how we liberate ourselves

just had a conversation that was an exploration of how we liberate ourselves to pursue the work we are really meant to do.

and when i use liberation here, i mean this at the scale of utter societal and economic transformation, liberation from internal and intersocietal and interspecies oppression, but happening in the realm of the intimate and personal.

i was reminded in this conversation of a time when i was younger, and would hang out in various apartments, basements and clubs in ny making art and music and developing philosophy with other free folk, or folks straining towards personal and political freedom, not caring what anyone thought as long as we felt brilliant, talking ourselves into that blazing passion that is larger than our individualism.

and i was reminded of one of the things i noticed during my sabbatical: if my passionate self, physically, is repressed, unsatisfied, or only responding erotically to mainstream sexual images (skinny, white, hetero-normative sexual images), then my creativity is similarly limited.

when my passionate self experiences abundance, freedom, and self-love (not only loving myself, but starting to attune my brain and body to the sensual power and beauty of all thick, brown, queer and/or pansexual images and people) i notice that my creativity similarly explodes.

i don’t think i’m alone – mainstreaming our erotic lives for the sake of power or convenience is one of those final frontiers we are standing on the edge of: do you actually determine what is desirable in your own life – in any arena?

particularly in movement spaces, where desire is an unexplored territory we often only discuss in the context of crisis, scandal or dysfunction.

just as we are given a limited range of what is normal to desire physically through porn and film and magazines, we are given a limited range of what we can desire in our lives in terms of happiness, satisfaction, abundance, calm, power.

we are socialized to pursue a paycheck, stability, to settle in to place and become consumers. we internalize this, how to be normal, how to not upset the process, to the point that we believe even our critiques should fall along a certain line of desire.

it is ok to desire justice from the oppressive unfair capitalist system, but a little gauche to desire a new system founded in justice that we each have to personally practice in every interaction? because we are not supposed to desire the impossible, and a truly just human existence is impossible – it would require the emotional equivalent of a second opposable thumb or second brain that grew out of our hearts.

at least somehow we tell ourselves that – that this is the best we can do. settle for holding some balance in an eternal tug-of-war between good and evil. we repress that liberated concept of actual lived internalized justice.

this makes me think, what are all the ways in which we repress and contain ourselves, program ourselves to attune with the desired world of white straight capitalist culture?

i see fashion as one of those spaces – dressing in ways that are easily branded, mass-produce-able, versus dressing in ways that dance with existence, beauty, shape and color, completely unique to each person. micha cardenas is whispering into the world a vision of clothing that connects us to each other and keeps us in the safety of community while looking fly. trudy miller creates zero waste fashion items designed to make all body types feel beautiful. this is liberating fashion.

the way we actually create is another space of repression. i sing. i write songs and poems, every day i write like this, and every day, all the time i sing. singing gives me joy and helps me process my life. sometimes i am able to sing around others, able to feel the moment within me and sing it. sometimes i am able to blog my writing. throughout my life i have wrestled with the pressure to turn my singing and writing into a career, into cds and books and recordings and performance.

but from a place of liberation, for myself, i think i may never release music or writing in the ways that others often pressure me to. the joy of singing for me is in the every day, in my life. when i get asked to perform, to record, my ego enters into it, what other people think enters into it, what i think of as the capitalism, the “me me me”.

i have started to come out as a non-performer, and it has felt liberating. i still sing, but on the terms of my joy and comfort, when it serves the moment or a twinge in my heart. and maybe I will write a book, but not because it will make me a writer.

these days even becoming enlightened, wise, mindful, gets shaped by capitalism – becoming another space to compete for supremacy, for clients, for credit.

how do we carve out the space to continuously be learning and creating? to be part of a body of people learning together how to be humans? how do we open up enough room to not know – to really have no idea – and start from there, leaning into what is most beautiful and most true, leaning into all the changing conditions and articulating the moments and the time we are in?

because the conditions change, and the truth changes and WE must change. we must continue to develop new desires, a deeper capacity to see what is, as opposed to what is for sale. everything we have been taught that is designed to keep us participating in our own oppression, our societal mind prisons, our safe victimhoods, our 99/47% niche wherein we can safely rebel as a group without actually transforming ourselves – all of this has to be shaken off so we can be part of the evolutionary thrust that vibrates within us.

i don’t think this shaking off the polite and violent armor of capitalist non-creativity generally happens in the court of public opinion – in my life it has happened in basements, over dinners, in breathless phone calls, in bed, in remote mountain yurts. moments where we lean into each other and say, “you know what I mean?”

that greater greater self is in there waiting – in each of us. and as we release ourselves to be ourselves, that greater greater society and economy and existence become possible.

i heard that joaquin phoenix has credited his critically acclaimed performance in the upcoming movie ‘the master’ to the growth that came from his deeply out there project ‘i’m still here’ where he and casey affleck made a documentary about phoenix quitting acting and becoming jp, a rapper. in the process of making ‘i’m still here’, phoenix released himself from his beauty, his public persona, his relationships.

what is that greater work within you, where does humanity need you to be more humble and free and creative? what are you willing to shift in your own desires, self-image, self-love and world in order to liberate that greater work?

riffing in this conversation reminded me of a few segments of waking life, one of my favorite films of all time because it’s basically an animated journey through philosophy, and i’m basically an animated journeying philosopher.

enjoy, and keep liberating yourself.

segment 1:

I don’t know about you, but I’m concerned with what’s happening in this world.
I’m concerned with the structure.
I’m concerned with the systems of control, those that control my life and those that seek to control it even more!
I want freedom! That’s what I want!
And that’s what you should want!
It’s up to each and every one of us to turn loose and just shovel the greed, the hatred, the envy and, yes, the insecurities…because that is the central mode of control– make us feel pathetic, small…so we’ll willingly give up our sovereignty, our liberty, our destiny.
We have got to realize that we’re being conditioned on a mass scale.

Resistance is not futile. We’re gonna win this thing. Humankind is too good! We’re not a bunch of underachievers!
We’re gonna stand up and we’re gonna be human beings!
We’re gonna get fired up about the real things, the things that matter: creativity and the dynamic human spirit that refuses to submit!


Segment 2:
The quest is to be liberated from the negative, which is really our own will to nothingness. And once having said yes to the instant, the affirmation is contagious.
It bursts into a chain of affirmations that knows no limit.
To say yes to one instant…is to say yes to all of existence.

The main character is what you might call “the mind.” It’s mastery, it’s capacity to represent. Throughout history, attempts have been made…to contain those experiences which happen at the edge of the limit…where the mind is vulnerable.

But I think we are in a very significant moment in history.
Those moments, those what you might call liminal, Limit, frontier, edge zone experiences…are actually now becoming the norm.

These multiplicities and distinctions and differences…that have given great difficulty to the old mind…are actually through entering into their very essence, tasting and feeling their uniqueness.

One might make a breakthrough to that common something…
that holds them together. And so the main character is, to this new mind, greater, greater mind. A mind that yet is to be.

Segment 3:
The old evolution is cold. It’s sterile. It’s efficient, okay? And its manifestations are those social adaptations. You’re talking about parasitism, dominance, morality, okay? Uh, war, predation, these would be subject to de-emphasis. These would be subject to de-evolution.

The new evolutionary paradigm will give us the human traits of truth, of loyalty, of justice, of freedom. These will be the manifestations of the new evolution. That is what we would hope to see from this. That would be nice.