“Perhaps the bigger question is what are we doing so wrong in our culture or what is ailing us such that the hospital has now become the only way most people can “afford” to vacation and take a break from the demands of life?”
It is customary in many cultures to remember that when you visit a house, you never go empty-handed. But what we applied this to our encounters with each other?
*Originally aired on on Green Mountain Mornings with Chris Lenois on 100.3 / 1490 WKVT.
Photo Credit: Chinue Clifford
I usually don’t get involved with the “Throw Back Thursday” hoopla, but I figured for today, why not! This is a segment (from a recent past) originally aired on Green Mountain Mornings with Chris Lenois for the “Ponder This” segment on 100.3 / 1490 WKVT.
It talks about how there are many people, places and things that will show up for us. However, there is one catch…..we have to say what we want out loud.
Photo Credit: Shanta Lee
For the past few years, I’ve reflected on these roots tied to V-day alongside everything happening in the world. Love and the very act of loving has felt more rebellious now more then ever, especially amidst police brutality, random shootings, and many other happenings that sometimes feels like we are losing our humanity or ability to connect with one another.
As we settled into our chairs and gave a proper standing ovation to welcome Dr. West, I sat in my seat awestruck my by his words. His speech had a common thread which kept returning to the concept of the Love Warrior. He took all of us on an adventure pulling the curtain back on the long line and legacy of what those words meant, at one point stating,
“What motivated these folks was such a profound love that they are close to the edge of their own lives…”
As he continued on as a skilled cartographer charting the illustrious line of love warriors also being referred to as Witness Bearers, Truthtellers, his speak had a serpentine pathway having us all revisit four questions posed by W.E.B. DuBois,
“How shall Integrity face Oppression?
What shall Honesty do in the face of Deception?
What does decency do in the face on insult?
What does virtue do in the face of brute force?”
As we were all reminded of these questions, we were also reminded of what it truly meant to become a love warrior,
To become a rebel,
to take action or be able to utter the word, activist,
“When you decide to be an activist, you decide to be on intimate terms with catastrophe.”
“Folks can’t ride your back if it is straight” while encouraging us to imagine more in our institutions of education beyond just rewarding smartness.
In every way, this was an open love letter to all of us in this moment. Reminding us of ourselves, calling to us to be a “misfit rather than fit in.”
Reminding us, “Never confuse greatness with success. So many heroes are being projected for the younger generation tend to be successful but not great.”
So perhaps we might remember to think about all of the ways we wish to be, walk, talk and do in the world in such a way that we too can become those who are inspired by a love that is so great within us that we can’t help but to put it back into the world.
” As Dr. West’s words inspired, we also saw the lineage of misfits and activists who were dubbed as ‘Love Warriors.” These Love Warriors (of present and past) stitched together the right balance of decency, honesty, integrity, and virtue during times when these very acts demanded life and breath. As Dr. West spoke about love warriors, it occurred to me that I’d been witnessing one all along especially on this very night on the stage.
Just before we left, I mentioned to my friend, “I want to get a hug, we have to go get a hug.” She with her journal in hand for an autograph, I realized that I had nothing for him to sign as I nervously searched my pockets. Instead, I figured I could ask for a hug because of the way he dared to live. I was hoping to leave perhaps with a fraction of the energy and love that seemed to flow through Dr. Cornell West’s body.
With hope, inspiration, and laws of alchemy, maybe his energy, love manifesto, and audacity would stay with me as a reminder for how I wished to be in the world.
(Initial thoughts from Dr. Cornell West Speech at Smith College on Thursday, February 11, 2016)
It was somewhere between 2000 and 2001. While I could have my years wrong, I recall the image that I saw as I descended into the basement of Trinity College’s Mather Hall. It was an over sized black and red poster with white lettering advertising an upcoming event, Dr. Cornell West was coming to speak at Trinity College. At the time I did not know much about him, but was drawn in by the signature hair and glasses.
I continued moving on to whatever I was doing and never made it to the event. Over the next 15 years, my regret of not attending that event that was right on my own campus turned into a small mountain of regret. The more I read and learned about Dr. West over the years, the more I realized the opportunity I missed. A chance encounter with a friend on the street a couple of weeks ago changed all that,
“Oh, are you going to see Cornell West? He is speaking at Smith College on February 11.” Without hesitation or saying the usual, “I will check my calendar” I had to reply, “YES!”
That week came along and per usual, I vacillated between committing to the plan of attending and wanting to stay home. The week exhausted me along with a dull headache that took up residence with me for 2 days. I kept thinking back to my feeling of regret and continued to fight with myself until deciding that it was not worth the gamble. I had to go see Dr. West that Thursday.
As we approached one of the main halls on Smith College’s campus, the buzz and energy was instant as we reached within eyesight of the main auditorium. The auditorium of this main hall came into focus and I saw all of the seats packed from balcony to bottom. We excitedly tried to claim one of the front row seats, but we were politely told that those were reserved for media. “I should have brought my camera and made up a media pass” I told my friend. But we quickly found three vacant seats about four rows back on the right side of the auditorium. We were still close to the stage and sat in anticipation.
I am not sure if the talk at Trinity College would have felt or been the same, but I should explain why this was so timely. The date of his talk was about 3 days away from what most in the United States recognize as Valentine’s Day. However, over the past four years, I’ve chosen to recognize it as Rebel’s Day because of the way that St. Valentine stuck to his beliefs risking his life to marry couples against an edict that prohibited marriage. There are also many pagan roots tied to Valentine’s Day that have far more depth and meaning beyond the heart shaped chocolate boxes and pre-written hallmark cards.
There are varying quotes about fairy tales but one I always agreed with. The alleged Einstein quote,
But I’d like to take it further than that. My mother read me fairy tales and lots of books in general. I still recall an oversized grey-covered fairy tale book that I had as a little girl. I loved to open the book often just to stare at the illustrations and imagine these various worlds as created by these different tales.
As an adult reflecting upon many things in my life, I find that I have a deeper understanding of these fairy tales. Beyond the warnings, dangers, or other simple messages of being rescued within a distant “one day,” fairy tales have become something more for me. All of these stories that invaded my childhood and psyche created a bridge of understanding about the human condition.
I recognize that I’ve been Snow White asleep with my eyes open while refusing to see who I could and could not trust,
I’ve been Cinderella and had the universe wink at me through people, places and things that disappeared into time,
I’ve met Rumplestiltskin in varying forms as the trickster who served as my teacher to encourage me to believe in myself,
And the list goes on.
I’ve seen my share of Robber Bridegrooms, witches, dwarfs, and all forms of other characters all in service to unveiling lessons.
So, indeed it is true, read those fairy tales to your children for their intelligence but also revisit and/or re-read them for yourself to lend some understanding to life.
“I always had a problem pulling off ‘that look’ even when it was for safety purposes…”
Originally featured on Chris Lenois’s Green Mountain Mornings on WKVT.
This short piece is inspired by the article “Black Attitudes Matter: Why I Don’t Care If You Think I Look Mean” by Asleigh Shackelford. Her full article can be viewed here.
*A re-share from my other website WildlyCreative.World.*
When a death occurs, I look at how the spirit and living of the deceased inspires a need to improve the quality of our everyday lives beyond mere existing. For example, what can we learn by how others have been impacted by a life that has been well lived? How can we ensure that we are living our lives in such a way that inspires others to break beyond the can’ts, shouldn’ts, or other social or self-imposed restrictions?
There are no easy answers to those questions. However, we can take a moment to become inspired by an illustration of the life led by David Bowie. If David Bowie has taught us anything, he showed us that we can make space to change, grow, create despite the natural fear or hesitation to go to places we may not have imagined.
We can break-up with can’t and shouldn’t. We can add apology for our authentic ourselves to the bonfire while expanding beyond personal or social limitations.
His life extends an invitation to be comfortable in our own skin without explanation or apology. He encouraged us to live as ourselves and become audacious cartographers of our own beautifully complicated maps for others to enjoy.
May you rest in peace and thank you for all of the ways you encouraged us all to just be.
I started this reflective piece going down a list of lessons gathered from 2015. However, what felt more authentic and interesting (and in keeping with the way I usually arrive at these posts) is to share with you all some of my questions for the passing year. Perhaps you have some of your own or placed some of these questions upon a shelf for another time as we all make preparations for the beginning of a new year. Whatever you choose to do with our without these questions….Happy New Year!
What do you want to keep? What feels good?
What is no longer serving you? What hurts that you need to let go?
What is uncomfortable but worth it?
What was started that you wish to revisit or finish?
In examining your 2015, I want to leave you with a proverb that a friend just introduced me to last week. Technically every action going forward can be framed through the following wise words.
*Originally featured on Chris Lenois’s Green Mountain Mornings on WKVT.*
“Between the ages of 4 and 5 I would wait until adults were out of sight, snatch a toy, and run off with it full of joy from this short term victory….Many years later, due to a combination of observation, lived experience, and talking to various individuals….the things that I’ve come to want or desire were not as they seemed.”
Photo Credit: Liz LaVorgna