i’ve been watching a lot of star trek lately. the idea of what is logical, as represented by the vulcan way of living, has a lot of appeal to me as a philosopher, as a virgo, as a member of lots of intersectional communities.
i love the approach espoused by spock during his first death, ‘the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.’
it is in that spirit that i throw in my two cents on marriage, gay people being seen as equal, and accessing benefits in this country.
1. accessing benefits in this country shouldn’t be determined by whether you make a long-term commitment to one other person.
2. but if benefits are only accessible through making a long-term commitment, then determining which people get to participate, whichever genders they may be (and however many are participating ), should be up to those making and living with the commitment, not by external religious norms.
3. because we have separation of church and state as our first amendment, and defining marriage by gender is a religious practice, not a legal, scientific or experiential need or reality.
4. and fortunately, within religious communities, there are active ongoing conversations about the space between what has been taught and what is being experienced. humanity is still learning what is sacred, and how to interact with each other on this finite shared planet with such divergent beliefs. i wish those engaged in those battles within particular elder religious institutions well.
5. but that has nothing to do with what our nation should be deciding and determining for our people. approving and controlling love is not the appropriate work of a government, which is why denying the right to love for any reason eventually fails.
6. so, as the brilliant mervyn marcano says, with deep respect to all my gayest married-est homies, trusting your love AND knowing that we battle on the ground that is politically viable – “I, for one, am hoping marriage is legalized so folks can finally be RID of this tantalizing distraction from what’s really important: housing, healthcare and human rights for all.”
i pulled a tarot card in the morning and it focused me on ‘ordinariness’, giving my all to the mundane and seeing that every simple thing can be special.
i was game.
and as a result i had quite a day.
perhaps it was an offering from the universe because i couldn’t go to the octavia e butler celebration of the fantastic arts. by the time i heard about it, i couldn’t afford to get there – or i could, but it wouldn’t have been a smart and informed financial choice. several people who did go are sending me pics and reports.
food power was a lovely event pulled together by momsrising.org (dream hampton holding it down in the D), hosted by oya amakisi, featuring filmmaker byron hurt screening his latest documentary soul food junkies.
sitting in that room i was struck by the realization that reveling in the ordinary is part of what makes people extraordinary to me.
in the room were extraordinary people, including but not limited to dream hampton, jessica care moore, lottie spady, shane bernardo, myrtle thompson curtis, kadiri sennefer, tepfirah rushdan, monifa bandele, eryka marie, of course byron hurt, just so many. and what was so beautiful was that all of those people were there because they are trying to figure out very ordinary things: how do we eat healthy, how do we feed our children, how do we reimagine food that is at the center of black culture?
it is restorative to watch these all of these amazing people shift from being extraordinary to trying to do very ordinary things wholeheartedly. it is amazing to feel this shift within myself. to be present and intentional more and more, in each task, in each aspect of life.
Revolution begins with the self, in the self. It may be lonely. Certainly painful. It’ll take time. We’ve got time. That of course is an unpopular utterance these days. We’d better take the time to fashion revolutionary selves, revolutionary lives, revolutionary relationships. If your house ain’t in order, you ain’t in order. It is so much easier to be out there than right here. The revolution ain’t out there. Yet. But it is here.
~ Toni Cade Bambara
“On the Issue of Roles” in The Black Woman Anthology (pp. 133-135) (thanks janine for sending me this on time!)
i love time.
if there is a constant in this world, something that i feel deeply grateful for on a regular basis, it’s the passage of time and the capacity to see it passing, and see my self changing.
i am home after another week with the babies. i have technically been home 4 days this year. i have felt home every single day though, in montreal, ny, cali, denver, new orleans, dc, and of course that little house in the woods in central minnesota.
i have been so at home out in the woods with the babies, feeling the beautiful ease with which they give me their trust and their rage and their vulnerability – it’s creating in me a really tender different way of being present, with my body and my creativity and my patience. they have such unabashed longing to know and control and destroy and create. it is deeply inspiring to see the level of human emotion that we all learn to manage, for better or for worse.
home with them means waking up to wet diapers and toilet lessons, breakfast, starting fires, playing, cleaning, negotiating, reading, planning adventures and surprises and treats, holding and bouncing and rocking and dancing and feeling both my limitations and my unconditionality and then falling into bed at the end of the day exhausted and delighted with life.
i have been at home in long late night talks with some of my oldest friends, and with new friends, all of whom are intentionally caring about me and moving closer in my life.
i find i need each interaction i am having right now. i am learning that the quality of my presence shapes whether something useful happens in exchange for my attention. this lesson is emerging from work i am doing on my relationship with mortality…in the meantime i am growing my commitment to wasting none of my life and energy.
i have been at home holding space for black women’s reproductive justice with someone nearly twice my age; we recognized each other as kindred. homecoming can happen between two people, in groups, regardless of all the history or distance between us.
i have been coming home to forgiveness, of myself and others. i am cultivating the level of forgiveness that allows closed doors to meld into the wall of memory, allows new openings and possibilities to emerge. i am balancing light that nourishes when it falls on the truth, darkness that is fecund instead of concealing.
time is everything in the work of forgiveness. intentional days matter. and years matter. and then decades matter.
now i find i am different than i thought i was. i am not sure if this is actually change, or just radical remembering. fortunately the effect is so magnificent that i am not sure it matters, the distinction.
i am remembering how to soften my edges enough to move against a tantrum and bring solace, to be in a moment without trying to narrate it, to be honest about how i feel in the moment, to be with people, including – especially – my family. to be WITH as my whole self, the responsibility of all i am in any given room.
i am coming home to feeling my beauty, my spirit and my health in my body…whoo child. i promise to only use my powers for good.
i am lit up by the small miraculous experiences i am having, remembering how to be important to one person at a time, as opposed to feeling i should be important to many.
and of course i have been at home in rooms that were equal mixes of beloveds and strangers, smiling at each other, intoxicated by the erotic scent of brilliance that octavia butler has left all over our lives.
an email from jeff perlstein led to an event in oakland, and now it feels like some awesome octavia butler and emergent strategy world tour with new orleans, dc and minneapolis already touched.
the events have been SO different – in oakland it was a revival. in new orleans it was a close sweet circle of people at the neighborhood story project, really longing for time to read and think together. in dc, at bread for the city, it was more quiet, with reflection on what it means to be radical in that city of extremes. there, a homeless man brought the current apocalyptic parallel universe into the room with us along with a set of challenges on how to hold cross-class conversations that shift us away from charity and towards power in the face of actual hunger and need.
in minneapolis we were in moon palace, a bookstore opened four months ago that quickly filled up with parents and their babies, including my nephew and nieces, who provided the energetic and musical background to our conversation – i got to watch the way parents can be present with two things at once in a way that doesn’t feel diminishing, but is a skill of loving people who need you for their safety.
i am hoping these conversations spark lots of reading of octavia butler’s work intentionally, politically. and that a lot more cities want to have events – in the next few months i’ll be in new york, new mexico, buffalo, back in oakland and minnesota, and of course home in detroit. hint hint.
it feels like i’m home from an accidental second sabbatical, this one focused on connecting with friends, family and soulmates as deeply as last year was about connecting deeply with myself. each of these people and places are growing the pattern of my life, scaling up as i step into myself.
and of course there’s been a soundtrack:
– kendrick lamar
– bruno mars
– ellie goulding – ‘anything could happen’
– rihanna – ‘diamonds’
– martha wainwright
and of course audre lourde on the uses of the erotic (listen and let your life be different):
and of course stevie nicks reminding me it’s all good, it’s my wild heart.
and kimbra has been singing me through the journey, over and over again, ‘home is here.’