Forgiving Vulnerability

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“A little rough around the edges, but I keep it smooth” Janelle Monae.

Sometimes we’re hard and tough. Other times we’re soft and flexible. That’s why I like this lyric by the artist Janelle Monae. Discussing the yin and yang aspects of ourselves, parts that are often at odds with each other. Our society rewards the hard and tough persona as long as you are willing to be seen as soft and flexible. It is more difficult to operate as soft and flexible simply because the people we interact with are not expecting it and may see it as a sign of aggression. How can vulnerability and availability be aggressive?

Possibly these two characteristics describe someone who is open and receptive which opposes a secretive nature that relies on the absence of information. As individuals, we are taught to play a “game of life” rather than “live our life”. The performance of a player of the game gives the impression that you are well versed in how to navigate this society. It supposes that the impression is enough, even if the means are lacking. It is likely that the means to create the vision of ones life (in a capitalistic system) will make itself available through continued determination. However, as a player, you may forget who you are at the core. Swapping authenticity for an image of what could be.

But, what is is the most important. Where you are at in the here and now can be as revealing and pivotal as memories of winning a tournament or successfully completing a class as a youth. The story we tell ourselves of who we are supposed to be and how we are supposed to achieve that can be limiting. We can see certain experiences as obstacles or negative events when in actuality they are just not what we expect. They may not illicit the outcome we expect, but they also may not impede our ultimate goal.

Wavering between soft and rough in a world that requires callouses can be confusing. We tend towards needing validation from so many outside sources that the only way to see oneself is through the computation of others. There are too many variables for us to rely on outside forces to communicate whether we are correct in our choices. These are choices that are right for ourselves and for the benefit of our overall wellbeing. Based in doing no harm, we would belie ourselves more in upholding a false impression than reflecting our true selves.

Realizing that we are moving through the world instead of the world moving through us places the onus on the individual to participate in their own life. This participation requires that we bump up against uncomfortable moments, but these moments do not define the entirety of what we set out to achieve. They inform us. They are information that should only guide us, not hinder and prevent. So move through the world. Do what appears to disrupt the disquietude and spend time being a little rough around the edges, but keep it smooth.

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Change Your Address: When Dialogue is Not Enough

Dialogue is the cornerstone of creating community. While our communities contend with the antagonisms of today, it is up to each member of the community to take it upon themselves to make an effort. Still, it can be exhausting to be one of few people exerting themselves in this way. In this event, take consideration of the resistance you encounter. If you employ all tactics of peaceful and creative discussion then you may simply have to make your exit.

Too often this is where we get stuck in the conversation about having meaningful dialogue. It’s not about relinquishing proper information, but knowing when the listener is not able to gain anything from the exchange. This is probably also when you may begin to feel a bit depleted. Once you begin to feel energy being drained from your efforts it’s wise to withdraw. The other person is worth the time but it is crucial we know when to cut it off.

Awareness of a persons capacity to receive information is just as important as having the information they need. This knowledge can save you from over exerting yourself in the thankless position as martyr. I’m sure you will gain more respect from knowing when and where to draw the line than engaging in an anger fueled “I’m right!” fest.

Change Your Address: Living in the Buddha Land 🙏🏼🛤

It is often incorrectly assumed that the mere act of thinking about a things negative aspects makes negative energy emerge in your reality. If it were true, that what we think becomes reality, then many of us would have exactly what we want all the time. Think it and it will appear. While it is true that our thoughts impact our surroundings, it is acting upon those thoughts that create the environment.

Across the internet, there are articles espousing the effects of positive thinking on the realization of ones dreams. The thesis being your dreams will come true if you assuage self doubt. Self doubt being one of many names given to why the thing in your life isn’t happening. Why your true talent is not on display and getting paid. But most of our heroes and heroines did not receive the accolades they deserved during their life, only posthumously. Even the poverty they contended with is romanticized as a type of alternative lifestyle, rather than a symptom of a wealth-centered social ideology.

According to Nichiren Daishonin, “from the single element of mind springs all the various lands and environmental conditions”. This expresses the Buddhist principle of “three thousand realms in a single moment.” This hinges on the idea that what is in a person’s heart and mind impacts their environment. Therefore, the hearts and minds of persons in a community greatly affect the community at large. Now, this is not done through osmosis but carried out in our actions, both micro and macro. It is in what we think of ourselves and how we perceive others. By definition, according to Social Psychology, social neuroscience is the study of how our social behavior both influences and is influenced by the activities of our brain (Lieberman, 2010) and social influence is the process through which other people change our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and through which we change theirs. If we live in an environment of ongoing aggressions we may find it difficult to fight against them. Even the notion of fighting against them plays into The cultural affect of control. We do not have control over other individuals. We only have control over ourselves, therefore it is of most importance to cultivate a self perception that does not harm. We can then use this strong sense of self to advocate for the happiness of others.

It is important to be aware of cultures and cultural differences, at least in part because people with different cultural backgrounds are increasingly coming into contact with each other as a result of increased travel and immigration, and the development of the Internet and other forms of communication.

-Principles of Social Psychology, 1st Edition

It may be one of the most difficult things to do but having genuine dialogue with others creates an opportunity to alter perception. It is not necessary to be invested in the other persons change, rather the goal should be to offer another way of thinking. This new way of thinking can lead to new actions or better decisions that ultimately continue this cycle to cause no harm.

When we engage in conversation about difficult subjects, we tend towards pushing our position onto others. We want their acceptance of what we say whether or not we even realize if it is necessary. People change their points as it suits the argument, shading each angle to lean towards their desired outcome. This is why it is imperative to understand why you are having the discussion in the first place. The purpose is not to force someone to believe as you do. The purpose is to discover who they are.

During these tumultuous times we should use discernment when considering dialogue with our neighbors. One thing a Buddha must be aware of is a person’s capacity to understand and receive information. It is a wonderful thing to have wisdom and share it but if the audience is not ready to receive the information the message is lost and the lesson is not learned. This is also true for how wisdom is imparted. It is just as important to correctly deliver information as it is to have the information to deliver.

And there is a difference between sharing knowledge and sharing wisdom. Knowledge is information, facts, and data, statistics that soundly describe and define specific aspects of our society and how they function. Wisdom, on the other hand, involves more listening than speaking. And when the opportunity arises to speak, only the most necessary information should be conveyed. There is a point the other person is probably attempting to make and instead of silencing them with an espousal of all you know, tread upon the verbal and physical language they use. Employ your best self and hear them out. Be cooperative. It’s not for you to take on their feelings. Many people will express their hearts through anger and resentment. This is due to the lack of control felt in our lives. Exerting anger on another person relinquishes it of true atonement. The illusions of this world can dissipate under the guidance of a compassionate heart.

Neighbors are competitors instead of partners, suspicious instead of trustful, indifferent instead of helpful, cold instead of loving, greedy instead of generous. We no longer consider ourselves living in neighborhoods, but only as living next to ‘hoods.’

-Mother Angelica

Chronic: Health & Relationships

When you’re sick, sometimes you feel like a burden. Even if you’re not “in the way” you may believe because you are not actively contributing that you are hindering. The only way to avoid piling this part of the suffering on to the rest of the suffering is to have compassionate, patient people around. It’s imperative to have support that openly tells you that you are loved right where you are as you are.

I am often inclined to apologize for how I feel. From a young age, it was made clear that becoming ill or sustaining an injury was a problem. Not something to solve, but something to bear. Something to anticipate happening again.

People will offer ways in which you could “better express yourself” as if the discomfort you experience is a reflection of your soul. Change your mood. Change your attitude. Change the way you feel. But the reality is you are sick and have to sit with the feelings. They just have to sit and wonder.

This is where guilt plays a role in how we take care of ourselves and those around us. If we’ve been neglectful then we may overcompensate. In this extra exertion we turn the compassionate act of caring for others into a sort of debt that can only be paid if the persons disposition improves. If they don’t get better on any level, we take it as a personal affront, a type of rejection.

This obviously creates a nasty cycle for the caregiver and cared-for, a co-dependent relationship hinged on a kind of success that will never come. Life is an adjustment few want to adhere. It’s truly uncomfortable to constantly transition or be aware or these timely changes throughout the years.

Romance and intimacy have to adjust as well. The fantasy people create to live up to must be altered into a fantasy you can live. Why does happiness and pleasure have to be just out of reach to be valued? There’s always more to have. Build a perception of your life that includes more tangible successes rather than unattainable goals. It might not seem sexy but reality rarely is as sexy as our fantasies.

My wish is to be loved. I see how we engage in relationships that do not seem compatible or balanced. I see how we also make up for these areas of lack as we discover how to build a life. Some understand this as growth and others inevitably feel they have over compensated for social training that neither serves them or their intended partners. Wondering, why is it that I can’t find someone to talk to me and treat me exactly as I need them to? They gray area can be huge and daunting.

This gray area is where I live now with my health. I do not suffer as others do, but I understand clearly what I am experiencing. The feat is contending with those around that ultimately believe I can will myself to feel better by wanting to feel better. Of course I want that. But birth, sickness, aging, death. These things we can’t escape.

I hope to re-enter relationships that serve the heart and soul. I hope to find compassionate people who may operate from guilt but don’t live there. I hope to be embraced.

🌤A New Beginning🌈

Kisses from a-broad.

It’s taken a couple months to write again. Many personal and professional happenings needed to run their course. It was more important to be mindful of what was taking place than to document the narrative.

I find it is important to take time to refine oneself, polish the stone with wind or water, shaping and changing. I’m sure this can be agreed upon. However, the how in “taking time” is very personal. It’s unique to you alone. The most loving partner can only support this process that they themselves cannot avoid.

The more difficult circumstance is contending with these transformations without support. The crux is that new beginnings occur whether we ask for them or not. Our preparation must come in the form of daily living. Constructive habits that contribute to the lifestyle and wellbeing we want to project. This contribution is not always found in huge efforts to radically alter our existence but small, progressive attitudes and actions that benefit our overall desires.

What would the post card read if I wrote myself a note at the culmination of that short journey? It would be curt and unimaginative. I learned that quiet and pain and fear have a crucial relationship with one another. Many moments of pain can make one moment of relief, like ecstasy. You hold on to that slight freedom and make believe all the things you’ll accomplish. Success becomes a smile and a laugh before the rush of discomfort overtakes the previous aim.

It’s not over. It’s just begun to attack everything you had once maintained as right. As doable. One day turns to one week, then two, and the realization that change is far from a choice is shouted in your ears. It’s deafening.

After it changes you, be prepared to discuss those changes with your people. Those closest to you should know you are not who you used to be, pretended to be or maintained yourself as…tell ’em who you are now. The reel running your show in their head probably needs editing and an update. Sure, you are still the same essential you, but now you’ve been forced to evolve and see your transformation for what it is…about time!

Because I Said So: A King’s Response

There are fewer indicators that somebody means what they say than actually saying what they mean. This week Kanye West (KW) and DJ Khaled (DJK) have had a monologue with the world. Soliloquies that do not include the actual love they have a espoused for the past years. A message of love that was clearly a gimmick meant to pull in young audiences and brand them as cross-cultural creative ambassadors.

Now the cats out the bag. Puss is in boots and these boots were made for walking.

Despite what these men have said, the conversation is really about how egomaniacal and self-centered these husbands are towards their audience and, more directly, their wives. As single men, they took one approach towards their fans and brands. Now that they are married with progeny, these men feel that they have advice to share from their positions in society. But, just like Jay Z, grown men’s revelations are their own, some are just fortunate to make money putting their thoughts on wax. The difference is how the message is delivered and KW and DJK possess no finesse in their delivery. Ironically, this is about their inability to use their mouths for good.

These two points of contention need to be addressed: (1) can you base the evolution of your thoughts on evidence of new learning and (2) does anyone benefit from your ideas but yourself?

If your answers are NO then there’s a problem and it’s YOU. Learning is a life long process. If we stop reading and having dialogues we impede our personal and collective growth. Without dialogue we cannot change minds but dialogue requires all parties to listen to what the other has to say. Maybe it’s basic and altogether irrelevant but you have to hear it to know. Then you can begin to adjust and determine what is wisdom and what is utterly damaging self righteousness.

In the words of DJK, “Congratulations, you played yourself!” Karma is sure-fire and ever present. The need for attention and to maintain a masculine profile has brought to light how troubling the rationale of men can be. It is damaging to all parties. It damages our relationships and our communities. Let’s practice the ART of COMMUNICATION.

The Spiral 💔🌪

img_1423.jpgIt fluctuates between the confessions of love and the demand for performance. The success of laughter and the failure of words. The thought of familiarity and the knowledge that it remains superficial.

It’s easy to fall back into the Spiral. You’ve talked yourself out of the manipulation and into new possibilities. Then, They, turn your desire for new possibilities into an expression of selfishness and opposition. I mean, it must be understood that you can’t expect Them to take news positively if They view it as bad. There is no changing their mind to accept the set of criteria you are presenting as reasonable practices for breaking up fair. Some people are used to extremely destructive behaviors being the cause of their separation. Some realize they’re just growing apart. Sometimes it’s a matter of perspective.

Speaking of perspective…the Spiral requires that you have a keen awareness of problematic habits brought out or performed by Them and are still open enough to listen to the pain of their suffering. Even if it’s the suffering they bring on themselves.

We can’t expect them to perfect the relationship hustle any time soon. So the question is whether or not the length of the process is worth the wait? People are always worth our time. BUT, they are not entitled to take from us what they never intend to replenish. The sad part is when they recognize there is nothing left.

However the saddest part, is that the Spiral stems from childhood and adolescence when we learn how to respond to the emotional needs of others. If we are given limited img_1422opportunities to express ourselves and feel our feelings, we may repeat these behaviors into adulthood because they’ve never been corrected. It is difficult to reserve our corrections, the learning from our lessons for the experience of intimate partnerships. Will we have enough experience to draw from…or perhaps too much? If we put this work off, then we risk learning far too late how to improve ourselves and be a person who is capable of being in a long term relationship.

#TheSpiral🌪

SKYLARITY

Paradigm Shift, Mindfulness, and Personal Empowerment

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