What My World's Like

discomfort in solidarity.

Dec
16

press play and continue to read.
[audio:http://www.whatmyworldslike.com/audio/solitude.mp3]

boarded a train in brooklyn today. the cars before the one in front of me were pretty packed, but this one wasn’t. just as i was getting on, i noticed a man covering his nose, and shortly afterwards, saw a few others clenching theirs. near the back of the car was a person covered in a coat, leaning forward, surrounded by plastic bags. there were stares of contempt, as if this person was disrespectfully sullying our commute.

when the train reached the next stop, many hurriedly moved to other cars. the thought to do the same entered my mind, but it was followed with another thought that made me pause.

discomfort in solidarity.

i was offended by the disgust some people seemed to have. not with the smell itself, but the ostensible disgust with the person emitting the smell. it occurred to me that as uncomfortable as everyone in that subway car was, no one was more uncomfortable than the person we all wanted to distance ourselves from. none of us knew that person’s story, and i’m sure very few even considered it. we know casualties of this culture exist, but despite that, we often blame and reject the individual, instead of pointing to our corrupt system as a highly plausible factor behind some of the uncomfortable social experiences we face.

in a moment, after having the thought to be uncomfortable with and not because of that person, i understood this. i understand how easy it is to enter or remain in poverty and homelessness. i understand pride and how easy it is to unnecessarily suffer because of it.

not only are so many jobs not offering livable wages, the jobs themselves are simply atrocious– repetitive, mind-numbing, body-numbing, spirit-numbing, dull. we are in a culture that seeks to numb and dull us. don’t let this system harden your heart. don’t let repeatedly seeing abject poverty and homelessness normalize those conditions. they’re not normal and they’re not necessary in a social system that is an entire human fabrication.

feel. connect. empathize. i’m all about feeling good, but there is a wholeness to the human experience that capitalism and class and media tell us that we can and maybe even should avoid. still, there is so much beauty in sometimes making the decision to suffer with people in solidarity.

“When ‘I’ is replaced with ‘we’ even illness becomes wellness.”
— Malcolm X

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soundtrack:
above: “solitude” by derrick hodge, live today
“taiwa” by marc cary, focus
“you ain’t alone” by alabama shakes, boys & girls

#notetoself: relax into the discomfort.

Mar
26

discomfort zone

This is the third #notetoself letter, originally sent on February 20, 2012.

Isla de Ometepe in Nicaragua is an island formed by two volcanoes with an isthmus between them. Many consider it to be a magical place, although I haven’t yet figured out exactly what makes it so, but suspect I will soon. It’s beautiful and there are more signs of nature than the 42,000 people that live here. I’m staying on a permaculture farm with all kinds of good stuff: random greens, herbs, coconut, banana, plantains, Moringa, Mayan breadnut, taro, jackfruit, neem, guava, cashew, cinnamon, mango and so much more.

When I first arrived, I was ecstatic. Everything about this place was cool– the outdoor showers overlooking Lago Nicaragua, the largest lake in Central America, the squat toilets, the compost toilets, the outdoor dorms with amazing views of the sky (basically just a covered platform with a black tarp on one side acting as a wall), the hammock on the platform in a tree overlooking Volcan Concepcion, the solar-powered outdoor kitchen…

I slept horribly the first night. The only two options for mosquito nets was one that was a bit too small for the bed and one that was the appropriate size, but disgusting. It could’ve been from bat droppings, flies, mosquitoes, any number of things. To me, it didn’t matter; it was just really too disgusting for my comfort. The second night, I forgot to charge my cell phone during the hours of 10-3 when we can charge only if it’s sunny. Since the 6:45 meeting is a bit early for me still, I needed an alarm. Rather than asking someone to wake me up, I decided to sleep in the hammock up in the tree where you can see bright, vivid stars. It was windy and cold all night long. Not a good call, but I was still happy about the experience. The third night, an insect flew into my ear while I was sleeping at 2 am. Another lady here helped me drown it with saline solution, but then I was bothered by the fact that there was a dead insect in my ear. The next day was a fumbling exercise in Spanish and patience, spent going to the town clinic, waiting for it to open, hearing it was closed, deciding to go to another clinic and while waiting for the bus to take me to the other side of the island, discovering the town clinic was in fact open but not really equipped to adequately help me. The nurse looked at my ear with a dim light from her cell phone and flushed my ear with a syringe, ejecting a small, black mosquito. Still, something in my ear didn’t feel right, so she urged me on to the other clinic, where I found out that there was no insect but there was “hongo”. Fungus. I have an ear fungus.

After returning to the farm and preparing for bed that night, I wondered what the hell I was doing. I’m in the mountains. With no electricity. Sleeping outdoors. With a mosquito net that’s obviously not very effective. Freaking out about the plethora of bugs grossly outnumbering me. Really, what?

(more…)

Is your love love?

Apr
27

black-couple-arguing

So much of our worlds are inherited. Often times, what we think about ourselves, about others, how we behave and cope with emotional stress, our expectations as it relates to career, love, and life in general, and so much more are all passed down to us from the people we interact with and from what we read or hear. Children are perfect little recorders of their environments. They pick up the vocabulary, the dialect, and all the subtleties of the human behavior surrounding them. Because of that, the emotional space a child grows up in plays a major role in how they experience and demonstrate their emotions throughout life.

My last relationship was my first adult relationship, and I went into it stumbling, wanting this love, yet very fearful. Much of the time we were together, instead of placing my trust in my partner and what we were building, I was afraid to really open myself up and let him in, let him know where I’d been and what I battled with. In being dishonest with myself, I was dishonest with him. I thought I knew how to love, but I didn’t. The reality was that I didn’t know how to love myself, so I didn’t know how to love him and I felt sort of inept the whole time we were together. Why couldn’t I open up? Why couldn’t I articulate my feelings? Why was I so afraid to be vulnerable and discuss my emotions? Why couldn’t I treat him the way he deserved to be treated?

One word: dysfunction. I was dysfunctional.

(more…)

Running away

Dec
14

running away


I was raised in a city I hated. When exactly it occurred to me that I didn’t like it, I’m not sure. Perhaps my mother’s feelings rubbed off on my sister and me, but for as long as I can recall, I wanted to be elsewhere. Where? Just somewhere else.

I’ve spent the last few months of my life, not elsewhere, but in my hometown, precisely where I didn’t want to be–not for this long anyway. While it takes just a short matter of days to be reminded of all the reasons that prompted me to leave, my family is here and spending an extended amount of time with them after being away for eight years is warming. Both positive and negative emotions have confronted me and I’ve been somewhat conflicted as to what my next move should be: Stay? Go? Where? For how long? The vision for my immediate future is fuzzy; I haven’t been able to place myself anywhere. In the past, this indicated moving somewhere new.

This morning, South Korea invaded my mind. Teaching English there is an idea that’s visited me countless times over the past five years. Maybe I should just do it, I thought. Do it, so I won’t have any regrets. A longstanding desire to travel the planet resurfaced and immediately I was taken by this idea of journeying foreign lands. Would it take me closer to what I want to be my life’s work? Hmm…no. Not really. But I would get to live in another country and see some of Asia. My haphazard life adventures have always taken me places…but what if this time, I’m not supposed to go anywhere?

(more…)