been hard; this particular year has been both materially and emotionally difficult, and that has been a test of my own strength and determination. But im feeling good…feeling ready…grateful for the recent experiences I have been having and the new friends made. Feeling the anticipation for change on multiple levels and that excites me and makes me feel more secure for this new year…a little older and a little wiser.
To celebrate these premature birthday thoughts and lessons learned from past relationships I wanted to do a little beat of the week that relates to some of these themes on love. This week is a banger: Eddie Kendricks, Erykah Badu and J Dilla. On Erykah’s most recent album, New Amerykah Part 2 (Return of the Ankh), she has an excellent song titled ‘Fall in Love (your funeral)’. The lyrics deal with the more negative aspects of love and relationships. The repetitive beat is also hittin in typical Dilla fashion. It is a sped up sample from Eddie Kendricks beautiful and soulful ballad ‘Intimate Friends’ that demonstrates the beauty of partnership. Kendricks wonderful falsetto brought him much fame as one of the founding members of The Temptations. He went on to write and perform songs with a solo career. Dilla also samples his song ‘My People’ on his album Donuts; and it is also featured on Erykah’s New Amerykah Part one (4th World War) track ‘My People’. These songs demonstrate the depth and creativity of Black music, and the connection between soul and hip hop as well as illustrate the pain, beauty and growth that come with relationships. They are providing a nice soundtrack to my own thoughts and experiences. Enjoy!
Life can be so tiring, painful, lonely and a whole list of other negative things that challenge our spirits and commitment to survival… And then there are those moments that are so sweet; where we feel connected to ourselves, the earth and others. It is in those moments where you relish the quiet and creativity solitude brings; or the laughter and touch of others. It is in those moments where you don’t regret being alive.
Life has not been easy for me the last few months.
But the recent times have been met with beautiful experiences with others; lessons learned and applied; and the thrilling anticipation over what the future may bring. I feel in a reflexive and growing place that makes me feel positive and alive. Where old soul, a sunset, and a bottle of wine shared is all you need.
This is one of my favorites by Aretha…please enjoy the melody and your beautiful self.