resolve in the face of chaos.

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2016 is almost at an end.

typing those words, would seem for many to be associated with a
sigh of relief. this year has been an absolute roller-coaster. tragedy
and shock and bigotry and loss reverberated throughout the year
and seemed unceasing. i had heard about how leap years bring about
more catastrophe and turmoil. never really put stock into it until
this year.

on a personal level, i went through a series of moments where
that rang true. a period where stress and anxiety caused a bad health
flare-up. dealing with racism in a subversive sense and overtly
due to a poem on this blog. inconsistent work flow. dealing with
people who i thought were cool but turned out to be only out for
themselves. family members going through it.

but that cloud lifted. and the remainder of this year turned out to
be tremendous. i got to leave one trying work situation and enter
into working relationships with awesome publications and sites.
i pitched a lot more, and got good feedback and encouragement.
i got to bear witness to the National Museum of African American
History and Culture. i got to see one of my sisters honored for her
work in the community. i got to volunteer over Thanksgiving. and
connect with great souls.

with that said, if you’re thinking that this post is going to be all
about New Year’s resolutions, you’re only partially correct.

i’m writing about resolve. in its main definitions whether used
as a noun or verb, it is meant to be a decisive course of action. a
firm state of mind. and as we exit this tumultuous year and go into
a year of uncertainty, it is what is needed to go into the year to
be bolder than before. to be more aggressive in holding onto what
has been fought for, to maintain what is needed for our lives and
those of others and those after us. resolve.

see, resolutions around this time have been denigrated to cute and
buzz-worthy topic lists or fillers for newscasts or bandied-about
social media topics. bump all of that.

this is a time where you take stock of everything, then re-calibrate
and gain new focus. now more than ever, as the masks have come
off of those in close proximity to us, we need to commit to having
greater resolve. how? have greater resolve in calling out others for
their insensitivity, especially as it scales up to outright racism, sexism
and other isms of hate and ignorance. even if these others are your
neighbors, or family. have greater resolve in valuing those who are
there for you. have greater resolve in checking your own missteps
and don’t prolong beating yourself up over them. have greater
resolve in not just standing by in certain times. have greater resolve
in exerting kindness. have greater resolve in saying no when you
need to, to whoever you need to. have greater resolve in letting go
of people and situations who do not consistently value you or only
seek to take from you without redamancy. have greater resolve to
not position yourself above whatever truth you’re trying to bring
about. have greater resolve to seek joy, and celebrate your joy and
that of those you’re close to. have greater resolve to call out bullshit
even if you feel that clamminess of fear well up in you. even if it is
from your close loved ones. have greater resolve to continue to define
who you are. have greater resolve to fight however you need to in
whatever fashion seems best. have greater resolve not to shame others
for doing what you’re afraid to.

let’s face it, we’re at a moment where every action in the previous
paragraph and others not mentioned is going to be needed. given that
the nation has elected someone who is inherently unfit for the office
of leading this country, given that there’s a rising tide of hateful
bile strewn across the ‘Net and directed at women, people of color,
LGBTQIA and others, it’s imperative that resolve be a highly active
word in your vocabulary. i realize that by stating this i’m one voice.
but one voice, planted in resolve, can do so much. look at all of the
lives that went to the other side this year alone, the famous and the
more impactful close to us that aren’t celebrities. look at what they
did. resolve. it’s powerful. it’s meaningful. it’s necessary.

if you’ve read this far, i do resolve to write more on here. to be that
radical hope and change that’s needed again. and i hope that you
will be too.

thanks for reading. walk good.

Creating While Emotionally Crippled

Photo Feb 17, 1 04 16 PM

I find myself, on this afternoon thinking hard about the subject
and the title of this post. I find myself wondering who will read this,
and wondering slightly too much about who won’t. My finger hovers
over the delete function button every 15 seconds or so. I realize that
this is going to be a post where one or two people might read it, and
be hurt by it or by the implications. More so as I work on a fourth book
of poetry that pushes the envelope more than what some have come
to expect from me.

I breathe. I realize that healing, hurts. And that is the fear that makes
many of us hurt, hold on to hurt no matter how little or huge. And so,
I’m writing this out to you, dear readers. For whoever needs it, especially
my fellow creative types.

I came to a certain truth a few years ago. I’ve touched on it in previous
blog entries. That truth was, that we sometimes emotionally cripple
ourselves because we think that’s what life demands of us. It’s even more
of a truth when it comes to doing something creative that we love. And
even if we do wind up making the conscious choice to do something
creative to bring light to the world, we will encounter others who are doing
the same but still holding onto certain patterns and behaviors that are
emotionally crippling. Things that can basically mess with you, even if
you have shielded yourself. I don’t care who you are: no one is totally
immune to the surreptitious impact of emotionally crippling behavior.
And when you’re someone on a creative journey, it becomes even more
apparent. And you may feel the effects more strongly than others, more
because you may not be doing the work to repair your own self-inflicted
wounds and you’re now suffering wounds and slights from others.

So what do I mean by creating while emotionally crippled?

For me, I’ve been writing since I was younger. When I made the decision
to go after making writing a career a few years ago, I knew the risks that
would be present. I had to confront a lot of things over the course of that
time. I had to admit that I was damaging myself, crippling myself in an
emotional way because I didn’t like sudden and dramatic change. I had to
admit I was bowing to timidity set within me from when I was small. I had
to admit that I let the stress of working at a job where certain people
either disliked me for certain reasons, or flat out devalued me, get to me.
I had to confess that I allowed the small-minded and one-dimensional
folks who offered opinions ranging from the sarcastic to the indifferent
get to me. All of that shit weighs you down more than you realize, like the
way your abdomen feels after a meal where you pushed your luck a little
too much on the side of rice. It eats at you. So you confront it. You work
on it, and in the process, you find yourself more free to create. More free
to express that inner voice.

In that state, I find myself feeling like no one gives a damn about me or
my writing. I ask myself what it’s all for. I find myself getting pissed
and then withdrawing from the world. I wind up worrying people because
of it. I wind up looking like an asshole because I have to step back in
order to deal with all the emotions instead of stuffing them down within
me like dirty clothes in a hamper straining at its seams. Then, I breathe.
I start the unraveling. Identifying the triggers. Then working through it.
I realize that this is the process I need to stick to, in order to live and
create in a healthy way. I remember having a conversation with an elder
head once, and he said one thing that stuck with me: “artists, no matter
what, have to create. if we get cut up, we take those scars and make them
art. we get broken, we build something out of it so others can flock to it.”

I know that there’s one or two people who may read this and feel a way.
I’ve had a couple of talks with people who I’ve had to be real with in terms
of how they view me and treat me. I’m not so naive to think that there
won’t be more talks needed with others. I’m also not so naive to think
that there are some who’ll even care where I’m coming from. But, they’ve
saved me the trouble of kicking them the hell out of the cipher. Sometimes
the trash does take itself out. But you have to be mindful enough to tell the
difference.

The sun is beaming in as I head into the home stretch, so I’ll close with this.
Creating while emotionally crippled is not something that should be aspired
to. I don’t know anyone who thinks it’s cool to “suffer for their art.”
And as someone who’s a Black male writer, even more so when it comes to
other artistic creators of color. But there are those of us who do it, and do it
so well that you won’t realize it. I say to you, if you know someone like that
or suspect that they’re there and will front for the ‘Gram or anywhere else –
be supportive. Even if it’s a random hello. Even if you just share how their
work impacted yours every once in a while. Because art is healing, and while
healing hurts, it doesn’t have to continue to be painful.

As always, walk good.