I Can Give It to You Easy, Straight, or In All Its Complexity
How was my trip?
It was a wonderful 3-month adventure among locals and travelers, each encounter encouraging exploration. There are as many stories and as many ways to tell them as city lights visible from above clouds. As I imagine standing among the lights I am in awe at the reminder that they compete, but pale in comparison to the brighter stars in their reflection.
True to my disposition, I enjoyed and endured emotional extremes of highs and lows. What I describe as dream tunnels and plateaus, moments of second-guessing followed by self-encouragement, became a necessary part of creative development and of hybrid existence. The trip was wonderful as much as it was frustrating and as much as it was necessary. My art's got a ways to go. I can't wait.
In All Its Complexity
I was less surprised about the general mood of ease and detachment from socio-political realities fostered especially in larger, liberal city centers.
I was more surprised at the magnitude of shock that rattled our collective complacency and transformed it into collective panic.
This is a challenge avid readers, evolutionists, and critical thinkers face:
We see things coming. We see the worst coming. And we don’t act. We don’t even speak, because our words are too concise and too well-constructed to be understood as anything apart from paranoia to ears reinforced by the comfort of status quo.
With international friends, my people and I spoke sometimes seriously, mostly in jest about our presidential candidacy. There were a few favorite approaches.
Reinforcing political stances - “If this government was truly for the people..”
Intellectualizing - “Our corporate capitalism is simply another political model created in a hierarchical scheme. We are blinded by a hierarchy named democracy, which is a concept of governance built upon inherent inequalities. No matter the policies enacted in a democracy, its very premise guarantees the perpetuation of an underclass. Some must be excluded from the decision-making and disenfranchised from the vote..”
Avoiding blame - “I’m from California..we have no idea how this happened.”
The election marked a swift turning point in conversational topic as I migrated from Montreal to Pittsburgh, from coffee shops to bus stops, spanning the range of demographics.
I don’t want to partake in tiresome chatter anymore unless we are ready to offer solutions-oriented plans and are willing to implement them.
I aim to be fully present in my environment, practice compassion in my interactions, and write stories I haven’t yet read. This is the commitment that carries me onward as my trip continues without end. There is no end to the work of those dedicated to the relief of human suffering.
I seek nothing particular.
Without seeking, without narrowing scope of vision to the acquisition of something tangible beyond a cozy bed and a warm shower, I cherish the subtle elation of unrestricted movement, a surrendering of expectation that breeds satisfaction derived from freedom of expression.
About expression: There is a notable difference between expressions from a heart in a state of peace and one that is not. One fulfilled provides comfort in its speech regardless of the chaos of its surroundings. Think curiosity inspiring open questioning, affirmations, and encouragement. One unfulfilled tailors speech for self-preservation, even at the stake of injury to others. Think fear that triggers targeted interrogation, conspiracy, and put-downs.
(Mini-challenge: Which type of heart did I encounter most during my trip and how were they cultivated? Please critically examine your hypothesis and prepare to explain.)
We can know fear without giving in to the beckoning that is its epidemic. We can create our peace from which to operate. Let's entrust ourselves with that power and transform what remains of our collective panic into collective action.