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Mary Mariah

Understanding Empowerment from a Lived Experience

The Racial Elite

How is it that the people who have everything want more 

And the people who have nothing are litigated for wanting anything?

That passion and desire are shiny entitlements of the haves 

And shame and defeat are residual rewards of the have nots

Celebrated for having everything

Blamed for having nothing

Meritocracy 

The culprit

Exploitation 

The currency

 Supremacy 

The end game

How is it that the people who have everything want more…

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The Righteous 

Jesus gave up everything 

Just so you can give up nothing 

And act like something 

When you have not really done anything.

****

But off to church you go.

 

The Social Dilemma 

I am an INTJ and for those that already know what this is, you may be wondering about the irony of my putting social and dilemma together in the title. INTJs aren’t seen as social so what could possibly be the dilemma in not doing it?

INTJ stands for introverted, intuitive, thinking, and judging. It is one of the 16 personality types based on the Meyers Briggs typology system (which is heavily based on the psychologist Carl Jung’s work). As a specific personality type,  INTJs are typically referred to as scientists and strategists but my favorite descriptor is the mastermind. We live in a world of ideas and strategy and we have a deep desire to create sustainable solutions. For those of you who understand multiple intelligences, INTJs typically relish in the analytical, existential and linguistic intelligences…in themselves and in others. We play the long game in our pursuit of vision and are considered to be naturally strong leaders (although many of us prefer to not take on leadership positions). In short, we are smart, independent, strategic, creative, determined.

Most of what I described in the previous paragraph is who we are when we are living our lives from the front seat. The front seat (in a four-seat passenger car model) is how many typologists describe the part of the personality that is experienced the most…the 90%. And because it is used the most, we experience a greater level of proficiency with it as well as having a higher skill-set with the competencies in which it is associated. It is what defines our flow state or as a good friend of mine says it,  it is when we are in our shit.

We live in a world of ideas and strategy and we have a deep desire to create sustainable solutions. 

Now, there are definite areas of growth for the mastermind. And frankly, I dare call them down right weaknesses, especially for the immature (or underdeveloped) INTJ not yet aware or convinced of the need for growth. Most of these weaknesses can be attributed to those two passengers in the back seat. For the INTJ, this is where our feelings come into play as well as our connection to the present-day, in the moment, sensations we experience in the external world.

This, our backseat weaknesses, is where the dilemma resides for me as an INTJ, and (as I will later come back to return to the front seat) it is where the irony of wanting to be social presents itself.

What I haven’t discussed yet are the cognitive functions within Meyers Briggs in part because it is here that I lose my mind. As a systems person, I find the systematic treatment of personality as cognitive functions in the Meyers Briggs framework simply delicious. The more of it I consume, the more of it I crave. These functions are what I referenced earlier as passengers, giving nuance and scope to the four letter code of the personality. 

It should go without saying that the four letter code for the INTJ is I (for introversion), N (for intuition), T (for thinking) and J (for judging). For the INTJ, the J (judging) at the end means we present ourselves to the world as actors actively doing (whereas P for perceiving means others present themselves as actors actively  knowing). However, the N in my four letter code dictates that my default is to take in, to perceive–to know– and then to make meaning out of patterns that emerge from knowing. So while the T (thinking) in my four letter code works in partnership with my J, making thinking the preferred way I like to show up in the world, I’m secretly a knower. This secret preference for perceiving,  over my outward drive for doing, is at the heart of the dilemma but I’ll circle back to that later.

“(Cognitive) functions are what I referenced earlier as passengers, giving nuance and scope to the four letter code of the personality”

Being secretly a knower is not the only way that I’m closeted. I’m also a closeted feeler. Like my intuition, my feelings are directed inward and not part of my public presentation. Unlike my intuition, my feelings are in the backseat. This backseat position, along with extroverted sensing (being intensly aware and connected to all data floating around in the external world), means that they aren’t central to my personality. My inward feelings are part of the 10% which means that I have not been all that proficient with them. 

I say have not to intentionality indicate my past. As celebrated on my most recent birthday (discussed here), I have been growing and maturing in those back seat passengers increasing my effectiveness in using my feelings (when I choose to do so) and acting responsibly with the data (and sensations) around me. 

But. And yes, there is a but. An unexpected outcome of this growth is a desire to be more social. I cringe a little as I type this. First, like I offered at the start, INTJs, like many introverts, don’t really have a high appetite for social. And second, it’s possible that I’m actually not desiring more… as in more social that is. I’m wondering if I simply want refinement in how I socialize. 

As I’ve become aware of my introverted feelings (my values, morals and ethics), I’ve grown away from the social life I once had. This has created more isolation and solitude than even my introverted self can handle. As humans,  we are social beings so having no social contact is a challenge…even for an introvert. So, in saying all of that, my bottom line is to say that I’ve been on a mission to restore my social life…albeit this time with people who share similar or complimentary values. 

So now that I have decided to intentionally grow community, I am facing my shortcomings as an INTJ. Before, when I was clueless about my personality type, in terms of my needs in the social world, I connected to friends and lovers simply as a doer. Remember,  as a J, I connect to the world as a doer (and not as the knower I am inwardly). 

As an INTJ (with my knowing and doing), my appetite for people beyond work is short lived.

“As humans,  we are social beings so having no social contact is a challenge…even for an introvert.”

You see, as an Ni, my true appetite is geared for ideas, concepts and knowing. This is where my interest in people begins and as much as I don’t want to admit, it is where it ends. Don’t get me wrong. I love people. I like the idea of them. And, I love how they experience and express their humanity. I just don’t have a high need to experience and express my humanity with them purely on the basis of their experience and expression. 

Truthfully, and it’s important that I clarify this last statement, I don’t enjoy my humanity simply because I am human. I enjoy it because of the ideas I can carry out and the possibilities I can explore (the doing). So when other humans are content on being human alone, void of possibilities, I’m disinterested. I champion their right to be human void of possibilities… I fight for it in fact. But in terms of my motivation to live out the human experience, my passion resides in those experiences with other humans who are principled and pursuant of possibilities. 

This is my attraction to be with others beyond serving, beyond studying, and/or beyond directing. My desire to be with is a desire to journey together and explore the ethos. Me learning with them. Them learning with me. Everything else is boring. 

This limited attraction is my butt ugly honesty. And I will be the first to say that it goes two ways. For many not chasing an idea but resting in what it means to just be, I bore them as well. 

I tried just being. In fact, I’ve written about it (here and here).  But I have never been able to take up residence in the just being camp. I have too much doing to do. My Te wiring for the world won’t allow me to just sit in it.  So the being people are appealing to me but I don’t have much to offer them in return. I cannot perform being with out pursuit –even though I fantasize about it and talk about it as though it were the case.

“My desire to be with is a desire to journey together and explore the ethos. Me learning with them. Them learning with me. Everything else is boring.”

So unlike other INTJs I know,  I do crave social (a certain amount of it) but I need it in tandem with learning… in doing what isn’t yet understood as possible…not being what already is… but being what is yet to be. 

That’s my dilemma. Finding them and positioning myself so they can find me.  

Most people in my world are pursuing a vision prescribed by an externally established authority…their employer, their church, their peers (wow–this point truthfully deserves its own essay!!). But, being a pursuant of one’s internal ideas is an individual endeavor. One often traveled alone.  Not sure how much social is in that. 

But it’s what I desire (in part). So we’ll just see. The social dilemma. Can it be resolved?

Church

churchEverybody needs a church. A building with a preacher or a lakefront with a rising sun.  A car on an open highway… music up– windows down.  A piece of paper –ink, heart and words.

Everybody needs a church. To lay naked in truth and rest firmly in comfort. To ask questions not yet known and respond to answers not yet provided.

Everybody needs a church. To smile at ugly, frown at beauty and bitch stare everything else in between.  To push out and pull in and sit still when nothing is everything and something is anything else.

Everybody needs a church. To hear wisdom more prophetic than prophecy and see wonder more mystical than mysticism. To move beyond the physical and know that we are not alone.  And even if we are, to inevitably feel that we are not.

Everybody needs a church.  To access the Divine within and to know that we are more than what is. To speak, love, and suffer in spirit. To laugh, delight and play  in the human experience.

Everybody needs a church.

 

Happy New Year

… in six increments of 10.

Happy New Year 2019
Photo Credit:  leigHendry

11 pm 

In one hour, 2018 will be no more and I will walk into the tomorrow for which I have coveted. This is the most important time.  For me. It is my favorite.

As a reflective thinker, one who imagines, explores and reconsiders, I end every year in a personal reflection.  I think about what I learned and what I accomplished and I make a commitment to be a version of myself that has yet to be.

Today, I have decided to do it differently.  To do it in a way that represents the lessons of the year and my commitment to change it up.  I am sharing this practice out loud.  To honor all of the inside me that I shared with the outside world… to solidify all the me that the outside does not need to access.

In real time.

11:10 pm 

Today was a good day. The best in fact. Spent the entire afternoon jumping around.

Literally jumping.

Went with my sister and nieces to some indoor playground.  Where the entire floor is a trampoline.  Obstacles, games, and challenges.  All in steady moments of groundlessness.  Dodgeball. Backflips. Some game where you have to hit all the lights as they turn green… while being suspended in the air.  We were a family carefree, souring into higher heights.

What a good way to celebrate the end of the year.  Together with family.  My sister and I from one generation. Bonding and playing with my nieces of the next.

I am so proud of my sister.  In all of the losses of the past 18 months, she effortlessly makes a way for my nieces to know family. To belong. To know that they do not need to seek for something that already is.

That when they go out into the world to find and start their families, they will do nothing but level up.  They will not be looking for that which was absent. Being the perfect ground for an impostor.  To come along and offer empty promises.  To take their open hearts as a canvas for a mental fuckfest.  No. They will know a love within. Making love be about nothing but forward motion.

This is what my sister has done. She has set the standard of true love and growth.  Souring high in the air like our afternoon of play.  A metaphor for them to live and remember.  Nothing keeps you bound.  The sky is the limit. And if you return, you return only to love.

11:20pm

Woke up today and called a good friend. She called me last night as I was heading out.  A night on the town. Making my way to the stage. To sing a little bit of country.  In my black body with a whole lot of soul.  Nashville. The perfect place to be.  Where country and soul comes together.  And last night, I left my mark.

When she called, I was parking my car. My new friend in my review mirror.  Waiting to walk with me into a night of something more.  Not just singing but a night of exploring. That is what new friends do.  We share some of our secrets. Testing the waters.  Seeing what we have in common.  Seeing what answers we can access… to questions we did not know we had.

My new friend and I are both karaoke junkies.  Hitting the stage one at a time.  I never had so many high fives.  Me singing about a gun and a man that did not know his place. A lady told me that I took Miranda Lambert to church.

My new friend asked me a question.  What are you afraid of?  Me that prides myself on being fearless. She challenges me that being brave is being able to admit the fear. What would happen if I showed up in the world as fully me? And in all of the writing that I did this year, 64 pieces in fact, I still did not know what that meant.  To be fully me.

This was the question I shared with my good friend.  When I called her back this morning because I could not really speak to her last night.

    We both sat with the question… what does it mean to be fully me.  And what exactly are we afraid of?

    11:30

    I listened to a stream of messages from other intuitives.  A semi-offline group I created.  In my quest to be more of the me that I have kept hidden.  It is where we talk and share our insights.  One installment at a time.

    Heard about books, about plans for growth, about difficult messages. About missed opportunities to be understood.  This thing called intuition. Where you see. You connect. You know.  And others don’t yet understand.  Until the future becomes the past and then they realize. What you were trying to say to them but couldn’t. They thank you and ask for more. But without the eyes of a seer, their ears cannot hear.  Until it is too late.

    11:40

    My intuition tells me that I am on to something.  All this work I have been doing on the inside me.  And although this year ends… rendering me almost silent… all these lessons I am sharing with others in a community that is not real… those existing in social media…in imagined- truncated versions of the self… I keep writing… because the messages keep coming.  And I believe 2019 will tell me who they are for.

    11:50 pm

    This year, I found my happy.  Because I let go of my numbing.  Distractions that keep one from feeling.  So I learned how to feel.  But I first had to learn how to cry. It’s on the same axes as laughter.   Opened up a cavity that I did not know existed.  Love.  Was hijacked by a 10 year circus. Because of a lifetime of distortions.  So I gave up my funny. Wasn’t really mine in the first place.  In the real mirror there is…seeing… feeling… laughing… crying. Being.

    This year, I found my happy.  And next year, I will find my me.

    12:00am

    Happy New Year!!!

    Social Change Agents as Instruments of Evolution 

    Earlier in the year, I woke up thinking about the heightened level of loss that I’ve had in my personal space. As a functionalist theorist, I would be driven to believe that the conflict is the result of me moving outside of the established institutions and systems of my social environment. As a conflict theorist, I would be driven to believe the conflict is the result of a competition of resources — of space, time, and/or power. One theory problematizes me for threatening order (functionalism) and the other problematizes the environment for its inability expand the sphere of power (conflict).

    To be clear, both theories describe the event as order (functionalism) and competition (conflict). To problematize me as a threat to order (functionalism) draws attention to the disruption I present to the distribution of resources in which the order is founded (competition). To problematize the environment as competition of resources (conflict) draws attention to an event that disrupts a preferred order for tradition (functionalism). But in the utility of sociology, the interpersonal conflict I’ve experienced in the last year is situated in one or the other. It is functionalism or or it is conflict. It cannot be both. 

    Before I could make sense of the interpersonal conflict I was experiencing, I first needed to explain the conflict that I had experienced in previous years. 

    In 2007, I started undergoing a major revolution in my worldview and then eventually my identity.  From a change in how I valued my work (versus my personal life) to an awakening in how I understood interpersonal power as policed and protected by institutional racism, sexism, classism and heteronormativity, I no longer saw myself and others in the way I had been raised and in the way I had blindly reproduced. So, as I started to shift in my worldview– which really was a freeing of and a release of the worldview that had been repressed within, the world around me, even the one in which I  created, started to crumble. 

    And that crumbling meant a lost in friendships. And for the most part, I was ok with the loss. Frankly, it was easier for me to say goodbye to them than to say goodbye to personal values that I was finally able to embrace.   So after putting forth due diligence to negotiate the new me within existing (old) paradigms, I realized what I learned long ago in my pentecostal church days… you cannot put new wine in old wine skin. A non-biblical treatment of this realization is simply this… oil and water don’tmix. 

    My friends and I no longer had a shared language, shared values and a shared way of seeing the social world. I didn’t begrudge them for this gap. They didn’t flip the script. I did. And during this time of transitioning, before we finally decided to split ways, I repeatedly heard that I was acting different. I was no longer the person they had always known. And they were correct…in part. I wasn’t the person I had always presented myself to be. And they had every right to feel confused and even hurt/abandoned. Unfortunately, they were unwilling to make peace with this “new” me and I was definitely unwilling to be tied to a social order that I ethically and morally could not embrace. So we said goodbye. 

    But in the past year, there has been a different kind of loss stemming from a different kind of conflict.  On the surface, I should put this too in the oil-water container. You see, these other relationships were also born from the pre-awakened me. They represented the values and views of my old life. But, there was a deeper connection (or so I wanted to believe) that made us work harder to bridge the gap between our differences. Yet instead of building a sense of sharedness (language, values and a world view), we worked to build tolerance. But tolerance isn’t connectedness and therefore, it can only go so far.  It cannot withstand competing knowledge, desires and perceptions. 

    So it didn’t.  And then there was fizzle. Definitely more significant than the earlier losses because I had a different commitment to them. And because of that different commitment, I worked my ass off trying to save these relationships. But my red cape wasn’t that powerful. As a result, there were three goodbyes within the season of grieving the death of my grandmother that made for self discovery that’s better than all three of my degrees combined.

    So I have been thinking about intolerance, in the space of loving. Is it an intolerance of an individual not upholding the social order? Or is it an intolerance of an individual occupying more resources. These are the questions that surface as I think about the loss of core friendships, even the loss of those that weren’t so core. And as is typical of me when I am faced with difficult questions, I resort to my sociological default. A functionalist perspective would say that the friendship breakdown was the result of tradition (their fidelity as well as my infidelity to it). Yet, the conflict perspective would argue that it wasn’t about a fidelity (or not) to tradition but more of a condition of resource scarcity. In terms of power, visibility, access and agency, my awakening no longer situated my old friends in my world and it definitely didn’t situate me in theirs. 

    This moving on, whether understood through a functionalist or a conflict persective, has me thinking about evolution and our species as social beings. Based on Charles Darwin’s natural selection, organisms not possessing traits necessary for successfully living in its changing environment die, ensuring the existence of reproduction of organisms more suitable (and adaptable) for the new . As the environment changes (due to the historical condition of changing natural forces), organisms on earth have had to adapt or die off. 

    One can see the death of those friendships as my inability or unwillingness to conform to the social environment. However, in that those relationships were grounded in traditionalism, I’m inclined to think that the death of those relationships were the result of my wiring for the new. 

    This adaption or the consideration of it leads me to consider the theory of social change. In short, social change is universal, collective and inevitable. It can be both linear and cyclical, slow and fast, predictable and unpredictable.  While some of what I’ve listed is way more complicated (and even contradictory) than it appears, what is simple is that social change is. Meaning…it is a thing. 

    With that being said, those of us in the social world living for the new must be willing to embrace loss and friction as a byproduct of evolution and social change. We by design cannot conform. We give birth to the new–forcing those around us to come along or fall off by the wayside. 

    Functionalist theory argues that being change agents disrupts fidelity to social institutions which by their nature (role in the social world) are designed to stay the same. Conflict theory says change agents threaten the social order of resource distribution, creating  dissonance over how we have socially determined access and worth. How we tolerate either, infidelity and conflict, tells us, in my opinion, how ready we are for the inevitable.  

    The universal condition of social change happens with or without permission. It dictates a change in the social contracts that define the unspoken nature of friendships as well as identity and worth. As social change agents, we are a natural force, based on our wiring to exist, spiritually, professionally and socially, for the new and to usher in the change. 

    I will forever love my old friends. So much of me today is because they were part of my path. But what this season of loss has taught me, if nothing else, is that I am an instrument of change. I cannot, by my nature, give fidelity to old institutions nor apologize for taking up space and accessing highly contested resources deemed worthy only for those who comply with the old. I am nature’s instrument of change…in partnership with other change agents commissioned to move us forward. You gotta come along or fall of by the wayside because a change is gon’ come.  

    It is inevitable. 

     

    Father

     

    I lost my stepfather at the beginning of summer.  I was unable to attend the funeral. I wrote the following poem and my eldest niece read it in my absence.  I am sharing it here because I am thinking about him and want the world to know the gift he gave to our family.

    ****

    Father

    A man in relation to his children.

    Biologically or legally

    That’s what the internet says

    Yet, you were neither;

    But nonetheless you were

    Dad for my sister

    Papa for me nieces

    A reliable presence for us all.

    **

    I’m struck by that fact

    That you took on a role

    With no biological or legal obligation

    A moral commitment born within the soul

    **

    How do you put into words 

    A relationship that has no prescription or social expectation

    No model, no standard, no example

    Yet there you were

    Being what we needed

    **

    The simple things

    Never realizing what was missing

    Until you showed up

    Repeatedly

    Insisting that we be loved

    **

    It’s a funny thing

    Your unapologetic approach to father

    You worried about us

    You wondered about us

    You took time to inquire about us

    Showing us your vulnerability

    You sometimes pulled back the curtain

    To share your pain, secrets and tears

    Being fully human

    You gave us an earthly presence of a heavenly dad

    And me, being numbed by the absence of the other,

    I often would sit back in wonder.

    **

    See this was the uniqueness of your love

    Unrequired and unobligated  

    A selfless act of giving

    Through a selfless act of being

    To be what you didn’t have to be

    To do what you didn’t have to do

    Without biological or legal justification

    You were

    Awe-full

    And God-full

    Not just dad or papa

    You were

    Unabashed and unrepentant

    You were.

    ***

    Father

    You will so deeply be missed.

    I love you.

    2014-06-15 10.35.19

    Critical Race Feminism and Being Unapologetic 

    Last year, I formally adopted three new identities because I found the identity of being a black woman, or saying that I am a black woman, unable to capture who I am at the core of my being. In the absence of my body, I’ve been searching for the me that is most essential.

    Clarification. I was not seeking a way to disconnect myself from blackness as though it would somehow situate me closer to whiteness. Instead, I wanted to be not raced. Raced as in the sociopolitical impact of people who look like me that somehow determines or assumes our sense of self, ways of being, habits of mind. And for many reading this, I’m sure you’re all like, “Of course it doesn’t.” But that’s what being raced is about. It obscures the uniqueness of us as individuals inside a collective landscape of trying to be human. Of trying to demand the world to see its racist’s (and sexist’s) ways and to trying to institute equity and justice.

    But inside of this collective fight is an unspoken, expected sense of self, ways of being, habits of mind that offer a feeling of belongingness when I comply; yet offers a feeling of isolation when I don’t. So I’ve been trying to get people to give voice to the unspoken so that I in return can better understand my successes and failures of being a part of this collective.

    And while I’ve been doing this work of trying to do a better job of being a part of the collective, I have also, at the same time, been trying to remember, hold onto, or hell, even possibly acquaint myself to the me that I am when I’m not trying so hard to do the collective work.

    So naming myself as a critical race feminist is one of the ways that I have been trying to carve out the me from within the we.  As I wrote in an earlier reflection, this identity makes room for my uniqueness while simultaneously keeping me,  both externally and internally, plugged into my sociopolitical past.

    “That’s what being raced is about. It obscures the uniqueness of us as individuals inside a collective landscape of trying to be human.”

    Part of owning the me that’s me, and not letting it get buried in the me that’s us, means being unapologetic in my sense of self, ways of being, and habits of mind. That means that I hold myself accountable when I feel the social pressure to perform the we.
    And this is what happened last week which is what this reflection was supposed to be about but it seems as though I had some other things to say first.

    I was sitting at my favorite local dive (a place that had become my new granny’s house after her passing) and a guy, a new patron, strikes up a conversation… a second one. The first one was where he talked about being a night shift nurse in an urban area. Being sure to qualify it as the hood, he insisted on making anyone in earshot understand that being in the hood meant having to deal with a lot of flagrants. I bristled when he said it because that hospital where he works is a place that I’ve frequently visited…being a place of both play and work. I started thinking about friends, family members, students and staff that undoubtedly made their way into that hospital when in need and wondering about the quality of their care to be served by jackasses like him.

    So when, in the second time around, he made another pejorative statement, this time about “pussy,” I decided I wasn’t going to play the part he obviously assumed I was to play. In defense of the female body part that gets used as an insult by uncritical people  (i.e.those that are racist, sexist, homophobes, etc ), I asked him why didn’t he call the person he was trying to insult a dick? He rolled his eyes, rightfully guessing that I am and was showing up as a feminist even though I was the only woman (and the only black person) at the bar.

    He tried to dismiss my reaction to his use of the word as being an emotional response, arguing that I didn’t understand it as just an expression. My counter argument was that he didn’t understand the power of words in effectively communicating a message and my challenge to him wasn’t emotional… it was intellectual.

    And then I went on…

    The dick penetrates. It is intrusive, unyielding, all consuming (well, for those that are lucky). And the pussy by contrast is warm and welcoming.  The dick shoots off. The pussy nurtures.

    As a word needed to express one as inconsiderate, self absorbed, and ignorant of the needs of others, I think dick to be more fitting.

    Needless to say that he didn’t want to think critically about his words. Instead, he wanted to talk about his emotions and make those around him have to make peace with the emotional mess that he insisted on leaving behind.

    “Part of owning the me that’s me, and not letting it get buried in the me that’s us, means being unapologetic in my sense of self, ways of being, and habits of mind. That means that I hold myself accountable when I feel the social pressure to perform the we.

    If it needs to be said, my bar friend left in a huff (better him than me) and I sat there feeling quite pleased.

    That’s the thing about the newly identified me. I for the first time can honestly claim to be unapologetic. Unlike before, when I was putting someone else’s preferred identity as my preferred identity, I had no idea what it meant. You can’t be unapologetic when you don’t know how to just be.

    My unabashed identity, based off of three nifty labels, give me the words of me. Words as representations of me. And in return, I get a chance to see myself in full panoramic view.

    As a critical race feminist, I am not only a black woman. I am a critical black woman committed to disrupting unequal distributions of power among large structures like schooling, church and even family. But, I am also committed to disrupting the power inequities in smaller structures like language, words and interpersonal interactions in small hole in the wall pubs.

    Now don’t get me wrong. The newly defined unapologetic me comes with tall consequences. Born into a world that’s hates racism but promotes it, that professes to honor women but objectifies and controls them instead, that wants to be a god as in power-over, but not like God as in power-with… all making the critical me a threat to their preferred way of being.  In terms of group dynamics and the power of homeostasis,  the inherent pursuit to resist (and punish) change, there is no way to move in and about the world without bumping into structures (big or small) intended to maintain unequal distributions of power.

    You can’t be unapologetic when you don’t know how to just be.”

     

    But in the end, I’m learning that it is better to be bruised from an external  fight than an internal one.  I can turn off the world. I cannot turn off me. All I can do is be more of the thing that I respect and let the world get up and storm out as they may.

    So, being a critical race feminist, I’m going to be disruptive in places of unequal power whether it is among men or women, blacks or whites, or any other social construct that has a presumed, yet unspoken, way of being.

    I’mma do me and let the world storm out.

    Ego, Suffering, Happiness, and Transcendence 

    Interestingly, most of my pieces published on my personal blog this year have  been about suffering (even with my resolution to be happy). 

    Now to be fair, I have been able to write in a way that gives utility to the suffering for some greater gain or good. But truthfully, I haven’t written one piece this year that does not talk about me in some form of pain or discomfort. And while I knew that the pain-talk was tied to my happiness, I had no idea of how or why. 

    So I kept writing and revealing (when my higher self of truth outweighed my lower self of fear), believing, even if I could not intelligently explain, that I was actually writing in my happiness…in route to something greater than happy.  

    These are words I wrote back in March of this year. You see, I had ended last year with a resolve to be happy. With the passing of my grandmother and the simultaneous end to a 10-year partnership, 2017 was quite dark. So in December, I found myself looking forward to light and new opportunities and giving myself permission to be happy. So three months into the new year, I found myself assessing my resolution and progress toward that end. 

    As I am now ten months into the new year, prepping to walk into a new- New Year, I have been able to reap the rewards of my happiness resolution; however, I realized I had to confront my suffering in order to get here. In other words, to be happy I had to be ok with suffering… to lean into it instead of trying to numb or escape it. 

    Today’s piece is actually what I wrote back in March as I was learning more about happiness. It’s a reflection that is ultimately about transcendence but as you will see, I disover that suffering and happiness must first be understood in order to  transcend.

    [Please keep in mind that when you read the word “today,” do not think today as in October. Instead, think today as in March.]

    ****

    I’ve been listening to a new podcast on personality types. If you have been following my blog or even my own podcast over the past few months, you know that I’ve not only been interested in personalities, I’ve also been connecting personality psychology to my research on empowerment–particularly the Sense of Self  (the 6th principle of my Empowerment Framework). 

    So this new podcast has been quite a treat for me to access. And usually when someone shares content that impacts me intellectually or emotionally, I will write some type of open letter. 

    Well today’s reflection can be seen through this vein. It’s an open reflection in response to their episode on personality type and higher consciousness. As I listened, all of my outputting, specifically around pain and suffering, was brought info focus, making my case that suffering is ultimately about being happy. And, as their words (from the podcast) co-mingle with my words (in this reflection), I’m looking forward to seeing new thoughts and ideas emerge. 

    So here goes…

    **** 

    So far, I have only mentioned suffering and happiness but the two additional words in the title suggests that this reflection is about something more. It is so let me explain.

    In a different episode, the hosts explain that intuitives (who make up roughly 25% of the population) go through an evolution before they can be fully and effectively integrated into the world around them (which roughly is 75% comprised of sensors). In what is called the pre-awakening stage, intuitives know that they are substantially different than those who are around them yet because of their suffering from not knowing they were intuitive in a sensory-oriented world, they problematize the difference instead of seizing it for the treasures and uniqueness it offers. However, once they come into knowing about intuition, about its value (about the 25% of the population who exist and can potentially offer relatedness and validation of their thinking treasures), there is a certain level of growth and happiness that abounds. 

    In one of my latest podcast episodes, I talked about my readings on language– how it captures abstract thinking. The higher up you go in abstraction, the more specific your words must become to precisely convey what general terms and concepts cannot. 

    I read that intuitives live at higher levels of abstraction; thereby increasing their need for specific words to offer the sensing world the concreteness that it requires. Without having access to the words that exactly express the heightened abstraction, an intuitive can flounder in an abyss of silence…unable to communicate what is truly within. And existentially speaking, this muting is pure hell. 

    So, in the absence of knowing about intuition, an intuitive can live problematized, invalidated and muted, making the discovery of other intuitives and an intuitive word bank pure bliss. And nothing has moved me into this blissfulness more than my writings, connecting to new words, and connecting to readers and other writers who truly get it. 

    **** 

    The episode that I listened to that prompted me to roll over and write this reflection, talked about the ego as part of the self that wants to exist. In contrast, the episode also talked about a state of transcendence where the individual moves beyond the self to being an observer of the self. Well, I feel my feet oddly planted in these two extremes and believe my ultimate point in this reflection is to say that I’m celebrating the self that is ego and the self that transcends ego. 

    This realization is what clicked most for me as I was listening to the episode this morning. As an intuitive that spent most of my life in the pre-awakening stage (a life without words, without models and without an affirmation of the self– as well as one who has dedicated her career strengthening the visibility of other people’s selves), I am not ready to step away from my self. I am not ready to step away from my awareness of and connection to the ego (especially now that it is healing). I’m enjoying the discovery and the freeing of what has been repressed and denied…because honestly, it feels damn good!

    And, truthfully, as I have been confronted by three deaths in the past twelve months, I have recently started conceptualizing my departure from the self. Without knowing, I have started peeking into my transcendence, re- imagining a place called heaven. My Christian upbringing says heaven is a physical place where there are gold pavements, a pearly  gate, and awarded gems to signify one’s goodness while on earth. Now, I have to admit, and frequently pray for forgiveness, that the existence of an individual self (as in the ego), a social stratification and a moral meritocracy in the afterlife is a little unsettling. It makes the Christian heaven too much like the social world that we currently experience while in the physical body. And goodness help me if the Big Guy or Gal (note the Christian deviation) is anything like our current world leader. No better yet…goodness help us all!!

    So over the past few days I’ve started seeing a different kind of heaven… a heaven that exists as purely ideas and concepts. And when I depart  from my body, I see myself turning into a thought and then connecting to a central thought  (could it be love?) as though I’m a puzzle piece finding my way to many other puzzle pieces as we merge together in some form of unified concept (conscienceness).

    But I can see my grandmother poo-pooing that type of heaven. She died a strong Christian woman so I imagine her crowned, passing those pearly gates, easing on down those golden roads…heading straight for the heavenly kitchen to create some type of heavenly meal for the heavenly Father. Because cooking and eating were her happy like reading, writing and thinking are mine. 

    So I’m not going to bemoan her heaven but I am going to imagine mine. And I think this ability to see a new me beyond my individual self — beyond my individual mind and body– says I’m not overly tied to the ego. I can see me transcending as well right here while I’m still in the physical. But for now I’m going to bask in the happiness of the self, of the ego, and know that my transcendence is rooted in my acceptance of the self as being whole, dignified and validated. 

    **** 

    This is my happiness.  It’s the recognition of my suffering… as a condition of my uniqueness. To be an intuitive among sensors, in a body that holds very little capital in a world that centers white men, means that the struggle is real. There’s a freeing nature of knowing that the suffering is the result of tangible resistance to my self…to my ego. This is my liberation–transcendence of the systems (cultural and structural) that want me powerless. There is power in knowing the truth…to be better able to navigate the margins because I understand what they are preserving.  

    I am not the margins. I transcend them …through my suffering. It is here that I confront that  I am self. I am whole, dignified and validated. I am not my body…and for that matter,  I’m not even my ego. 

    I am transcendence. I am an idea. 

    I am happy.  

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