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“Many of us seek community solely to escape the fear of being alone. Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.” 
― Bell Hooks

A few cherished moments of alone illustrated from the DDFS Malaysia tour. 

Here we are. 


As the world continues to unfold it's delicate and tender petals, as our hearts rage on, as we wake up each day unsure of how to be alive in this painful universe, I am reflecting on where my own pain has boiled up. At the root of the pain of a broken country, at the root of the pain of injustice, at the root of myself was myself - and my deep psychological, survival-oriented need for togetherness. My fears are centered around separateness. The profound fear of being deeply alone. 
 

As I sat with a new friend this week, we unraveled the concept of imminence - the knowledge that where I end and you begin is an illusion of the psyche. 


And yet, without boundaries, we would cease to be identifiable, to have a name, to have love. What is "real" is fluid and permeable, subject to laws of gravity and human-invented boundaries, borders and labels. On a large lens, it is dauntingly arbitrary, but on a daily level, it is rigidly real. Identity can be a point of pride, a centering compass, and a vast wall put up between us and others. It is one of the stickiest parts of humanity, offering us both grounding and togetherness, as well as fear and separation. 


Driven into despair over how we communicate in a digital age, how our aloneness becomes pronounced - an unhealthy alone versus a considered, full alone - I got off Facebook.


My personal page has been merged permanently with my public page, which means I can still post (though to see them, you may want to click "get notifications" from the drop down menu here, come join me!) - but will not see a feed. Facebook's noise, emotions, posturing and shaming was crushing what is still intact of my alive heart. It became a way to post my declarations instead of considering my own real life, actionable contributions - creating another wormhole for distraction. 
 

Join me in my new considered FB by clicking here: 
 

 

Below is a small essay about what happens when we are influenced by the masses - even digitally - and don't have enough sacred, quiet space to process the heat of the world. We mess up. Join me in vulnerability and read about my own mistakes: 
 

Love Is Not A Facebook Post:

Relationship and race dynamics in an age of social mania

By Caits Meissner

Coming back to America from a poetry and facilitation tour in Malaysia on the heels of the Michael Brown case, I felt rife with dread. Culling social media obsessively on the 30 hours of air travel, my emotions spiraled, firing on a lack of sleep, the high from a whirlwind experience and the pending doom of what was bubbling in New York City. What I felt, in the middle of stuckness halfway around the work in a Tokyo airport, was a need in the wake of the acquittal of Darren Wilson to address every fellow White person claiming, "I can't be racist, I have Black friends!" I felt it my duty, greasy and exhausted, to add my voice to the fold, and as fast as possible.

What came out in a short burst of ill-formed characters was, "As a white woman married to a black man, I am everything you wonder about," followed by a vague statement about the personal and the political living closely together. The truth is I don't know what I wrote. I deleted the Tweet. Friends approached me with pain and questions. Shame rose in the face of their reflections at how self righteous, how strangely armored my declaration sounded. I couldn't hide behind my self-proclaimed ethics any longer.

Here is what I thought I meant: To offer an honest, complex illustration of being white in a relationship with a person of color during these times. That through this partnership, I am not handed a “get out of racism free” card,  I am not exempt from the work internally, even within sacred space. My intention was to reveal the enlightened plateau doesn’t exist, but serves as a metaphorical calling to engage the work where it is most personal and therefore, most tender. I wanted to share that I, too, hold all the difficult narratives in this casing and must be awake to it. That our bodies, and our privileges, cultural weaknesses and learned behaviors, follow us everywhere. Even into the kitchen, the bathroom and the bed we sleep in.

Here is the problem with social media: Amidst the noise, the  bombardment of articles, inflamed emotions and charges of who can speak and who can't, the desire to respond comes more quickly than clarity. In a landscape that is evolving faster than our thoughts, the pitfalls and dangers of negligent expression magnify. To avoid becoming the target of an attack, we shut out, shut down or turn up responses for a number of real, but complex reasons: to prove our "rightness," to assuage our guilt, to massage our ego, and at best, to speak out about a debilitating injustice. Social media is a land mine of hurt people engaging a shallow validation machine to minimize pain and aloneness, find connection and rid our bodies of  demons, despair and anger. Our dialogues become flattened, robbed of the nuance that real conversation asks us for. The need for a platform is obvious, but when we add the phenomenon of "likes," to the equation, how honest can we be? Spurred on by who is in solidarity with our posts, subconsciously, our content begins to take the shape of what our audience is seeking.

Here is the problem with me: Intention is not enough. When I peered below the surface, a reflection of everything I feared swam in the murky waters. This post didn't implicate me in an way that was vulnerably revealing, but used my most trusted and loved person as a prop in my platform. There was a hidden motivate at work, scrambling to prove that I am one of the chosen, Black-friendly White voices. Flexing my language and the knowledge gained from communities that taught me, there was my plain, insidious need to produce evidence of understanding the issue at hand, and with a complexity other's could revere me for. Before I could be counted among the targeted White voice, the oppressor's voice, I had to quickly point myself out as inherently oppressive. The impulse is akin to drawing a sword before the fight begins and thrusting it through one’s own chest. Perhaps some sympathy will distract the mob - the spattering of blood. Instead of an act of selfless, honest bravery, this single Tweet was perhaps the most cowardly way to engage - and in 140 characters, no less. Was I aware of all this when posting? On some level, yes. But it is the buried motives that are most alarming when uncovered. We see ourselves for who we really are.

In the end, it turned out the "you" I was addressing was aimed at myself. The quiet work of being in any partnership is a sacred space. The quiet work of being in a partnership is where we contend with the most beautiful - and ugliest forms of our own psyche. As I sunk into despair over this discovery, the same root emotion that spun out the misguided Tweet in the first place, my husband rallied me out of foolish self pity. Now is the time to really get honest, to examine our motives in sharing publicly. Now is the time to fess up, share, reveal, take a hard look in the mirror, and then, when the sun falls on the bitter day, to cherish what is sacred, turn down the noise, gather our loved ones close, turn down the lights and close the door.

 
So what now? Can we still function within social media authentically? The mantra and question I am trying to follow when it comes to social media, perhaps starting now, is to examine motivation - 
 

"Is it kind, is is necessary, does it improve upon the silence?"
- Sai Baba

 
My modern era questions might look more like: is it informative, does it contribute, is it beautiful, does it uplift another's voice, am I hurting or exploiting, am I posturing or proving, am I ultimately honest, am I balancing my online declarations with real life work, am I shaming as my method of activism or am I engaging with love and truth? 
 
I urge us all to think about our underlying motivations and the way social media can both bolster and hurt our hearts, relationships and actions. I also urge us to consider the ways we spend our time alone, what feeds us spiritually, intellectually and emotionally, and how to find sacred space among the heavy noise. 

If you are looking for a place to deeply commune with self, within a brave community, consider joining the Digging Deep, Facing Self course beginning January 5th. We have a spot for you. 

<3 Caits
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