Sunday, June 24, 2007

Reflections #2

I came to the bay area alone. I leave the bay area alone. Packing alone, cleaning out my Oakland apartment alone, seeing myself off. I guess I didn’t come here so much to develop roots, although in some fundamental way this occurred. I came to really understand what roots are. It is a hard lesson to learn. I came to love so many people in the bay area and I learned more about myself by loving these people. I cannot move on without making note of this. Otherwise the pain, struggle, and tears would have been in vain. Although we won’t be living or working within the same physical community, there are very few loved ones who are deeply rooted in my heart for life.
I have learned the importance of loyalty. Being loyal and learning to identify and appreciate those who are loyal are essential to building fam. Loyalty is a major aspect of how a person’s character is determined. Loyalty is defined by the ability to be consistently reliable in their word and action. A loyal person is selfless, yet not foolish. A loyal person does not express companionship only when it is convenient, but understands the importance of sacrifice and giving in moments of need by another. A loyal person who is wise does choose carefully who is considered a loved one, but does not fool others into companionship under the pretense of friendship. A loyal person respects the time, energy, and effort it takes to build trust, and does not allow others to invest in something that does not or will not exist. I am still learning how to identify those who are loyal, and those who seek superficial companionship. Patience, time, and trials are determining factors. So are a person's actions. How do I seek deeply rooted friendships without involving myself in risk, without allowing myself to become vulnerable? I don’t know if there’s a way. And perhaps this is why I’ve found myself alone for most of my life, why I seem to overcome most obstacles that push me to the very edge of life itself- alone. Somehow this strength is a mystery. If it weren’t for purpose- a purpose for living- I wouldn’t have my life.
My faith lies not in religion, but in purpose. Purpose is a spiritual concept. I know that there are meaningful reasons for having come across the people in my life, the conflicts I have encountered, the blessings I have embraced, and the pain I have learned from. I find it truly a miracle to continue to be alive- to choose life. Without purpose there would be no living- only meaningless pain, destruction, disaster, and undermined luck. But with purpose, I am understanding the depth in every course life has taken me, and I choose to find the courage to learn from it- even when it could be easy to give into emotional sway and say “fuck the world” sometimes. So every conflict, no matter how ugly it is, is a jewel- an opportunity to grow and become stronger, to understand the meaning of overcoming.
Life is a war. The victory in each battle is to see where love is hidden and develop a knowledge of self. Understanding the act of loving others and myself in a colonized world is the most challenging aspect of this war. Because so many aspects of colonization are deeply engrained in each of us, the way we develop relationships with others, and how we choose to go about the course of our lives, loving is a decolonizing process in itself. Once I began to see that, I realized the different ways that love can manifest itself in a twisted world. Love with no trust. Love with anger. There are people today who I love, feel a sense of loyalty and respect towards, yet maintain a distance from. Some of them may not know that I love them and recognize their beauty. They may not know that despite their trespasses against my trust, there is still a love that exists despite what I may want to feel.
A deeply rooted relationship then consists of an appreciation and loyalty toward that love- but also toward trust. I may love those who have disrespected me, but developing roots cannot occur in a relationship where respect is lacking. My challenge then is to seek wholesome relationships that contain all the qualities necessary to become sustainable- loyalty, trust, respect, and love. I believe I have grown to understand the weight of such an investment, and so I must invest wisely. I have also understood that I have to expect from myself what I expect in others. I have to be conscious of my own actions as well.

Reflections #1

An incomplete entry I wrote on my first flight to Rochester to go apartment hunting…

While on the plane flying towards my first trip to Rochester NY, where I will be attending grad school for the next year I took the time to reflect on a lot of things. One of the greatest things about 5 hour flights is having that time where we are forced to slow down. But this flight in particular is important. I’m been in the Bay Area since Sept 10, 2001, and it finally hit me that I’m about to physically leave behind the people, places, and cultural elements that have profoundly shaped my sense of humanity, identity, and knowledge of self, for life. I could write a book about these 6 precious years of my life; but I find particularly significant the last two years. Reflection is important for a number of things. It helps me develop and improve as a person in this world, as a spirit going through a journey of self-actualization and holistic growth, and it validates and gives concrete meaning to the lessons I’ve learned (and have yet to learn) so that when similar situations present themselves I’ll be able to identify a frame of reference much more easily.

Humility: Always stay self-critical. Of course many people could read this and agree that it is a great thing to be. But I’ve encountered situations where I’ve lacked humility and stagnated my own growth. I’ve finally come face to face with the significance of this principle and how this self-checking mechanism also develops the character and maturity of individuals. Humility also helps me become better at being myself; better at anything I practice, better at developing relationships with others, better at assessing any situation. Humility allows me to be honest with myself and develop knowledge of self. Humility is a spiritual principle as well. It allows me to ask whether I’m being true to the spiritual journey I have accepted to take and whether I’m moving in the right direction.

Character over reputation.: This is a principle adopted by one of my mentors. Although I believe it’s geared towards self-reflection, to me it’s is particularly significant in developing relationships with others both in personal intimate situations, but also in assessing people who stand out as leaders within the movement for social change and justice for oppressed folks. As a developing educator that views my line of work as developing a world of critical thinkers, I tend to look out to others who are more experienced, actualized, and successful leaders in education. It isn’t enough to judge a person by the accomplishments they’ve been recognized for. I’m the type of person who a lot of the time learns the hard way: by fuckin up, big time. I’ve been seriously wronged by attempting to develop intimate relationships with others, trusting that their character (what they do when nobody is looking) will coincide with the work that they have been recognized for. I’ve also blindly trusted my judgments upon people based on their relationships with others I trust. It takes a lot of time and close evaluation of others before feeling like I can begin to develop a relationship with them. It’s a dangerous thing to place somebody in a bubble of romanticized greatness as many do with revolutionary leaders like Che Guevara, Malcolm X, and Toussaint L’overature. All of these people have been brave enough to take risks to defend humanity, but they’ve also had their share of human faults. I think this is a lot easier said than done, and so my goal is to be conscious about the reasons I choose to trust others.

Loyalty: This is a principle I’ve been learning about all my life and each stage of my life presents itself with a more developed appreciation for this virtue. It’s always been one of the first tools I use to assess others with. At this stage in my life where I am seeking further grounding, I’ve become conscious of the importance of loyalty in developing relationships that last. Loyalty is a major quality in assessing the character of others as well as my own. It is also something I should be careful about. I can honestly say I’m usually (though not always) a person who’s loyal to a lot of people who haven’t been necessarily loyal to me. This can be a strength. It can also be a trap. There’s a serious need for me to assess who I choose to trust by evaluating their level of loyalty. Sometimes I’ve also found that people reveal themselves unexpectedly in good and bad ways by their actions around being loyal. Some have kept their loyalty after serious fallouts when I expected them not to, while others I’ve been hurt by due to their inconsistency around this principle. Assessing loyalty is a sifting mechanism- one of the ways we can make choices about who to keep near and who to keep at a distance.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What's Rochester Like??

A city I'm still tryna figure out..

Anybody who's Latino is Puerto Rican

Black folks don't head straight to the back of the bus like they do in NYC and in the Bay Area

The bus lines run about two hours apart

The ghetto is seriously dilapidated

The white suburbian areas have sprinkles of dilapidated vacancies (and dilapidated occupied houses) - I walked in the middle of a process of gentrification (in a dying city as I was told??)

White folks think the suburbs is still the city

Black folks say white folks live in the suburbs

White folks are dead scared to drive in the hood even during the day (nothin new here)

Puerto Rican folks still hang their flags outside their houses, just like they do in NYC and the Bay Area when you find them

The suburbs are flooded with USA flags, I get mean mugged on those streets (nothin new here either)

The cops disturb the peace in white neighborhoods when they're disturbing the Black folks who live in them

Most white folks have issues saying the word ghetto.. as if it were the "N" word

Renting homeowners talk about gentrification as if it was the greatest thing, and refer to the new "Boulders Coffee" on the block as a sure mark of it.. what's with coffee and gentrification??