Soul Vitamins

WHY COURAGE IS WHAT WE NEED

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I’ve been explaining myself a lot lately, trying to get people to understand and see my point, trying to make them see why I made the choices I made on different issues and why I’m on the path I’m currently on, and that I mean no harm…it’s exhausting, and highly unnecessary – I know that. However, the fact that I felt the need to go into all that process of explanation speaks to a part of me that I obviously haven’t grown out of. Thandie Newton said in her TEDtalk: Embracing Otherness, Embracing Myself, that the self likes to fit, to see itself replicated, to belong, because that confirms its existence and its importance. With a growing sense of otherness, I come back to the question of what is important and what isn’t.

At times like this, I know that a new me is about to emerge, that change and growth are calling my name even though I would like to hold on to this person a little longer. “Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where yourself came from, and where you will go. The things we want are transformative, and we don’t know or think  we know what is on the other side of that transformation. Love, wisdom, grace, inspiration – how do you go about finding these things that are in some ways about extending the boundaries of the self into unknown territory, about becoming someone else?”

Thankfully I know that the measure of a life has to do with how well we are able to adapt in this borrowed, imperfect existence and how much beauty we can create with however little control we have over the design of our collective existence. It is obvious that many of the things that seem to afflict us as human beings are in fact a result of larger elements of stigma and exclusion, which can and should be resisted. What then matters at the end? I believe what matters is kindness, compassion, empathy, solidarity. What matters is staying alert and open to all that is unknown and uncertain, and learning to make magic out of rubbles.

We think our pain and heartbreak are unparalleled in the world, but then we read and we quickly discover that the things that hurt the most are also the things that connected us with a lot of people, people who were and are currently alive. Only when we face these open wounds can we understand them in other people. I think the crime that we are guilty of is not so much that we’re aware of the problem, but that other people can see that we are and we’re bearing witness to something that everybody knows but nobody wants to talk about. Just like every other writer, most of what we write leaves us open, I suppose, to a great amount of misunderstanding; never mind those who intentionally choose to misunderstand and misrepresent our intentions. Nevertheless, I believe that as human beings, nobody has the right to stand in judgement of the world because we are all, in some way, responsible for how things have turned out. We can only demand of other people because  we demand the same of ourselves; and with each new day all we can do is try to consciously live in a way that makes the world better. What then do we need?…. Courage.

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