The Warrior Poet, The Scientist, and Non-Duality
I've never been one for "New Year's Resolutions." They've always just seemed like something you say to seem fancy and self-aware and deep, then proceed to almost immediately disregard. Actually, it reminds me a lot of my church experiences growing up. However, I think that picking a consistent time, whether that's January 1, or another time that speaks to you, to stop and assess who you are, where you're going, and what you're up to is important. It's an arbitrary construct, a "new year," but still, I think, valuable. A moment to get real with the good, bad, and ugly, and re-focus on who it is you're wanting to become. It's really easy to lose sight of that amongst the paperwork and meetings and voicemails and travel plans and family drama and romances.
In years past, instead of committing to a resolution, I have set a theme for the year. An intention. Something that I've tried to keep in mind through all 12 months of the solar cycle in all my decision making, big and small. For quite a few years my theme was "healthy boundaries." 2016 was "independence and self-reliance," and last year my theme was "empowerment and authenticity." And as I sit here, a few days into the year 2018, I wonder at the year gone by. What a fucking hellacious 365 days it was! There were so many shootings, so many lost lives. There were actual Nazi's marching proudly in our streets, with permits from city governments! Protesters were killed and equated to the monsters that killed them. So many journalists died. So many black men and women died. So many LGBT lives were snuffed out. We assaulted our Native people. A morally bankrupt, self-serving deviant led our country and nearly started a nuclear war over Twitter. Many of us were teetering on the brink of losing our health insurance (and still are). Truth and fact became subjective ideas. We blamed avocados for poverty. Hurricanes decimated islands, countries, cities. Forest fires blazed across our land, leaving charred scars in their wake. We kicked children out of our country. Dreamers. We turned away those who were in desperate need of refuge. Life (at least in the U.S.) is becoming increasingly difficult, unaffordable as we give tax cuts to the ultra-wealthy and spit on the poor. Disabled activists were dragged from their wheelchairs in handcuffs for peacefully protesting against dramatic and life-threatening cuts to the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and ACA (Affordable Care Act). Flat-earthers and climate change deniers are now a common thing. And honestly, that's just scratching the surface.
But if I think about it, I did embrace my little intention through it all. I got bolder. I stopped giving any fucks what people thought of me, what I believe, how I lived my life. I began to speak out, march, protest, educate, and advocate without any fear or trepidation. Empowered. Bold. True to who I am and what I believe. I spoke out for people with disabilities. I educated people about the importance of the ADA and ACA alike. I never thought I'd be someone who would stare down white supremacists at a rally, but I did. I never thought I would (have to) march in support of embracing scientifically sound policy in our government. But I did. I never thought I would tell several someone's close to me that I love them, but their behavior is hurtful, toxic, abusive and I'm not taking it anymore... then walk away. Cool, calm, collected, done. I never thought I would send a letter to someone I admire and tell them how much they mean to me. I never thought I could be emotionally open with someone. I never thought I would write a blog like this, with extreme transparency and honesty about everything from my feelings, to my love life and work life, to the nitty-gritty of living with disabilities and mental health struggles, and everything in between. But you know what? All of it has been good. And it's all been really fucking hard! And I thought it was going to break me more than once. I wanted to quit everything several times. And I thought I couldn't possibly hurt more than I did. And I wouldn't change a goddamn thing, because in the end, scars and all, I feel like I am more honestly, strongly, beautifully, badassedly me than I have ever been. A genuine article, flaws and all.
So looking forward, I try not to think "what changes do I want to make?" Because then you get answers like "I'd love to drop 10 pounds" or "I want to make more money" or "I want to meet someone special." That's all well and good, but it doesn't resonate with me. It's too... specific? It doesn't leave wiggle room for things to be different than exactly what you pictured. It also doesn't leave room for the universe (or whatever you want to call it) to blow your freaking mind with how incredible you can be! Why limit it? I prefer to look at who I am, who I was, and who I want to be. Stronger. Kinder. More compassionate. Gentler. Tougher. More humble. But also fiercer. More tenacious. A force to be reckoned with! And I don't think those things are mutually exclusive. I don't think that, in order to be a world-changer, you have to be heartless. Nor do I believe that being gentle and kind equates to being a pushover and unaccomplished. I think I can be both. I think I can be both a scientist and an artist. Spiritual and logical. Grounded and ethereal. Strong and gentle. Joyful and depressed. In pain and living fully. Struggling but not broken or resigned. Completely amazing and completely flawed and forever learning.
So this year I want to delve into and embrace the idea of nonduality. I don't have to choose a thing to be, and in such sacrifice all other things. I'm so tired of limiting myself. I spent so much of my life having to be something specific. Growing up I was frequently told that I really wasn't the pretty one, so I embraced being the smart one instead. With my ex, he was the smart one, and because I wasn't as smart as him or geared the same way, I couldn't be that. So I was an artist. My sister was the strong one, so I was the sensitive one. In recent years I've been a scientist, not a writer or an artist. When I was first battling my health issues, I was sick, hopeless, and broken. Therefore I couldn't be strong, inspired, and hopeful. Now I am still disabled, so I can't live wildly! I'm a woman, so I am to be feminine. I have tattoos, so I shouldn't wear dresses. I ride a motorcycle, so I can't be delicate or gentle. WHAT THE FUCK, Y'ALL?! That's insane on the face of it! But these little things creep into our psyche, telling us who we can and cannot be, dictating how we move forward in our lives. Well, 2018 is my year to examine nonduality, openness, and start taking baby steps to overcome that wicked dichotomy.
I'm done living with limitations, and so this year, with every choice I make, I want to examine the duality of the situation. Can I be a stoic and an emotionally sensitive person? A strong, independent woman and a hopeless romantic? An introvert and enjoy supporting my friends? Deeply loving and still cut out unhealthy relationships? Move forward, upward, towards enlightenment and still falter and screw up? Bare my soul (and my skin) and still be respectable? Fuck yes I can! Becuase life is too short, to miraculously complex for either-or. I can be a kind, compassionate, caring woman who swears and likes action films and drinks bourbon neat. I can rock my tattoos, combat boots, and dresses. I can be in pain and still climb mountains. I can be a private person and still write openly about my life. I can live without dualistic constructs confining my spirit.
So here I go. I'm keeping a journal on the side (and maybe I'll share some on here) to evaluate my journey. I'm picking up some great books to give me insight into some new perspectives. And I'm just doing my best to live honestly, authentically (see? Last year worked!), and fully. With kindness and ferocity. Watch out, this year is going to be earth shattering!