I’ve been avoiding social media lately. I think it’s because I’m traumatized, tired and on the edge. Most of my friends and associates are activists, creatives, scholars, educators, writers, healers, lovers, and don’t-take-no-shitters. Overall, they are beautifully urbane people. Therefore, I am inundated with information – news highlights, the latest political, racial, gender-based or academic struggles, demoralizing data about how things haven’t changed for the better or have gotten worse, yet another senseless murder, and other mind-numbing topics. And it’s overwhelming me. For real. I am emotionally, psychically/spiritually, and intellectually drained. I’m at a precipice, a tipping point and I’m afraid of falling into an abyss of eternal rage, despair, hopelessness, ennui, and cynicism. That’s not my nature. Though clearly a therd (a thug nerd), I much prefer to reside in the goofy, gregarious, whimsical Pharrell-land of happy. I like to sit under weeping willows and blow dandelions while making excitable wishes. I enjoy digging my toes in the sand while the waves lap over my lower extremities as I hum Big Sean’s “Blessings.” I love hanging with friends and family and laughing my head off, and thinking that we should all get paid for our comedic genius. I prefer to be proud of the country I live in while claiming that there is no other place I’d rather be (except Bali).
However, that’s just not how the current state of America (and the world) makes me feel right now. I mourn for us. I really do. I’m ashamed about how we treat each other. I’m mortified by the ignorance of so many (which is why it persists). My spirit is low, y’all. Really low. I want to feel less stressed about the consistent intraracial and external attacks on black and brown and female and LGBTQ and poor and non-Christian bodies. I want it all to stop. Or at least, I want to be able to tune out long enough to preserve the self, myself. However, it’s hard because I see where mass ignorance and ignoring the issues have gotten us. Here. And it’s egregious. That’s why the me that I know is waning (though I hope it’s temporary).
My favorite English word has been temperance. For me, that word is about restraint, striking a balance, and existing in moderation. It’s some Kipling shit about loving all men but none too much. It’s some ancient Buddhist wisdom about seeing yourself in all that is and not getting too attached to any of it. It’s understanding the delicate balance between the spirit of Shango and Yemaya, carrying both in my womb, not allowing one to cancel the other out.
These days, there’s more of the relentless warrior in me. On fire. Ablaze with fury and embattled. Unintentionally, I’ve imbibed the despondency that surrounds me, the taste rancid in my throat. All I see is destruction, malice and death. All I hear is sadness. The names. The many, many names – day in and out – who have been killed. The death is killing me. The inequality is killing me. The hate is killing me.
Instead, I want to write about happy things. I want to repost happy things. Jokes. Cute kittens. The successes of others. People dancing their butts off. Silly memes. But I’ve lost the balance. I’m so entrenched in the misery that I don’t want to look at my own blog or FB page. It reflects what I see and hear, what I feel and where I am – and I deplore how it looks and worse, how it feels to be so hyper aware of all of the drudgery and fuckery of life. I hate my role as documentarian, as speaker of truth, as witness. I want to be free to be frivolous. Instead, I feel like a nikki giovanni poem.
For Saundra i wanted to write/ a poem/ that rhymes/ but revolution doesn’t lend itself/ to be-bopping/ then my neighbor/ who thinks i hate/ asked – do you ever write/ tree poems – i like trees/ so i thought/ i’ll write a beautiful green tree poem/ peeked from my window/ to check the image/ noticed that the school yard was covered/ with asphalt/ no green – no trees grow/ in manhattan/ then, well, i thought the sky/ i’ll do a big blue sky poem/ but all the clouds have winged/ low since no-Dick was elected/ so i thought again/ and it occurred to me/ maybe i shouldn’t write/ at all/ but clean my gun/ and check my kerosene supply/ perhaps these are not poetic/ times/ at all
Sweet sage nikki, I don’t want this current reality. As Gangstarr asks, “Who’s going to handle the whole weight?” Not me. I can’t do it. I can’t take on the world. I can’t give my all to something that doesn’t give any goodness back. I’m a revolutionary of love, nikki. But I don’t know if that’s enough anymore. All I know is that the weight is heavy in my heart, heavier than it’s ever been. Like one of George C. Wolfe’s characters said in “Symbiosis,” “It’s much too much. I must be able to smile on cue. And watch the news with an impersonal eye. I have no stake in the madness. Being black is too emotionally taxing; I will be black only on weekends and holidays.” It’s sad that something meant to get a laugh rings so true – then and now. Being black is emotionally taxing. Or better yet, the response to blackness, to otherness, is emotionally taxing and I’m choosing to bow out. No, I’m not pulling a Rachel and leaving my race (or my gender), but I am choosing temperance while being unapologetically black and female.
I have to pull back, plug out or retune and realize that this is a new day, but it’s the same shit. None of it is new. Humans have been destroying other humans since the beginning of time. Different context, same malaise. Humans have also been helping and loving each other since the beginning. Different context, same hearts. I can’t get caught in this either-or fallacy. I have to find the AND. And as there is hate, there is love. And as there is death, there is life. And as there is ignorance, there is brilliance. I won’t be ignorant to the issues and the daily horrors and I will continue to fight various oppressions, but I will try harder not to allow them to control my emotions, my tongue, and my spirit because that is a very dangerous place to be. And it’s counter to everything I claim to be about and everything I want for this precious life and world. Yes, I’m angry, but I still have love, hope and joy through the pain. And God willing, I will live to see brighter, more enlightened days for humanity. Ashe.
Plugged, but only so much, Tina