I Saw Two Men Kissing

I saw two men kissing

and I felt disgusted --

that anyone could find such a thing repulsive.

I saw two men kissing

and rubbing noses

and tearing down centuries

of closeted fear

and self-loathing.

A callused hand

caressing a bearded face

A deep and low whisper

I saw a brave love --

as if loving someone

should be a reckless act

As if we, a broken society,

did not lay those landmines ourselves.

 

I saw two men kissing

and I saw a softness,

a tenderness,

so tragically rare.

I saw two sets of eyes

that were scared but certain,

eyes that were done hiding

eyes that were telling the truth.

 

I saw two men kissing

goodbye the hollow roles they were flung

Kissing goodbye the fire within

they never chose to light.

Two male bodies

touching

choking an asphyxiating silence.

I saw two men kissing

and felt the world

exhale.

 

11.17.16

Happy Pride <3

7.18.16

Six months later

and I am still basking in wonder.

wonder of the world and wonder

because I still don’t know what is going on.

 

I grow

            I grow

                        I grow

 

And yet I find myself

slurping up the same flavor of life

with a face of discovery

Incredulous!

 

I keep learning the same lessons

over and over again.

I tilt my chin to the sky and think

“wow, just look how far I’ve come!”

but tugging on my frayed pant leg

is that

s o m e t h i n g

that I heard once

and filed away as

LEARNED.

Falling for nothing,

that something, calling my bluff,

tipped itself off the shelf

and came scampering after me.

 

Thank you, little something.

You keep me humble.

You keep me stable.

You remind me of my predictable and unmistakable

HUMANITY!


You let my eyes not be clouded

by a fog that only forms

at the top of a podium.

You keep my eyes clear

even when my mind drinks the haze.

 

And so I go...

learning and unlearning and relearning

different settings

different faces

different voices

but all so laughably familiar

 

ha ha ha ha ha

Urine for an Adventure

"Cheers!", we chuckled as we "clinked glasses" in a garden shadowed by the colossal mountains of the Sacred Valley. Our glasses were dented plastic containers and our... libation... was glorified pee. Purin, it's called. It's pee from the dry toilet that sits in a big barrel and is mixed with organic plant matter, over time fermenting into a stanky stew that makes a GREAT Natural fertilizer. The plants love it. And we love plants. So we bear the unavoidable smell and dish it out liberally to the thirsty lettuces.

As I quenched the arugula's thirst for nitrogen, I found myself with an emoji-like half smile (you know the one) thinking about the people in my life that would enthusiastically grab a cup o' piss and join me in my odorous task and the many more that would roll their eyes or raise their eyebrow in confused wonder at the fact that I seemingly traveled hundreds of miles to squat in the dirt and pour pee on plants (and occasionally my foot).

I felt a huge rush of gratitude. Gratitude for the immense variability in the human race. Gratitude for the diverse interests and aptitudes we each possess. Gratitude that I could be the one to pour the pee on plants. Gratitude that my mom could be the one to actually listen to someone for the first time in their life. Gratitude that my dad could be the one to stare at a magnified smattering of skin cells and make sense of them. Gratitude that someone had the patience to tinker with a filament until it ignited with light. Gratitude that someone else figured out how to harness the wind to propel a vessel. Gratitude for every person who has done and is doing the highly esteemed and seemingly invisible jobs of the world. I just squatted there, eyes a-glazed, and basked in appreciation.

A few years ago when I was in the midst of my university-fueled mind expansion, I was so hyped on what I was studying. My environmental studies and international affairs dual major with a minor in social entrepreneurship was worth the breath it took to pronounce and explain
because I was convinced it was the way. THE WAY. There was so much work to be done in the world, and the toolbox to change was suddenly clear. How could people justify doing anything but this? Everything else is secondary. We've got work to do! Commence worshipping Muhammad Yunus and start a highly successful triple-bottom-line social business that will solve all the words problems and be wondrously challenging and fun to manage. Go!

I look back on this mindset now with the gentle skepticism and patient understanding of a learned parent to their overly enthusiastic tunnel-visioned child. I envision a super-meta scene of me patting my younger self on the head and saying "you'll understand when you're older". Someday, you'll understand that the man who quits his job to take care of his dying mother has a task just as important as the woman who fights for the rights of forgotten indigenous communities. The woman who draws up draft after draft of the intricate blueprint for a new bridge has a task just as important as the man hammering in its nails. Someday, maybe we will all understand that there is a brilliant synergy of the world that has much more to do with one's intention than it does with one's job title.

I salute you and your efforts, whatever they may be. You can count on me to pour the pee.

Fear + The Power of Naming Emotions

{This is a piece I wrote while traveling through South America in 2016}

Before this trip, I spent a lot of time thinking about fear. At the surface level, of course a trip like this has aspects that could be categorized under "scary". I knew I was setting off to a place I had never been to with an underdeveloped fluency in the language, few solid plans, and no return ticket. This formula combined with an outdated yet deeply ingrained idea of Colombia as the violent and dangerous place it was in the 80's and 90's under the reign of Escobar led people (and sometimes myself) to think I was a bit crazy.

The months I spent preparing for the trip felt like a bad relationship; one minute I was tearing through websites and blogs excitedly scribbling down hikes to go on and foods to eat, falling madly in love and consuming every morsel of information and advice that I could, and the next minute I was flushed with palpable fear and breathless anxiety, wondering what in the world I thought I was doing by quitting my jobs, moving out of my home, and buying a one-way ticket to my now uncharted future.


I started to think more about the physical experience of fear. Because, in truth, it seems that an emotion is only really defined by the way it feels in the body. That's why we call them feelings. So when I would hit the top of one of my roller coaster peaks and start to descend into an abdominal-crunching, breath-restricting pit of whatthehelldoithinkimdoing, I would try to name it so I was no longer just along for the nauseating ride, but suddenly, I could "hold" the feeling. And I found immense comfort in that. Even if I didn't like the feeling, I knew what it was, I could categorize it, make sense of it, and sort of store it away on my bookshelf of emotions. And that level of control dissolved some of the physical manifestations of the emotion.

I also started to think about the language of fear. We so often say "[that thing/person/idea] is scary" or "[that thing/person/idea] is scaring me" as if to suggest that it is objectively something that is made of fear, or that fear is something subjected on us and that we have no control over it. We think we are victims of fear. But in trying to deal with the fears that have constantly arisen over the past few months in anticipation of this trip, and now as I encounter unfamiliar or uncomfortable things, I have been trying to be mindful of the control I have. I have been trying to not let fears whoosh by me and leave behind the dust cloud of physical restriction and helplessness. Instead I've been trying to reach up and catch them, stick them in a labeled jar, and then plop them on a shelf. It feels safer to have labeled jars, because then when I come across the same fear, I know right where to put it and then I am in some way released of the burden.

After deliberating over a number of options, I decided to pack a book by Alan Watts called Become What You Are. At one point, he states: "If I did not dislike fear, it would not be fear." Fear is only fear because you're scared of it. If you are no longer scared of it and cowering away from it, it transforms into a different emotion. To me, just thinking about a fear shines a light on the daunting shadowiness--the feeling of avoidance-- which is often actually scarier than what is hiding behind it.

- February 22, 2016 -