Tuesday, March 8, 2011

There Yet?: Patience as Paradigm

When I was a teenager my father went through a numerology phase. He had books in the house that would tell you about what it meant to be born one a particular day, to add up months and days and years into signposts and warnings. About the same time that I was earning my only ever academic "C" in precalculus my dad was teaching me about what it meant to be a number 11.

According to my father (I never actually read the numerology books and charts myself) eleven is a powerful number. It is one of the few two digit "master numbers" in the numerology system and it is said to be associated with people who are leaders and visionaries and who have an impact on a large number of people. One way of understanding the power of someone who is an eleven in this life is that they have lived many lives before and have learned many lessons in those lives. And the major trap that elevens have to watch out for is impatience. Elevens, my father told me, sometimes use the lessons they have learned through their past lives or early experiences to try to rush people who are learning those same lessons in the present. What can start as an innocent, "Hurry come over to where I am! Look at what I can see from here!" can quickly become a hurtful practice of judgement and impatience. I.e. "Are you STILL learning that lesson? Why don't you just get over it already and move on!!?"

I don't remember anything else about the eleven, even though I know there are many more details. But this thing about impatience has stayed with me, because it has been a major struggle in my life and my relationships with my loved ones and comrades. My impatience has led me to disrespect and disrupt processes that the people around me are going through that will provide insight and needed transformation to all of us. My anxious push for the breakthrough comes from a place of love, and from a deep discomfort for any suffering on the part of the people that I love. But by trying to rush to the revelation I have interrupted my own ability to listen to the people around me, to be present to what they are dealing with, to be a compassionate source of support in their times of suffering. And not only that, sometimes I have literally left people behind, with a "see you when you get there" type of attitude that has left me feeling isolated as well!

Sigh!!! Right now, in the midst of a 5 week road trip across long stretches of desert, and plains, and violated land rank with the smell of cow processing in this country, my impatience for getting there has multiple metaphors and manifestations. Sometimes I can see myself getting into the mode of: "can't we just pretend that we ARE there so I don't have to deal with what further work has to be done in order for us to actually arrive?" And this is a problem, because not only is it hurtful to my fellow travellers (on the scale of my own relationships and of our collective movement) but it also robs me the experience of the journey, and the journey is the most beautiful dynamic thing about being alive.

So as Omi Oshun Joni L. Jones (a brilliant queer black performer, scholar and foundational teacher in the theatrical jazz tradition whom we interviewed yesterday) teaches, the queer approach acknowledge that THIS and THAT are true.

YES we deserve to live in our revolutionary destination. We deserve the full manifestation of community as loving partnership where everyone's needs are met and they are empowered to express their full brilliance. Not only do we deserve it, but our ancestors deserve it. It is crucial and justified to want that world to exist not only NOW but already. That is true.

And, in so many ways, we are not there yet. And we suffer.

But YES, we are blessed to be involved in an intimate unfinished journey that pushes and transforms us, that grows us and clarifies us, that brings us the unexpected. that offers the knowledge that we don't really know what we thought we knew. This is also true.

And I am committed to being present. I am committed to being present to myself and to each of you. I am committed to being present to a this and that where the two don't cancel each other out, but instead love each other, see each other, trust each other like we're supposed to do.

So very very very grateful to be on this journey with you.
Love always,

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