interdependence is iterative

interdependence is one of the elements of emergent strategy that i have been studying (and, i thought, embodying) over the past few years.

i love it theoretically – no one is alone! in an ideal scenario of radical interdependence, we would take from the planet what we needed to sustain ourselves, and care for and protect the place and life forms of home. we would take from each other what we needed, what we lacked, and offer to each other from our abundance. its a lovely idea and i am slightly obsessed with cultivating it, particularly in movement spaces.

this past month i have gotten some practice in it, and really noticed the iterative nature of interdependence. what i have been studying by being hyper aware inside my life is how much being interdependent is a series of small repetitive motions.

i am excited to share observations anytime i am able to from inside an experience, and that isn’t always possible. much of this past month was hard in ways i couldn’t move through my mouth or fingers with any coherence.

the feelings were clear, though…

perhaps not all feelings fit inside of words anyway. it is presumptive to ever assume we are understanding each other, but what a balm it is to feel understood, or even just held tightly when your spirit is dancing beyond comprehension.

the things i had do repeatedly towards interdependence:

1. be seen.

initially with defensiveness (i am not like you say i am) even/especially in the face of experts (i have diagnosed myself, i know what is wrong with me).

and then, perhaps, without agency. because being seen is actually non-negotiable, though i can hide or i can determine my level of grace and relationship in it.

on so many levels, interdependence requires being seen, as much as possible, as your true self. meaning that your capacity and need are transparent.

meaning even when i don’t want to look in the mirror, i am (and i choose to be) open to the attention of others.

sometimes i start with my w.o.e.s., or those with whom i am co-evolving through friendship. i show something i’ve been hiding, and hope i’m still lovable. this generally goes better than could be expected, every single time.

i have also tried starting out naked on a hard table under a bright light, shivering from the cold of so many strangers’ eyes.

i can walk towards this ‘being seen’ and experience the beauty of releasing all that guard and protection, that miracle distortion. or i can resist it and only be seen in moments of trauma and loss of control.

but i will be seen, and the more i open to it, the gentler and more necessary that attention feels.

(as i was writing this i was reminded that interdependence is basically the song lean on me in practice: ‘for no one can fill those of your needs that you don’t let show.’)

2. be wrong.

there is nothing like the wrong feeling of being an intuitive witchy healer and having to be told something indisputable about your body.

particularly if you’ve already done the thorough work of disputing said something. out loud. at a volume that might, by some, be described as unmedicated anguish level. it’s pitiful wrong.

the easier ‘being wrong’ is for you (the faster you can release your viewpoint), the quicker you can adapt to changing circumstances. adapting allows you to know and name current needs and capacity, to be in relationship in real time, as opposed to any cycle of wishing and/or resenting what others do or don’t give you.

sometimes there isn’t one definitive truth (my favorite situations).

and sometimes there is one and you can’t see it. (least favorite. least.)

just at least consider it, that place where you are wrong might be the most fertile ground for connecting with and receiving others.

and in a beautiful twist, being soft in your rightness, as opposed to smashing people with your brilliance, can open others up to whatever wisdom you’ve accumulated. i am grateful to all the people who were softly right about me this past month when i couldn’t see my own needs.

3. accept my inner multitudes.

an honest self would agree to some self-care practice or limitation that would protect my recovering wounded body. and then another – honest, even earnest – self would almost immediately act against that agreement.

i’d be half bent over to lift something when the voice of one of my precious beloveds would slip through – ‘seriously what the fuck are you doing?’

(my loved ones are pure molasses sweetness.)

there is a me that wants to get that sugar devil away from me for good. there is a me that can’t go through physical trauma without ice cream, can’t even imagine that.

the more i accept this, the more i can share my contradictory truths with those who can support me, help me move towards my best self.

i am not turning against myself, i am multitudes. the tide to be turned is a process of inner alignment, those who wish to support me need me to be vulnerable with that inner contradiction.

4. ask for, and receive, what i need.

can you drive me to the hospital?
can you explain what is happening to me?
can you stop my pain?
can you open this water bottle?
can you help me stand up and sit down?
can you open the door?
can you put my bag in the overhead bin?
can you bring me groceries?
can you drive me to the airport and actually park and help me bring my suitcase inside?
can you hold me while i cry?
can you heal me?
and so on for what feels like forever…

and most of all, the childlike request inside of story telling: can you listen while i feel this?
again?
again?

i’m learning that interdependence is not about the equality of offers in real time. i had to ask most of these things of people i didn’t necessarily know, or knew but wouldn’t be able to offer anything to in the foreseeable future. i had to trust in that karma-ish idea that the support i’ve offered in the past or will offer in the future would balance this scale which felt so me-tilted.

over and over and over i offered up my small self and was held in big ways. thread through me, again, again.

the result of this experience is that i feel so much more woven into the world. i still anticipate my independence, my default can-do self space. but i don’t want to sever any of this connecting fabric between myself and all of the incredible people who held me through this past month, saw me, corrected me, held me in my contradictions, met my needs. i want more of my life to feel this interdependent, this of community and humanity. i love knowing how incredible it feels to have a need met, to be loved and cared for, and also know how incredible it feels to meet an authentic need.

it’s data, all this learning. tender data.

y’all who fed, held, carried, cleaned, transported, protected, scolded, listened and loved up on me through this…i’m in really love with y’all.

to be whole (a collective poem from detroit center for whole communities gathering)

detroit-based alumni of the center for whole communities programs came together today to dialogue and share awareness practices. one thing we have done is gathered thoughts during the dialogues into a poem structure. here is the poem that emerged in response to the questions ‘what do we need in our work? what do we need to feel whole?’

the work will get weird in these lean times
like minds want to move out of lockstep alignment
to be our whole selves we have to climb out of the
small box of our righteousness
the anxiety of staying on our linear paths
the crisis of self
the stagnation
the resilience that holds what is though it must go
let go of the cynic inside
let go of the bully who must win
relinquish the uniform
close the book on institutions
don’t speak what they taught you
shed the skin

we must forgive ourselves for all we do not know
we are the animators
we must bring the light
walk by in this world together
talk at more depth
let go of this frenetic activism – it doesn’t work
we need to waste time with each other
how do you come, how do you go?

the universe nurtures me
the creativity of the 13.8 billion year old story
the planet, our teacher, says
learn wonder
we are frozen to each other
what is the spring of the soul?
the seed is still there

what will the child think of my life?
the protest politic depresses me
i long for the art of the elephant
for the cosmos
‘we are all star stuff’
i am not impossible
see – i need what you need, want what you want
and i can carry on
rooted and nurtured
affirmed in community with others
redemption is collective
‘we don’t only inherit land from our ancestors,
we borrow it also from our children’

breathing into this moment in context
with emotional and spiritual agency
risk inside of love
we can remember: being is an act of resistance
we imagined these zoos
now is the time to bring courage and grace
to necessary failures
upending our hows
our hows which undo our peace
if we can release,
what can evolve?

more chapters.

– jan 29, 2014
detroit
by gloria rivera, gloria lowe, shane bernardo, adela nieves, patrick crouch, diana copeland, ginny mcginn, michelle martinez, adrienne maree brown