For the last eight months, I've been planning. Getting the nest ready. Reading up (as I do). Largely excited with a tiny bit of natural anxiety mixed in. Friends and colleagues (and of course the daily strangers) have remarked about how well I am doing. How happy I seem. I am.
I wonder what the cultural relevance of this statement is in 2014.
I can recall seeing it on many a soaked-through tee shirt at the gym. It's a mantra. "No pain no gain" is a philosophy to be proud of when physically pushing yourself. If you're not sweating and sore and in pain, then you're not really doin' it.
In the past couple of years, I have noticed a certain complacency that I never noticed before, in my eleven years of leading Swirl. The same passion and the same excitement around building multiracial communities had faded a bit. In the one year leading up to the Presidential election, we launched five new chapters (the norm had been a chapter every year or every other year). People were excited by the energy created by Obama's campaign, and they were motivated and eager to be a part of creating supportive and inclusive multiracial communities.
How often do we truly feel seen by others? A part of a community that will hold us in the good times and the bad? I have been reflecting on how rare that feeling has been for me - of true love and acceptance from a community.
I wrote this poem during the One City One Prompt event coordinated with Swirl and the Creative Righting Center on September 18, 2011.
The streets of New York City become more smoothly choreographed. We don't bump or push or get into quarrels because of such small infractions worsened by ego. We glide past one another, light breezes, punctuated by easy smiles.
In my years of diversity work, I am pretty sure about one thing. The people who are "good" at talking about race issues are those who have practiced.
As a participant in discussions about race, I have heard certain white individuals (not all) lament, "I just don't know how to talk about this stuff." And then I have heard some people of color (not all) in turn, say, "I am tired of talking about this stuff every day."
At the present time, I cannot do a headstand in my yoga practice.Whenever I remove bobby pin and ponytail holder and place the top of my head on the smooth wooden floor of the dimly lit classroom, forearms bracing, it feels like the weight of my body will surely accordion my neck like a used up coke can, causing my head to also combust. I'm pretty sure this will happen. I try to do the pose, but can't seem to achieve it. And so, I have heard many an exasperated teachers' sighs.