(Let the record show that I am having my first homemade iced chai latte in my usual drinkware, after a long time of drinking coffee, tea, or water, so I feel like being in the appropriate element to write… Now on to the serious stuff~)
The apex of “being in lockdown with my shadows & thoughts” has finally reached. It was an emotionally and mentally tough 3 weeks, with last weekend being the pinnacle of inner purging. I haven’t cried that hard since pre-covid, but this was for many intersecting/interconnected events that I could not fully put into words of what they were or how they bothered me at a spiritual level.
Namely, I met with my shadows. I sat with my pain and emotional wounds. And there is still a long line of them for me to give attention to.
I had hoped that lockdown would end soon. It was not because I wanted to rush back outside and enjoy not-at-home activities that seem like a distant dream now. But it was mainly because I was afraid to confront the scary things that began to rise up from my consciousness — I was looking for distractions and illusions that life was beginning to turn around in my favor.
I wanted to go back to school in the fall. I already registered for courses this coming semester. I looked forward to going back to the library and entering a focused headspace for my research. But we are two months away from having a concrete idea on what instruction will look like, here in New York. And I started contemplating on taking a leave of absence for one semester… I weighed my options, but the final decision will be when my university makes their final decision… Even then, I feel in my gut that I should just take the leave. There are some critical things I need to address within myself before I jump back into that routine.
I wanted to fix a relationship that could have happened months ago. This was an intention made prior to the first case of covid in my area. And as much as we tried to maintain a certain level of communication that was “safe & amiable”, deep down, I was still hung up on those early days. There is no going back, no wishing, no reforming a thing that wasn’t strong enough to take off. For now, a lot of space and self-attention is needed for all…
I wanted to do so much for this new life I was envisioning for myself. To get a start on showing my presence at conferences and panels because I wanted to be taken seriously as an academic and as a writer. To travel. To dine at new eateries & cafes. To visit indie bookstores, museums, and other places of interest. To explore my area beyond the usual spots because I have lived here for 25 years of my life. To enjoy Life itself.
But upon deep reflection, I realized that all of which I have described are rooted in illusion, manifested by bigger systems that make us think we have a sense of control. (I’m sorry if this is going to sound like a tin-hat theory. But I have been listening to various discourses in the last few weeks, and my early years of college thought suddenly came back, but now with greater context & understanding from lived experience.) At a more personal level, I had to ask myself why I felt these things were important indicators of “living a good life” and to what extent will these serve my inner self in the long run…
Of course, I would love to see what else is in my county because I have only frequently 4-5 towns throughout my suburban life. But there is a question of how well do I know the history of this land I occupy? How does that inform my settler mentality, if I do not acknowledge the fact that I live on land that was reaped from original peoples? The communities that have been built on this land may not be aware of what used to lie here, and a few others are struggling to defend & protect their livelihoods. To be able to drive around on roads for my own curiosity is a privilege.
Even visiting public spaces with a tourist mentality is a privilege, especially when NYC is one bus/train ride away from where I live. Having all the free time to walk around aisles of books, to view installations & pop-ups, to eat or drink aesthetically appetizing menu items at aesthetically pleasing venues, and to wander is something that is encouraged by capital-driven systems. Not just buying things, but also showing them off. Most of how I learned about these different places I pin on a list are found through social media. The curation of well-photographed posts drew me in to venturing for that lifestyle dictated by algorithm.
Before I get too negative here, I want to disclose that this is not meant to take away anyone’s joy. It is important to experience joy, amidst all the work we take on for ourselves. Visiting these places can be a breather, a break, a need to rest our overworked minds. What I am trying to say is that we need to discern for ourselves what it means to enjoy something without needing to show proof that we’ve been to a place for instant gratification. The tendency to share online becomes tied to our self-perceptions of value and worth. I have found myself sharing some things to show that I am having a good time and want to brag about it a little. But then it becomes another quest to fulfill my fixation on sharing the “good parts” of my life based on moments. It has taken a while to unlearn that tendency and settle for holding stories that can be shared in given times…
As for the conference/panel bit, that is a whole other discussion that I can say in a few words. This past semester was filled with many pre-covid events that I became overwhelmed with keeping track of them! But I was gaining a sense of self-importance behind my new roles as “emerging academic” and “I’m actually getting my shot here” writer. After the cancellations due to covid, I had to reckon with the fact that these appearances would be nothing more than just empty performances and loose connections in the guise of “networking”, for which I do not think I even had the capacity to do any of it. I am still trying to understand my limits and capabilities in terms of socializing that will allow me to keep my inner self safe while also be able to connect with people who are like-minded and aligned with my own values & ethics in my work. And from what I had observed through various virtual meetings, it became clearer to me that I need deeper grounding in what I am trying to accomplish with my future work. Namely, remember where I come from and whom I will eventually serve and guide in others’ reckonings…
Slowly, I have been taking steps to retreat into my Self. Although we are living in a critical time that demands we answer those calls for action for transformative justice, it cannot be done without doing transformative inner work. And that comes in different forms for ourselves, as we know us best.
For me, it meant keeping distance from social media. Staying informed on news & development while also not divulging too much into distraction. It is a difficult practice, but it has to become a healthy habit.
It meant minimizing contact with certain people for certain reasons, such as not doing the emotional dumping on various things that can be kept in a private journal. Or a personal blog. This gives time & space to check on the bases of my relationships with people who have crossed paths with me so far.
It meant physically rearranging my space of sanctuary because we all need one, for re-centering and recuperation. Two days ago, I reorganized my book shelves, bookcase, and floor stacks that match my evolving intellectual & creative mind. I also intend to convert one of the rooms in my house into an office space that my brother had wanted, years ago, because that should also be another space of sanctuary and honor.
There is a lot more work to be done. I may not talk about all of it because some things I should reserve for myself. Nonetheless, I aim to document the progress as best as I can.