When I call my mother to vent about something, I start by asking her to time me. My mother and I chat often about the gaps between what I wanted to say versus what I actually articulate through sounds, and this means that certain topics have quotas. When I’ve gone past the allotted time, no matter the topic, she will redirect the flow towards something positive. This type of tinkering and re-calibrating has saved me from going “in the deep end” as she says.
Here I am in the depths again trying to honor how I feel.
I’ve written about accountability and disposability before. I’ve tried to reconcile the ways in which I’ve simply walked away and the times when I’ve been left behind. It seems that I have to write about disaposablilty again. In social justice circles, this word gets used fairly often within necessarily making sure that everyone has a working understanding of it. Even though, someone can name this as "boundary setting" or "protection," this type of behavior can be later tagged as “elitist” or “classist,” again assuming that the folks that you are in conversation with have the same understanding or application of those words.
I’ve been fortunate to navigate the power of words through this channel, and self-expression, but I haven’t spent as much time explore the opposite. The silence. The void that can crop up again like a weed. But even silence can teach us lessons about the power of things that simply do not need to be stated.
But somewhere in that void, I’m caught trying to reconcile this desire to explore new ways of communication - verbal and nonverbal - and wanting to completely shut down. To take a break and shed just like the leaves are doing because I am tried of being the one with the words. Or the time to communicate on behalf of others.
Something that seems to be coming up a lot as the fight for the world as we know it intensifies is how can we sustain the work and visions we have for the future? What structures work when you’re trying to work so hard to dismantle others? Is there space for a conversation on the ways in which people get burnt out or just straight burnt by replicating problematic behaviors? Or does it not work because it will just boil down to “power and control” and other academic words that don’t necessarily honor or acknowledge all perspectives that folks possess? Nevermind if it’s a “call-in” or a “call-out,” are we even sure why we’re placing the call in the first place, or do we not acknowledge that we don’t have the same numbers anymore?
If we’re so busy talking about what no longer works and what is broken - after a certain point we run the risk of merely inviting those same things in our lives and not moving towards some kind of resolution. Continuing to speak from a place of lack. What you water, grows. What you resist, persists. Where is the transformation in the transition? It’s not trendy to talk about when things get messy and when lines get blurred in our (collective) responsibilities. I’ve shared some of the wisdom of Dr. Marta Moreno Vega before, but it bears repeating that in this stage of the game, if it’s not rooted in or leading towards solutions, words and ideas can ring hollow. My words included. And somewhere in that void is where the ideas we hold onto of the people, places and things in our life go to die. It’s not enough to critique systems that we’re trying to subvert, we have to actively working towards creating something new as much as we’re talking about destroying something that no longer serves us.
"Excavating ourselves out of denial, out of realities constructed of lies meant to harm us, is no small task. It requires grieving, letting go, and a whole lot more that I still hope to learn. Yet the challenge is worthwhile as this is necessary work for all of us who hope for a more supportive society." - Dom Chatterjee, Rest for Resistance
This time of year is when the hallow’s are more accessible among whispers of the rituals that lie within being spiritual. But those rituals imply routines, and routines imply patterns, and patterns imply cycles. Knowing myself means that I know that this time of year is always a matter of grieving. Five years ago it started with the transition of my uncle from this world to the next, and ended with my grandmother following her son. Those sixty-days ended up teaching me the most profound lessons about myself, and continue to highlight what I have to release in order to move forward and live a fuller life.
But the trick is that as I expand, so does the amount of grieving. A twinge of sadness when I realize that everyone is invited but not everyone will make it. The moments I thought I was speaking the language as someone else, but realized I wasn’t because there’s a glitch with the machinery. The amount of pain that I expose myself to by trusting in others, or the amount of disappointment I feel reminding me that I have the capacity to feel deeply. Tricky because as I navigate communities and develop relationships, I lose people along the way. Isn’t that what they say alchemy is? Transforming something old/dead/dying/painful/broken into something joyful/vital/beautiful/whole? But even within the conversations on coming from a place of love and light, do folks double check and make sure that they have the same love languages?
While so many folks are feeling a sense of urgency to speak to and hold space for the pressing issues of our time, but I worry about that void. Of how the conversations are had, and how they aren’t. The patterns that become stagnation and the stagnation turns into burn out. I don’t pretend to know the answers to the questions I’ve posed. But I know that somewhere in that void, in those depths, is where anyone who’s looking for me can find me. Taking time to know my shadow self so that no one on this planet can tell me something that they (think) know about me that I don’t already stand under. In that un/comfortable space of the no longer and not yet.