“Not all wars have casualties, Vee. Some struggles between old and new ideas, some battles between ways of seeing have only victors. Not all dying is the physical self.” —Sophie Heywood in The Salt Eaters by Toni Cade Bambara
There has to be a way out towards being pleased that doesn’t require suffering. There has to be. I’m naming that there has to be because I sure as hell haven’t found it yet. As I continue offering my alchemy to the world, I’ve had this nagging feeling that I’m going to have to grow comfortable in my power. However, I fear that there’s a vast gap between being my embodied power versus the power that has been placed upon me without my consent.
adrienne maree brown said that the 2018 Allied Media Conference is complete. Our time, the nearly three thousand of us that descended on Detroit, in the iteration that we experienced it, collectively and as individuals, is over. The work that comes afterward, is not. That inner working and tinkering with ourselves is a lifetime investment. If you’ve been rocking with me since I received a copy of “Emergent Strategy,” you already know what I’m about to say. But, if you’re new to my work (because I never know who’s reading and how far this goes) know that I could not articulate the vision and thoughts I’ve had around myself and my work without that text.
adrienne hosted several workshops at AMC, but two gems I heard have stuck out the most. At the How to Survive the End of the World Podcast live recording, she was vulnerable with us and her equally amazing sister, Autumn, and shared how while everyone loves the work of Emergent Strategy, sometimes she fears that if she slips up one day, that her work will sunset and folks will dispose of her.
An hour after that, I ran into a Who Heals the Healer conference attendee who, a month and change after the experience, stopped me to tell me how much my work had impacted them. I humbly thanked them, asked how their conference was going and got back to hanging with my Braves Bridges crew.
Cut to Sunday’s Pleasure Activism 101. AMC had to move it, physically, and through time, to a bigger space at the last second due to the tribe seeking to soak up adrienne’s wisdom. One of the many lessons and homework assignments came through for me when adrienne guided us to arrive at the idea that we don’t have to keep putting off nirvana and that actually it’s our responsibility to cultivate it now.
Is this what being an ancestor in training means? Is this liberation? That flips all of the scriptures around working and tolling through this life for some reward in the next. Across faiths. In this instance, what I took away from that moment alone was this; finding nirvana now means we have to name the particular steps towards achieving that within ourselves and then radiating that outwards.
the instinctive drive to seek pleasure and avoid pain, expressed by the id as a basic motivating force that reduces psychic tension.
Both/and tensions say that beaming this out can have consequences though. Because altering the altar sometimes means that you have you sweep through expired offerings. Clearing out gifts and standing under the exalted place that folks have placed you without your consent. If our first altar is ourselves, and how we choose to adorn it is our responsibility, then I’m really confused because upon review of the playbook of “Veronica Alicia Agard,” I fear that I’m starting down a path that adrienne named during the podcast recording. That since I’m doing incredible work in weaving and connecting communities, that the power that folks have gifted me can cause me to be alone on that altar.
are not your responsibility.
they are not yours
to try to bring remedy to.
they are not yours to take away.
they are not yours to shine a light to
because if and when you shine
a light on it,
and draw attention to these
external fears being mainly
the fears and people
that they stem from
will remind you that
and you will
“clear the isle.” 6/18/18
I’m not sure if this feeling is worse than what (almost) happened to Coco’s ancestor (no spoilers intended), but I’m deeply fearful of being treated as a Black unicorn in the name of other’s comfort. That I’ll only be a site or physical space of people’s healing, and that they’ll continue to do what they’ve done for the past two years. I’ll state my feelings or intentions and be vulnerable. It’s seemingly reciprocated, and everything seems fine, until the reality they’ve chosen to live in creeps back. My energy is great or I’m beautiful inside and out, or I’m powerful until that means that these compliments bring out insecurities of others feeling like they’re not on my level.
Did I ask you to put me up here though? Yes, I’m the plug or portal, but please, be careful because this is lonely as fuck to be surrounded by people that love what you do for them but don’t want to step into loving you fully. I’m struggling to understand how we as a community of people can be so woke when it comes to some shit, but particularly have hard drive malfunctions with this. This tension. This lack of admission that we do messy shit in the community in the name of temporary, but valid, yearning and longing to be held and express themselves through those lower chakras. That we can’t navigate these small ass degrees of separation, or lack there of, when it comes to sex like we don’t give trainings on consent, boundaries and healthier ways of relating to one another. Or that BIPOC, GNC and QTPOC folks completely “get it” when it comes to White folks tokenizing them in the workplace and community, but then we turn around and tokenize people in our communities that we trust. Our confidants. Our lovers. Our healers. Then once we’ve reached our level of growth that we’re comfortable experiencing with that person, it’s over.
I’d be lying to you if I didn’t explicitly name that I know that if I wanted a quick fix, or to share sexual energy with someone, that as a Sagittarius, I could have it handled. But celibacy and being outwardly mindful of who I share this space with says that that’s boring. To paraphrase Tupac, I no longer want it if it’s that attainable, and that’s my own cross to bear because I consented to this desire. My Saturn Return, and being a Capricorn dominant has helped me land at this place within my heart space. Getting off for me at this point means getting off of loops of trauma and fall out that I set in motion by settling. Those actions have left me with this complex of being too much or too "big" in my being and my light to be loved the way that I want to be loved. I don't want to just be the fly auntie with the juice, I actually want to do that and be a partner to someone. Typing that outloud is me trying to break that karma of the past two years.
This spiritual logic then arrives at the following destination; we can’t fully appreciate our exalted, or highest, capacities for bliss without experiencing the opposite. In other words, we can’t know the full breadth of pleasure without experiencing pain. I know this to be true through my writing because it is usually when I’m crying from deep frustration and disappointment that I turn around and conjure words in one shot. One take of sitting in silence with myself and examining why I’m upset, removing the person or incident from my feelings but also acknowledging the harm that they’ve caused.
Ever grateful for the lessons, I wish I didn’t have to be forced into some of these types embodied intimacies. I don’t want to have to experience my eyes stinging from crying, or disassociate from those that have love for me, in order to write my best work. I do not want to be bitter. I am trying my best to not shut down completely because I know that we can’t find someone to explore with if we do not put our whole selves out there. We all deserve a pleasurable existence that prevents harm from happening in the first place. What does it take for all of us to reach this point, you ask? I don’t know. And maybe, just maybe, that admission in and of itself is a part of the answer.
Pleasure is something that can avoid us for a lifetime if we aren’t given these opportunities to dig deeper. But if Pleasure Activism 101 (the book and the workshops of adrienne maree brown) is a course, I fear that I might have slipped slightly. This Saturn Return, however, will be my grade curve. I just don’t want that curve to be as emphasized as my waistline because that certainly be a waste. I refuse to beg for a better grade in this class called life and not experience my own personal heaven just like I will not beg for someone to be with me. Not if it means I have to shrink. In spite of every urge in my being to shut down love, being this open means that I have to continue to be brave and construct bridges between my own insecurities and embodied body politic and the healing that I encourage in others. My vulnerability does not mean that I'm above being afraid, nor does my bravery mean that I do not possess the potential to be a coward. This admission, both the mic and heart check, does not absolve me of the behavior that I'm describing, as I can definitely keep folks in my orbit out of sheer potential. But that behavior no longer serves me or brings me joy.
If you’re reading this, and your heart space lights up, I invite you to do a heart check. To really hold space for yourself to fully process what lands in that tender space. If you’re reading this and you’re wondering, “is Veronica talking about me?,” know that I might be. But as I wrote before; this is deeply personal and it’s about you // this is deeply personal and it’s not about you. However, I am open to discussing this with you and holding space, and stepping into my power as a site of healing. But the rate has gone up and you will get an invoice from Vera Icon, LLC. We can build and I can be a lighthouse for you, but I’m not shining a light to a place that you won’t travel to. Full stop. For anyone reading this, thinking “maybe I can shoot my shot,” please be advised that navigating my waters means that you have to navigate these aforementioned contradictions because that is how you can please me.