Lady Liberty has been faced with her own reflection and now must choose; stay the same or face the ego. She is swept away to the land of Oz, where her strongest qualities personified assist her in this duel.
In learning about herself, LL has come to understand how much of what she boasts to be unique to her land, comes at the cost of others, is borrowed or stolen, and is not welcoming to all. It was for this reason I chose to begin the video with Tere Mere Beech Mein. The song, from the Bollywood film Ek Duuje Ke Liye, served as inspiration forToxic, unbeknownst to most who celebrate it. It speaks on the appropriation, lack of acknowledgement for said appropriation, and the ostracization of those who culture is borrowed from.
The Wizard of Oz serves as a backdrop. In my mind, the film centers around one’s personal development and some degree of “enlightenment”. The Tinman, Scarecrow, and Lion all serving as areas where once Dorothy felt scarcity (heart, wisdom, courage), but through facing fears, she is shown that she has had them all along. May we all come to that realization for ourselves.
The Wicked Witch serving as the ego; the aspect of one that attempts to keep them in a perpetual state of fear and hesitation. Facing the ego is a path to growth for us all. May you one day brave that journey, my friend.
SBCNSLY is one those songs that when I heard it, I felt the spirit of instant recognition. Before I even knew what this song was about, I knew it was me. A story came rushing to my mind, one not fully apparent in the video (which I enjoy), and I would like to share that story with you. It feels… It is… personal.
My initial idea consisted of a woman at a celebration of sorts, perhaps somewhere in South America. In my mind, it was Brazil. And she was enjoying herself, dancing and laughing during a festival. This was a big festival, one that everyone looked forward to. And she was the belle of all balls. To watch her dance and laugh, was to be inspired.
In all her joy, she turned around to see her significant other kissing someone else. And, feeling so hurt, she was unable to allow herself to accept that it happened, to show any signs of acknowledgement. Although, it slowly becomes apparent to all.
So, she continued dancing… Forever. She never stops, because she knows if she stops, she must face this reality. And so she dances her way out of the festival, down the street, across the city, for all eternity. Smiling and dancing. She becomes mythological. Everyone knows her story. It’s perhaps the first story children are ever told. And she does all this, to keep from feeling the inevitable pain.
For me, this represented a fear that has always lingered in my mind. One that I will someday face. Increasingly people are beginning to accept the idea of an open relationship and I always feared that my partner would find someone of greater privilege and social ranking and fall in love with it. Not them, but the access, the visibility, etc and leave me. This is not an original fear, but has shown its face here and there. But, I plan to face this fear head on, when that day comes.
Being in quarantine, having a film crew of just me, and having the time restraint of about 24 hours, I decided to simplify, to adjust the story. And so it became a combination of hers and mine. For me, it was about the fear of vulnerability. Just as the song… songs. I imagined myself in a wedding dress on my wedding day, wondering if I could actually do it. Be myself. Be goofy. Be focused. Be loving. Be Me. And be accepted by this person. Truly accepted, or would, upon seeing all that is me, they begin to judge me and turn me into their enemy. I imagined being so frightened of this, that I became a giant, out of pure frustration, looking out over the city, watching people, wondering how any of them manage to be so vulnerable. And the backup dancers, I imagine were her. The beautiful woman from Brazil, coming to support me in my lament.
May we all face our illusory fears and grow into that which we are truly meant to be.
“You’ll hit gold more often if you simply try out a lot of things.” ― Ira Glass
The renewable resource that, for all my life, has fueled the vehicle that drives me, is the search for GOLD. And so, I have tried a lot of things and found gold here and there, but mostly gold plated rocks. But, that doesn’t stop me, because I know gold is out there. But, after losing friends, feeling trapped and suicidal, and watching “family” become more and more distant, I began to wonder, “is there gold in here? within me?”Every teaching I have encountered tells me that I must first see what I desire within myself before I can see it without. And so, I began a quest inward, to discover the natural resources that lay hidden in the fields of my inner world, that no military force could ever excavate or monetize. And along this inward journey, I was surprised to see ideas from the outside world.
“Your best isn’t good enough”
“I don’t date black people.”
“I’ll fucking kill you, you stupid f****t”
I found that my fields were filled with weeds, draining the nutrients of the soil of my soul and keeping my flowers of love from reaching their full potential. And this was no coincidence. You see, years ago, as a child, I asked the universe to guide me towards expansion, growth, enlightenment. And as Abraham Hicks says, “you always get what you want.” I got it; a never ending parade of lessons; growth in wolf’s clothing, as Robin Sharma would say. Initially, I took to victim-hood. “Why is this happening to me?” With time, I began to see patterns, I also began to see how this idea of being a victim would often keep my from doing things that I KNEW would help me. A clear solution would stare me in the face and all I could think was, “someone help me,” when it was I who needed to help myself. So, for once, I decided to tend to my own garden, rather than wait for some sexy gardener to take interest in my fields. I used tho only tool I could find, a HOE.
HOE or Heaven on Earth is a state of mind, that helps one to see more clearly that which is dis-empowering and drains your resources (weeds) in order to consciously remove them and actively care for and focus on, that which empowers you (flowers). Initially, I scratched the surface and was amazed by the results I found, the short-lived results. Changing the words I used during self-talk, becoming more and more aware of my self-limiting beliefs, they were just the beginning. If I wanted true change, I had to get these weeds by the root. So, I stopped. Everything.
I stopped watching TV, I stopped drinking alcohol, I stopped smoking, I stopped having sex, I stopped watching porn, I stopped masturbating, I even stopped fantasizing. I stopped focusing on changing things and started focusing on being something completely different. I imagined that person I always hoped I’d become; what he looked like, how he thought of himself in relation to the world around him, the compassion he had for others, how he expressed Love. And I decided to stop waiting for him to appear and just do it. Now. In ever situation, I’d ask, How would my future self see this situation? He has tons of insight. How would my future self transform this narrative into something more helpful? What environment would my future self put himself in, that would be conducive to growth? And that being, my future self, would travel in time, from the future to the present and show up in situations as myHero.
He showed me to have compassion for those who aimed at hurting me, because just as I am learning how much my conditioning is shaping me, so too are they. Their lack of Love is not about you, it is about them and it can only hurt you if you take it personally. Have compassion.
He showed me that if I don’t want to swim, don’t get in the water. Why continue to put yourself in an environment that hasn’t learned to respect you? Go elsewhere.
He showed me one my greatest tools; focus. Where you attention goes, energy flows. Be mindful of where you place said attention, in your thoughts, in your actions, and be mindful of that which aims to distract you. Distraction is the vice of Focus. So, what are you really gaining from the distraction of meaningless sex, likes on Instagram, notifications on your phone? You are gaining distractions.
Future me is the hero I have been waiting for my entire life. It’s only that I hadn’t realized he was inside me this entire time. The past few years have seen me in, what some may call, extreme isolation. This was the only way for me to discover what is me and what is noise. And now, I believe, The Universe is conspiring to align me with those vibrating at a similar frequency . Those who, like me, tended to their own gardens and found within them, GOLD.
Every person you experience is a computer. A moving computer. And just like the one sitting on your desk, each of these computers is running programs like Windows Media Player, Safari, Photoshop, etc. The programs on your at-home desk computer are standard. They are exactly the same (for the most part) across the board. But, with the people you experience, these programs are NOT the same, as these programs are not installed from one source, but rather a myriad of sources with varying belief systems or, for our purposes here, laws. For example, the program “love” has been installed in most of us, if not all of us. But, the features and capabilities of this program differ depending on the updates you personally have gotten and those updates come from your surroundings, the influence of media, and the degree to which you listen to your intuition, among many, many other things most notably, “emotional events”.
So, when James tells Isiah, “I love you”, to the unaware computer, there is one story happening here and in media, it would most likely show us this under one lens, a lens we often subconsciously confuse with our own, but, we will get to that later. Perhaps, Isiah’s program, “love”, interprets this to mean, I want to be in a romantic relationship with you and express my love through sex. While James may intend to express, “I see your value and am so grateful to experience you.” The computer that is you uses context, fear, and many other factors to draw up a reality in each situation. As we see, with Isiah and James, that reality is not universal, but rather, personal. And in an effort to under-simplify this, there are infinite variations to this.
So, each of us computers has hundreds, thousands of programs running and none of them interpret our experiences exactly the same using the same “laws”. As you can imagine, this can lead to some real confusion. But, fret not, my friend. Each of us computers also come with another program. We will call it, the “likeness” program. And this program acts as a magnet. It sends out signals to all computers, this signal is not received by the conscious part of the computer, the “you” that you believe you are, but rather, by the unconscious part; the part that keeps you breathing, the part that releases saliva when you chew, and the part that even drives for you when you are not paying attention. And this signal is your…. let’s call it, “vibration”. Constantly, your computer is broadcasting a vibration, calculated by the laws of the programs you are running, or what people often call, your “belief system.” And your computer is always looking for a vibrational match, which is a spectrum as opposed to one possible vibration, because remember, as we stated earlier, there are infinite programming possibilities, like what we saw with James and Isiah. Your computer is aware that surrounding itself with other computers of similar enough programming means interaction with these computers will have more ease. And it is for this reason, that you find yourself surrounded by people you “like”. You think it is your personal taste, when really, it is the “likeness” program effectively running…. your life.
It’s so interesting how we are all influenced by programs we don’t even know we are running, right? It almost seems as though, our lives are automated. Well, to a degree, they are. As a new computer, you are sent to a programming center, for our purposes, we will call that center a “school”. And there you are introduced to programs like, justice, friendship, nation, etc. And over the course of your life, you keep updating these programs or “maturing” and they change. The idea you had of “justice” as a five year old computer, is not the same as the one you hold now, because it has been updated. And while you are conscious of some of this (less than you think), most of this happens without your awareness. But……. you’ve guessed it! There’s a catch. You see each computer requires harmony for it to function properly. Can you imagine how you would feel if you actually felt that you were not in control, but rather that you were being influenced by everything around you? You are, but that doesn’t matter. It just matters what your computer allows the conscious part, the “you” that you think you are, to believe. So! Your computer has another feature we call, “Choice”. But, it’s not what you think it is….
Choice is not a matter of selecting or making a decision. But, rather of making you feel you have made the decision. A quality decision, to boot. Like when a parent manipulates a child into agreeing to watch a movie, that otherwise the child would have no interest in. Or when someone asks you, “do you like Pepsi or Coke?” You believe, in that moment, you are deciding, because that is the function of the program, Choice, running in your computer. But, really, over the years, your computer has been influenced by the likes of Britney Spears commercials, parental choices, and an algorithm of “taste” developed over years of consuming whatever it is your computer consumes the most of. So, when the question is presented, your computer knows the answer is Pepsi, but the program Choice runs “options” and “thinking” to help you further identify with the final choice; Pepsi. A
Now, listen, your computer doesn’t want to betray you, to “lie” to you. It’s more of a white lie (your understanding of “white lie” is deeply embedded in your programming, given what you’ve learned “white” to be). You see, your computer wants you to be the best you can be. But, it believes the best way for you to get there, is gradual change that you can’t see, because it notices how you react to abrupt changes in definition or information, we will call this detail Meta. For example, your significant other is cheating on you. The computer that is you knows this is true the moment it happens, because the moment it happened it became part of your partner’s signal, the one, their Likeness program is broadcasting, their vibration. And your computer has picked this up. Over the years, it has used your past experiences as a sort of retro-active simulation. For example, when your parents were splitting up, they did it slowly; they argued, one parent left for a few days, they stopped talking etc. And so, when the day came, that your parents told you, “honey, we are getting a divorce,” you were not surprised and you handled it “well” or in a way that is not dis-empowering. But, when your best friend in middle school told you they were moving to another state, they day before said move was to take place, your conscious reaction was not empowering. Looking at this information, Meta decides not to release this information all at once, it instead, introduces suspicion, doubt, and questions. And slowly, your computer closes the program “love”, that is being run from your computer to that of your partner’s so that you accept the inevitable update. IF, that falls in line with what your computer believes it should do, its programming. There are infinite possibilities to this. Your belief system or programming may desire to be “wronged” in this way and unbeknownst to you, or subconsciously, looks for relationships where this might happen. Why?
Remember, the computer that is you wants you to be the best you can be, while at the same time, comfortable. So it looks at your programming and it sees updates that are helpful, more empowering. And remember that the Choice program is always running, giving you the illusion of choice. So, what it does is, it puts you in situations that make the growth (updates) it has already decided it will make, necessary. So, if when your parents got divorced, you slowly developed a sense of abandonment and the computer that is you has decided that this feeling of abandonment, which perhaps was useful at the time, helping you to place blame somewhere to help manage a feeling of loss in your less mature years, is no longer useful at this adult stage of computer-hood, it looks for a simulation to enter you into, so that you can make this “conscious” decision to change. You begin broadcasting the signal, “people abandon me” and when you met your partner, they were broadcasting the signal, “I abandon people”. These signals are the same (opposites are complimentary and essentially the same, in the way that dark exists, by definition, because light exists and vice versa, without the one, the other would not exist and so they are the same). The simulation began, all the while, the computer that is you, knew what the end result would be; you “learning” to get past your fear of abandonment. The update was set to happen, it just needed you to feel responsible. Choice. But, it’s not a one way street, because, the computer that is your partner was ready to update as well. The simulation you both entered into is intended to be mutually beneficial. So that you both can make updates to your programs – two computers, one relationship. It’s just the Choice program that wants you to believe that you are responsible, to keep you invested in what is essentially, one giant simulation. So, it created an emotional situation that gave you two choices; stay in this undesirable situation or make this one change, this one update and “grow”. And your conscious resistance to the program that is you is what dictates how long it will take you to accept this update, but it’s already there. And to influence you more, your brain introduces suffering. Fear is what happens when the laws of your programs say, “the result we do not want, is the one we believe will come to pass”. But, the computer that is you, knows that’s not true. But, the only way it can make change is through updating. So with Choice and Meta running, the computer that is you introduces a monster. It is the “source” of your suffering or your fear projected onto something. And in the same way that a mentor might be hard on you, solely in an attempt to get you to learn to push back against them, This monster and the corresponding simulation are designed to give you something to overcome, behind which lies your update or growth. And because the programs Meta and Choice, require what we mentioned before, you feel a sense of victory, of earning on a conscious level, when in “reality” the computer that is you has orchestrated the entire experience to keep you from a shock to your system that would interrupt your entire experience. And to make you feel you have earned it. You might ask, “how does the computer that is me know what updates to pursue?” Well, it listens to the conscious you. You are constantly shown options for what you could be. Every person you meet, every character you see in some sort of programming (they call it programming for a reason) calls you to answer “yes” or “no”. Yes, I would like be physically fit, no I would not like sail the open sea. And the computer that is you hears all of this, it is always listening to what conscious you says, and it creates a graph that ranks what it believes to be most important to you, based on the emotion you have attached to it, and it calls these ideas, “goals”. The computer that is you calculates your current status and what it would take for you to reasonably accept the changes it would take to get you where you want to be and that’s how it decides what signal to broadcast in order to invite people and experiences into your life that, following the laws of Meta and Choice, make you feel responsible for your gradual, inner change. And when you consciously align with this goal, the computer that is you, goes into overdrive, even altering your tolerance for pain, vision, and various other factors to make it easier for you to achieve this goal. (More information on this can be read in The Upward Spiral, by Alex Korb) This may sound somewhat simple, but it gets a bit more complex. You see, although the conscious you wants these changes, it can still resist them, even with Meta and Choice running. And when you resist these changes, you experience stress or the inability to accept reality. The feeling that corresponds with this experience is supposed to be similar to rumble strips or sleeper lines, growlers; the raised pieces of asphalt on the side of the road that communicate to you, that you are driving off the road. When you feel stress, you are driving off the road. You are resisting the updates the computer that is you is making and the easiest way to end it, is to accept it. But, as we computers continue to develop a world of unnatural comfort, free of even the healthiest of stresses, our conscious selves resist these stresses even more. This is why most computers in this existing society are “unhappy”. They have found comfort in their “reality” and do not wish to change, the one thing your inner computer never stops doing.
Now, let’s introduce the internet. The internet allows computers from all over the world to communicate with each other at a speed that we will refer to as “instantly’. Now, remember, the Likeness program on your computer has settled itself in a community of similarly programmed computers, remembering that even “opposite” computers are similarly programmed. But, now, your computer can communicate with any computer, as though it is here, in its own community. Interesting, right? One thing that causes conflict is a difference in reality. You see, the camera on your computer, or your eyes, only use 10% of what is physically before it tor produce the image you see or “sight”, the rest is rendered by your brain in real time (Hear Donald Hoffman discuss this further). It is for this reason that, last night, when you were on a stroll through your neighborhood, you stopped and began walking slowly as you saw what you thought to be a small dog. The computer that is you ran all sorts of simulations; the dog is lost, the dog is dangerous. the dog is your neighbors, the dog is crazy, etc. And as you slowly arrived at the dog, you saw that it was a brown bag and not a dog at all. Your camera system, which we will no use to refer to your eyes and the mechanisms in your computer that create sight, saw something. It was dark and far way. It ran the possibilities, given context and past encounters on similar experiences, and came back with its best guess; dog. The thing is, the computer that is your brain does this in. ever. single. moment. Often, it is “right” and when we can all agree that the guesses are brains are making are the same, we say it is, “reality”.
Have you ever had this conversation with your friend?:
Should I wear the dress I wore last Saturday? The black one? No, it’s blue. That dress is definitely black. It’s blue! Most likely, neither of you is “right” it is most likely some color that neither of your camera systems are able to recognize and so, you both are seeing the best guess the computer that is you is making based on past color verification. Now, given what we have learned about our camera systems, how can this perceived “difference in reality” get in the way of communicating, existing, and understanding when connected to the internet? Well, this perceptual difference that shapes your reality goes beyond color and expands to literally everything, from; the meaning behind the tone someone is using, bias, humor, etc. Imagine you have traveled to another country and you are speaking with someone in your native language, their second, perhaps third language. And this person calls you “pathetic”. Based on what your programming has taught you, this word, is an insult, it is meant to harm you. But, according to their programming, which is actively translating this code from one language to another and using context from its own community far different than yours, what they are saying is, “how unfortunate for you”. Confusing, right?Imagine you are a person that is sexually attracted to “women” and you turn to a friend and say, “wasn’t her ass amazing?” And your friend responds and says, “I didn’t notice”. You are experiencing a difference in reality. You see, your friend is not sexually attracted to women and so does not quantify their beauty in the same way you have done. They have perhaps noticed her smile or how intelligent she is, thinking of her as a potential friend or business partner. You are experiencing different realities. Now imagine the following conversation with your friend: Let’s invite some people over for some drinks Yeah, I’ll text James. Cool, I’ll text Isiah. Who is Isiah? You know, James’ best friend. Who? His best friend, they are always together. Don’t know him. Yes, you do, you have seen him literally a million times. I don’t think so. You have, he’s handsome… tall… he’s black. Oh, the black guy. I mean, I guess we can invite me. You see your programming, as a “white” person has taught you that there is inherent value in being “white”. Hell, you are “white” And it has picked up on all the subtle differences in social capital that everyone has. This nose = $$$$ in social capital. This height equals -$ in social capital. The computer that is you has collected all this information over the course of your entire life (collected from interactions, exposure to media, etc) and created a profile of characteristics both physical and otherwise, that have the most social capital and interest to you. And just as mentioned earlier, when discussing goals, it discovers what is most beneficial to your social goal, based often in knowing what type of person you gain the most from knowing and being known to associate with and it blinds you to all other things to help you achieve your goal of associating with this type of person. It is for this reason, you did not remember Isiah, because the computer that is you decided he did not have value. In the same way, that you didn’t notice, that woman with a “nice ass” was accompanied by a friend, one you also did not assign value. But, remember, there are infinite possibilities to how this can play out depending on numerous factors. Let’s say you meet someone named Brian. The computer that is you runs an assessment and decides his worth.
Where are you from?
What do you do?
Where do you live?
Your brain has decided, “ehhh, I have nothing to gain from associating with this computer based off my understanding of his value and my projection of how the rest of the world values him. And then, your friend comes over and says, “Oh, I see you’ve met Brian. He’s how I got my invitation to this party. His dad is the CEO of Campbell Soup”
Suddenly, Brian has a lot of value. This is what conscious you will notice, but what it will not focus on is that initially you believed him to be of no value. You saw the color of his skin, you heard he lived in Camden, NJ, and that he worked as an intern. But, what you didn’t know is that he lives in Camden, because the successful business that his father runs, which he interns for, is located there.But, remember, this was no accident. The computer that is you knew that you had developed this unconscious bias, it also saw on the graph that it had created for your life, that you desire to be a major leader in the world and it calculated that the major change necessary to reach this goal, was to end your value system, unconscious to you, based on race. The computer that is Brain had developed a sensitivity to these sorts of experiences, which he encounters all the time. And he aimed to get past this, and so he broadcast the signal, “test me, to see if I have finally learned to stop taking it personally when someone decides I have no value based on the color of my computer”. And so, the two of you engaged in this rendezvous. The computers that are both of you have already made the updates, but needs you, based on the laws of the program Choice, to accept this new (to you) reality. If you do, you will experience a sense of growth and warmth and when you continue on in your journey, you will be grateful to have learned such a lesson for yourself. If not, you will continue to experience stress, each and every time you behave in this way, until you either learn, or cement yourself in a life of misery, caused by your inability to update (mature) and spend years wondering why you have this emptiness deep inside of you. And remember, the possibilities of laws, programs, beliefs, fears and the combinations of them are infinite making yours and everyone else’s path extremely unique. But, the goal is the same: Growth.
I went to Zipolite, Oaxaca, Mexico to be free and to grow. When I arrived, I said, “Zipolite, when this is all over, I would like to be a completely different person. Someone far more empowered.” It wasn’t my first time at this nude, extremely gay-friendly beach and so I knew my request would be met with learning experiences, as this is a magical beach town and everyone knows it.
It wasn’t long before I met someone. A guy. A Taurus. We were just walking down the beach and… the next thing you know, we were naked in my airbnb, doing what boys do, when no one is watching. But, it was clear from the first moment we met, this was going to be a learning experience. Initially we were overwhelmed with all that we had in common, but before we could revel in the details, the plot thickened. As it oft does. You see, this guy lost his job the very day we met. And before we did anything sexual, I spent some time comforting him as he cried on my bed. I have enough love in my heart, patience, and understanding to lend to a person in need, especially someone I have just met. So, I had no problem with this, but what I didn’t know, was that this information served as a kick to a metaphorical door, that slowly opened over time, to allow for a flood of circumstances that would color our lives and ask us to transform.
The next few days we spent together, unseparated. And it was on day three that the other shoe dropped. You see, the place where this guy was living, was provided by his employer and he was no longer employed and so… yes, you guessed it. They kicked him out.
His only options were to go back to his hometown, where the possibilities seemed, to him, to be limit-full or find a way to stay in Zipolite. Seeing this dilemma, I offered for him to stay with me.
I was not unaware of the possibility that the intention could exist within him, to take advantage of me. As a matter of fact, when we first began exchanging stories of our lives, I noticed that every story he told involved him cheating on someone, using someone, stealing something out of revenge, and so forth. He even admitted, “sometimes when I meet people, I make sure to make a good impression and I am very good and responsible with them in the beginning, so that I establish myself with them, and so later, I can completely stop doing it, all together, without it being noticed, because I’ve already established a reputation as a responsible, good guy.”
The possibilities were not lost on me. I had my own intention, which was to be of service. I know that everyone in this world is trying to find their way, and I have been practicing not taking the things they do, personally. And, to not be afraid to help someone who, perhaps, thinks you are unaware of the fact that they want something from you. In my life, it has been the selflessness of others that has shown me that is possible to be different. To exist in a different way. To live under a more empowering paradigm. And so, I used this opportunity as a chance to see how much I could be a lighthouse.
I also knew that, as someone who is usually very independent, when I find myself romantically involved with someone, I can somehow become very attached. And I wanted to see if I could be different.
Our first weeks together, were a breeze. This guy is a chef and so he cooked everyday. He even adopted a vegan diet while staying with me. And I paid for everything.
This guy is a Taurus, I am a Scorpio. It is match that I have been hearing about for years. The point of conflict being that a Taurus is typically concerned with beauty and status while the Scorpio is typically concerned with feelings and control. Could we overcome?
Flags of various colors were raised. The first, being, that the more time we spent together, the less he listened to me. As a matter of fact, he interrupted me on a consistent basis. A voice in my head said, “this is going to annoy you. you should get away now.” But, I really wanted to see just how unbothered I could be. In my spiritual journey, I have learned that, it’s not about what happens to you, it’s about how you deal with it. And I saw this as a challenge. How can you navigate this? How can you change the narrative in your mind to something more empowering?
He also slowly became quite dismissive. Literally waiving his hand at me to end a conversation. What an opportunity! I thought. These things that this guy has a habit of doing, just so happen to be things that I have let annoy me since the beginning of time; not being heard, being dismissed. In the “past” my ego would have taken control and attempted to set everyone in their place. But, over the years, I’ve become a different person. As a Scorpio, I don’t use my stinger very often, because I know I can hurt others. I tried an approach, previously unrealized.
“So, you don’t have to change your behavior for me. I understand that is how life works. I can’t make anyone else change, I can only change myself. What I will say, is that you are dismissive when speaking to me and I am not interested in that behavior.”
It was the most straight-forward, non-judgmental approach I have taken to these sorts of “issues”. And this guy was receptive. Initially. But, with a lack of space to digest my experiences, I found myself in a whirlwind. Each day, curious to know what would surface. For both him and me.
I was finding myself being defensive and in the moment being able to change.
I hadn’t done that before. Hearing myself and changing before I could even be noticed by the other.
I was learning to give people more space. I could see how much I would linger and attach myself and in these moments, I would think, “no, you don’t have to do that.” And I would walk away or go do something else altogether. I was beginning to love the challenge.
Then one day, this guy stopped sleeping in bed with me, without saying anything. This lack of understanding and communication seemed… off. To say the least. And this voice kept saying, “he is using you. he doesn’t like you, he likes what you are doing for him and so he is trying to slowly create a new reality without discussing it with you, so that he can have his cake and eat it too.” We had only been in each other’s company for about a week and a half.
Was this fear or intuition? I wasn’t sure. And the whirlwind I was in, kept me from being able to hear the difference. So, I asked him one night,
Are you finding yourself less attracted to me?
… No, why do you say that?
Well, you are slowly becoming non-affectionate and you’ve moved from the bed without saying a word.
No… no. Sometimes I feel like kissing you and being close and sometimes I don’t.
At some point early on, we decided to work on a video together for a song of mine. This video would serve as a launch to a kickstarter for an even bigger project, that would allow me to hire locals, who in this time, are looking for opportunities to make money and to pay him a fee for directing the next project which would help him open his restaurant. You see this guy has worked as a director, directing a documentary, which I found interesting. And I, just so happen to have all the experience I have in creating. But, from the beginning, our lack of understanding the other, stood in our way.
It started when he made the schedule on his own. “Why would you do that?” I asked. To which, I got no response. I could see that the schedule could use adjusting. I have been producing my own work and organizing rehearsals with dancers and other performers on my own for over 10 years. And as a performer, I have been part of such processes for about 16 years. So, at the very least, I had a foundation upon which I was standing. My goal in these moments, was to discover how I could use my talents in these situations without having an ego trip.
I was not unaware of the fact that I had more experience with these things than him, but I was also aware, that when one “doesn’t know” something and they have some underlying insecurity, when someone tries to help them, they might attack. I’ve seen it a million times and I saw the potential in him.
And so this was my challenge; how can I be assertive without trying to take control?
I suggested that we have a production meeting. Something standard, that could help us look over the details and have a better understanding of how we would move forward. It is worth mentioning that everything he wrote was in Spanish and on set everyone only spoke Spanish and while I am about 60-70% fluent in Spanish, it was clear to me that there were some details that I was not understanding. And little did I know, this request would be the end. Because, he refused to ever have a meeting and talk over everything. Refused.
It was surprising for me, as in The US, this would never be acceptable. He would be fired. And I couldn’t wrap my brain around why he always, always seemed to shy away from clarity. It was as though, he hated the notion.
I knew for myself that this is not the way I would ever enjoy working, but remember, I saw this as a challenge. I had to remind myself daily. “This isn’t how you would do things, but here you are, so how can you navigate this differently?” We began meeting the performers who agreed to appear in the video and red flags began rising immediately.
He made the star of my video someone else, not just anyone, but a guy I previously had a sexual relationship with. AND someone he gave his number to right before meeting me. And I only discovered the details of this from listening to the explanation he gave the group. I thought, “this is why I wanted to have a production meeting.” He also flirted with this guy in front of me, while living with me, and I was paying for everything. When I said to him, “why would you make my video centered around someone else without us having a conversation about it?” To which he responded, “it shows humility when an artist can let someone else take center stage.” Which, duh, but why do you think this is a decision you should be making without me? The whirlwind was thickening. I knew a lot of what was happening didn’t work for me, but this was next level. It was bold. He would even try to manipulate me, asking me to go to the other room and set up lights for him when this other guy entered the space, in order to have the chance to be alone with him. Coming from manipulative parents, I could see through this. Crystal Clear. I spoke with the other guy, because I thought of him as a friend. I told him everything and said, “look, it’s not my business what you both do, but I’m just asking that while we are working you could just not flirt back with him, it is very distracting for me. I’m doing my best.” But, this seemed to serve as ego boost for this guy, who saw this as an opportunity not to be there for me, but to get closer to this guy that was living with me. The director also compared us, saying this other guy was better than me. Something I found to be wildly inappropriate. This other dude even echoed things that the director said to me in private, exact words, which let me know they were in communication, talking negatively about me.
When meeting the group of performers, he described me as, “kind of an audio visual artist, well… I guess he is an audio visual artist.” It became clear that the person directing a video for me, didn’t even have supportive thoughts about me. He hadn’t even watched all my videos, or listened to what this process means to me, which is important when collaborating. He told the performers, “if you want to see an example of our work, watch my documentary.” And I thought, how is your documentary an example of OUR work? I have over 13 videos I produced on my own. But, somehow this has become about you.
The first time I asked to speak with him was after a day of filming where I got no direction, I didn’t even know what was in frame or what he thought this moment signified for my character. I approached him and put out my hand, as to help him up from his seat and he pushed my hand away. He then stood up and puffed his chest. I said, “what are you doing is this some kind of defense mechanism?” to which he responded, “yeah, deal with it, because I’m not going to change.” I brought up the topic and hand and he walked away, with an attitude of not caring. I just stared at him, because I had never seen this behavior from him, BUT i had seen it from guys with insecurities in the past. He then pushed past me with such force that I almost fell over. In that moment, I said, “I don’t think this will work for me,” and immediately his attitude changed, he was compassionate suddenly, “no I know, it’s my fault. Please you are so enlightened, please don’t take these things I am doing personally. I don’t want my ego to get in the way of this project.” Another night, we were having the time of our lives, singing and running along the beach and as soon as we got home, he changed, he became hostile, almost like another person. He said, “stop saying nice things to me. I don’t want to hear it anymore. I don’t care if we were meant to find each other. Stop talking about it.” In this moment, I was rubbing his arm. I then removed my touch. “Oh, and now you stopped touching me. Why did you do that? Look, I get like this sometimes when I drink. I should go to bed before I say something I don’t mean.”
Surprisingly, we was still calling me “baby” and “honey”. It was all very confusing. He even accidentally said it in front of the group and the other guy and I watched him, catch himself as he did it and this moment was probably the most telling of all.
At this point, the only thing, that kept me invested was the opportunity to see if I could indeed get through this experience and find a way to not let these things that were happening bother me. To become completely unmoved emotionally by what was happening.
To finally become…
That, however, did not come to pass. The last day on set was filled with tension. He refused to speak with me, the artist, on set. He had an attitude with me, he never told me anything that was happening and he continued to flirt with this other guy in front of me. I did manage to find a way to not take the flirting personally. I was doing okay. We had so many things to discuss, we hadn’t completed all that we planned that day and we only had one more day of filming left. Even though all that was coming to pass was extreme and not a situation I would normally find myself in, I really felt pretty good by the end of the day, because I was getting better and not taking things personally. But, when he didn’t show up to our meeting to review choreography and scheduling. I was done. It was the never ending story. I was torn up, because I knew the others had no idea what was going on and to cancel felt like I was letting everyone down, but when I considered spending another 12 hour day with him and this energy, him ignoring me, giving me attitude, flirting with this other guy, this other guy now decidedly flirting back, I thought, “you know what, I’m not interested.” And so I canceled.
I sent a message to the group explaining that we were no longer continuing with the project. And it tore my heart apart. But, overall I was grateful for the experience. This experience showed me how I create problems for myself, how I sometimes give more than I should, how I often don’t take my time getting to know someone before moving forward with them, how sometimes I fall back so hard that I almost disappear, and how I could work even harder to understand Spanish. I don’t judge this guy at all, I love him. I gave him a place to stay for 3 weeks, I fed him, and I never held it over his head. I gave him money. I even spent $100 on a domain name for a website and designed it for him. I was there for him. When I asked for the footage to try to put something together with what we had, he said, “since we are no longer collaborating, it will cost you.” I could have tried to guilt him and such, but that’s not what I am about.
For his sake, it would be beneficial for him to learn from this situation, because there is a gap between his behavior and view of the world and the person he wants to be. But, instead of focusing on that, I am focusing on closing my own gap. Because I too, have changes to make. Lessons to learn. For example,
With this video, I wanted to try something different. I am beginning to see a style emerge in the videos I produce and before I get to comfortable, I am interested in shaking it up a bit and adding to it.
The concept started as a class on public speaking in a magic school. And the initial idea was, what does that look like? When you can use magic to elaborate and help tell a story or get a point across, what do you do? Given the time I had to complete the project, I adjusted the idea to “How to Be a Fuck Person 101”; a class on expressing your fuck person nature.
I realized that for years, I ventured away from using rap music, for fear of losing an audience. And then I realized I was limiting people in my mind by doing that, so instead, I did what I wanted. A call and answer. The gentleman gives his presentation and is interrupted by classmates who have bigger questions, such as, “Nigga, do yo tongue get wet or nah?”
This project reminds me not to judge people on the way they express themselves and not to assume that people aren’t open minded, but to instead, give them space to be what they choose.
And love them regardless of that choice.
I Love You.
I don’t own rights to the music. I produced and performed in the video. DJ Khaled, Drake: For Free Jucee Froot, Raedio: Eat Itself (From Insecure) Theriseofheavenonearth.com
How curious that we all want Love. And yet, many of us feel we don’t have it. Is this feeling an illusion or a result of our personal and collective paradigm?
There is no shortage of Love. Essentially, it grows on trees and we are the branches of said trees. Previously, I practiced hesitation when expressing my love. For friends, family, lovers (the irony). Out of fear of rejection.
Wisdom and Experience have enlightened me to the fact that Love is the answer to every “problem” one encounters. Your circumstances are not a unique excuse for being unloving.
When I was living in fear, I allowed myself to get hung up on people telling me they weren’t attracted to Black guys. Everything we see tells us to be hurt and enraged. The reaction is literally handed to us.
if you deny they sky, it does not deny you.
If you deny gravity, it will still hold on tight.
And if you deny my love, you have merely kept it from your sight.
I’m still here loving you. Whoever you are.
When you change your behavior as a reaction to that of others, you become the other. Be it Love, or the illusion of hate.
When I was a child, I remember learning about people being persecuted for their religious beliefs. And as a boy of about 5 years, I asked, “why didn’t they lie about their beliefs, so they wouldn’t be killed.” And now, without words, I understand.