to paraphrase yet another thing that octavia butler said, in one of my favorite essays of hers: ‘talent is not enough, you must have persistence.’
i feel like i am learning the same thing about love.
love is not enough, loving someone and being loved is not enough. i have to have persistence. i have to practice. i have to be determined to look past what comes easily, and lean into the edges where i feel the wholeness of love, the vulnerable intimate hard truths on which love sheds light.
this past weekend i facilitated the detroit future youth transition gathering, and we asked everyone to name the superpower they were committing to this budding network. an amazing number of the youth said their superpower was dedication, will, hard work. they understand, at 13 and 17 and 21, that it is their force of will, their continuing to show up, that is their real power.
this illuminated to me the work i am also doing.
these days I think my superpower is feeling my feelings.
loving myself is hard work, it takes practice, it takes persistence. i have to set out, with determination, to look at the places of myself that hurt, that harbor fear and anger and anguish and self doubt. and i have to not run from or ignore those places, or blame anyone else for them. i have to love myself enough to look, to reach in and examine the pain until i reach the root of it.
and like toxic soil, i can’t just cement over it or dig it out, not if i ever want it to yield sustenance. i have to actually plant something new, something that has the power to detoxify, the emotional equivalent of sunflowers and mushrooms. and then i have to water that good strong creative force and be patient while it slowly slowly yields miracles and futures out of that deeply socialized scarred soil.
when i am spent and hungry and hopeless, seeing nothing green, i have to remember that nature is designed towards abundance. everything in this world, even the things which seem poisonous and annoying and fatal, can be sustenance. toxins and mosquitos are sustenance. so are the parts of me which ache and mourn and doubt. from those parts i am growing my wholeness, my deeper capacity for seeing the world as it is, for finding peace with it, for cultivating compassion for myself, for practicing love with more and more of my tiny precious life.
the darkness is fertile, sunlight is brave enough, wise enough to go into the places where it can be processed into life. i have to remember that while i’m reaching for the light.
practice, practice, practice – that is what makes the raw material magnificent.