Category Archives: Triumphs of Self

On The Art of (Un)Learning

I am one of the millions of people the Western model of education has failed. When talking about Myer-Briggs classification of Jungian personality types, I come out to INFP (Introverted, iNtutive, Feeler, Perceiver). This is not important except for a few quick facts I would like to mention.

1. INFP is one of the rarest of the 16 personality combinations. It is also the personality type that has the greatest amount of gifted people.

2. It is not until later in life this giftedness is realized. In fact, I think as a type in general, we are all late at seeing the unique things we bring to the table. The Western model of education (especially since the passage of No Child Left Behind in America) relies heavily on standardized testing. We do not do well on tests. (This is something that is general of most Introverts of any type). It is not until we develop life experiences outside the classroom that we find our gifts.

I did not understand myself for much of my life so far, and many others have had a hard time understanding me as well. I thought I was certifiably crazy until I picked up this book a few weeks ago:

The problem was not that I was crazy. The problem is that I am an introvert living in an extrovert world, and since I was different, I automatically assumed something was terribly wrong with me. Now I understand myself, and realize that I am not crazy at all. This book was not the only thing I picked up. I also managed to pick up a copy O Magazine.

O Magazine, Feb. 2012

I was drawn to the cover.

When it comes to my schooling, I will admit I have been quite the slacker. Both due to the fact that I do not learn in the way most of my educators have presented material to me and also because I felt I was stupid, and therefore should not try. There were other reasons too, but these are the main two. It wasn’t until I found myself in grad school that I started to think maybe I wasn’t so stupid after all, and maybe if I could figure out what I really wanted to study and do with life, school would be fun again.

Shout out to my grad school, which has saved my life in so many ways.

Over the course of a year and a half, I have started enjoying school, and life again. I realize now that what I had to do was unlearn much about what I knew. I have recently unlearned a lot by reading The Introvert Advantage. I have unlearned from many other sources as well. My life has often progressed topsy-turvy and backwards, but for me, it has been the only way that has made any sense.

With all these things I have talked about so far in mind, imagine the smile of my soul when I came across this page while flipping through O magazine:

The text is hard to read in this picture, but it simple reads: “I decided to start anew, to strip away what I had been taught. -Georgia O’Keefe.” Meditate on this thought for a minute. On starting over by stripping away what one has been taught.

Only minutes later, I found myself wasting time on

While doing so, I came across this pin:

This is the heart of what I wanted to say in this post. I don’t agree necessarily  that the future is unwritten. In many ways, it has already been carved out. The thought occurred to me, however, the the future can be changed. The way to do this is by unwriting it, and to unwrite it, we must start anew, stripping away what we have been taught.

INFP’s are called the Idealist Healers. We are a set of people who wish to change the world for the better and often, each in our own way, do. I wish to do so, but before I can, I must unlearn to unwrite. After that, I will have a blank page on which to create the world how I wish it to be.

So I leave you with this final thought: What do you need to unlearn in order to unwrite the future that is waiting for you in order to have a clean page on which to write the future you wish to create?

 

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On the Future of Social Justice

I know there are many reasons why people blog. My reason has always been that I have so much going on in my head, so many ideas, that I just needed to share them with someone. With you, my readers. I have remained silent for a long time, not for a lack of things to share. Something else. I don’t know what to label it, but a few moments ago, I had an idea. Remember, it is just that, an idea. I knew immediately that in order to flesh it out, I would need to write about it. I also knew if I wanted to discuss, and heaven forbid, ever act on this, I would need to share it with others. This is why I have made my (hopefully triumphant) return to blogging.

I realize that those of you reading this are expecting me to talk about social justice, and I will, but I couldn’t start there. I need to talk about a few other (seemingly arbitrary, but hopefully, in the end, clarifying) things first.

I went to the library today. Books have always been a huge part of my life (and always will). While I went in with a list of a few books that I planed on picking up, I of course got more than I was bargaining for. In a recent conversation with my friend Rickk, we were discussing the way  in which cover art for a book sometimes acts as a (positive) catalyst for picking up and reading books that one had no intention of reading otherwise.  When I found myself once again at the library, I had my book list in hand. I went in for three books, but came out with four. When I went to pick up one of the books, I noticed another volume, a few spines over, that caught my eye. It was the bright cover art that made me take notice, although once I pulled it out of the line-up, I was greeted by a title I was familiar with.

I had never read this book before, but the familiarity came from the fact I have already liked it on Facebook, and have for some time. I loved the concept and so thought that a day might come around when I would make contact with this book. Turns out that day was today. I had just finished reading Robert Silverberg’s Book The World Inside. (This is the book the sparked the cover art discussion between Rickk and me in the first place).

The World Inside

Rickk's Copy

I was in need of something else to read, so I decided to read Slanted and Enchanted next. I have not finished the book, nor am I far into it. The reason is that it gave me an idea and I decided I needed to blog instead.

For those of you reading who don’t know much about me, I am earning (and I do mean EARNING) my IMA (Individualized Master’s of Arts) at Goddard College. I study sex trafficking in social consciousness and explore new ways of thinking about sex trafficking (in hopes of developing my own discourse on alternative ways to think and act on the subject). Right now, sex trafficking (as part of human trafficking as a whole) is very much part of the zeitgeist that is America right now. This means that much of what is being done is by people in government and not for profits. This is good, and my suggestion is not that this stop. My other thought has been, another major part of the zeitgeist of the past few months has been the Occupy movements. More and more people are fed up with the mainstream and the corporate. The most untapped resource in America right now are the “indie” people. This group is growing by the day, and encompasses such a wide variety of people. It reasons that whatever they do get behind is bound to take off. As aforementioned, I am not suggesting that this no longer be a mainstream issue, I am suggesting that issues of social justice in general need to also become part of the current independent movements.

While I do have a particular heart and interest when it comes to sex trafficking, I think this is a smart move for all types of social justice everywhere. What I am not going to do is offer solutions about how to make this happen. I have an idea, but I don’t have an answer. If you reading this have suggestions or ideas, PLEASE let me know! Leave a comment in the comments section! I will also list personal contact information for myself at the bottom of the post.

Liberation and the meaning of Independence

On a related topic, and one that I think fits nicely here (as I certainly do not have enough fodder for it yet to consider making it an independent post) is the connection between what I call a rouge economy and reintegration. While I was also at the library this trip, I picked up and flipped through a copy of Wired magazine. I found an interesting article by Robert Capps titled “Why Black Market Entrepreneurs Matter to the World Economy.” In this interview with Robert Neuwirth, a journalist, Neuwirth asserts that “If System D [Neuwirth’s name for the black market] were a country, it would have the second-largest economy on earth, after the United States.” This is major. I also agree with Neuwirth that this is also a huge untapped area that needs to be tapped. One of the major issues when it comes to rescuing and rehabilitating sex trafficking victims is finding them a new role (read livelihood). This is especially crucial outside of the United States where there are less opportunities for sex trafficking’s overwhelmingly female victims.

In thier book Half the Sky, Kristof and WuDunn use this concept. In one of their stories about recusing a particular trafficking victim, they set her up with a stall and some merchandise in her local village bizarre as means of a business start up. According to them, she has been successful.

Half The SkyThis is where I leave you, me, us. Back at the beginning, with this idea. Let’s figure out how to marry independent culture, the new occupy uprisings and social justice.

Support Indie Art!

All pictures and hyperlinks should link to appropriate pages to find out more about the noun it represents. As always, support indepdent people. Start by supporting independent art. My friend Rickk‘s art can be found here: http://sickkness.deviantart.com/

Also, if anyone has any ideas, questions, etc… that they do not wish to leave in the comments sections, you can reach me here:

sedthestealth@gmail.com     http://www.facebook.com/sedoflove

On Self and Imitation

I want to thank Sherri Martin, without whom this blog post would not exist. I have, for reasons I am not quite sure of, put off writing this post for quite some time. I have thought about it much, even discussed it with a few people, but have not brought myself to compiling a post and sharing it. Before getting into the heart of the matter, I would like to share Sherri’s observation. Everything I am about to share goes back to this.

“While driving through Cincinnati one day last week, a billboard caught my attention. A man’s coming to Riverbend that impersonates Elton John… I can’t shake the feeling of sadness for a man who is a professional… at being someone else. I wish I could remember his name… the poster child for a universal problem.” -Sherri Martin (Facebook, 07/04/11).

I have spent much time, as I am sure most of you reading this have, trying to figure myself out. People are complicated, wondrous, beautiful messes. Part of this journey, I am convinced, is this exploration of who one is. No species that I am aware of, has any fully cognitive concept of what they are, but humans are the only one’s who have the ability to know and wonder at this. I keep feeling my gnosis, the intuition of every cell of my body, telling me to simplify. The Holy Spirit is communicating this through each fiber of my being. I long for a time when life was simple. I want to go back to the garden.

Since it has not been afforded to humanity after the first beings to have the option of a less complicated life, I keep coming back to this question. When all else is stripped away, who am I? Not who I should be or who I would like to be. I have spent too much of my life living like a impersonator, trying to be someone I’m not. What an insult to God. Is His divine creativity not enough to create a wonderful, individual, me created in His image?

I have the privilege of currently going to a Grad school that requires each person to write an essay during the course of each semester on their identity. I have recently submitted mine. It is always a strange thing to write this essay, and when I was writing it at the end of the last semester, I could have never imagined how much it would change in the span of some 6 or so months. Writing it this time was eye-opening. I am very introspective and self-reflective, but to have to put it down and release it into the world, first to only an advisor and a friend, but now to anyone who should want to read it, proves not to be an easy move. Here is me on paper. This is who I am behind everything else I hide behind.

On an Identity Essay

Who am I? This is a question simple enough, although it is one that also plagues many, myself among the ranks. That is the question behind the topic of an Identity essay. Surely, that is what is being implied, but how can I answer that question? Who am I when? Or is it more the question how do I see and/or perceive myself? That question is difficult too and certainly would be followed by my wondering as to what day, time, very breath I take is this referring, because it really does change that often. By the time I am done writing this paragraph I will have changed my perception on any number of things about myself and who I am, and to tell the truth, most of this will not even come on a cognitive level. It will not even register anywhere near the forefront of my consciousness, and the best attempt I have at retrieving it would be to go through some intense introspection when I have some privacy (certainly not in the confounds of this essay), but by then it will be buried under so many things it would be almost fruitless and certainly treacherous and not worth my time to go back in to find. So where is this concept of identity getting me? While I am seemingly deflecting the question(s) implied, what am I hiding, because if I cannot come out and start sharing with whomever may read this when it is finished, both now and over the span of the life of this essay, I must be hiding something, right? Or what if I have nothing to hide? What if that is the real problem? I want to be mysterious, to have some kind of great deepness of mysterious, muddled darkness about me when everything I am is translucent? To put it in terms that are familiar with the people of where I live (I will interject here that I come from the land that was once the home of the Miami Indian tribe, now of Oklahoma, and these terms are in their language), what if I want to be Talawanda (cloudy water) when I am really Sandusky (clear water)? Then again, who is to say that this is the problem I have at all?
It is in this back and forth of questions and meanings that are at constant war within me, even when I am not trying to express any certain facet, much less the entirety of myself, with some form of other, when I had a discussion with some of the people who know me best. Although one has known me longer than the other, in the grand scheme of my life, neither has known me entirely that long, and by know me, I mean to know of and participate in my existence. These two, however, are among perhaps the only people I would trust to really tell me much of anything about myself, in general, although there are few exceptions, and so a conversation was birthed. How does one know who they really are as who they are is constantly changing? I have oft pondered this, and have circled back to my earlier assessment of what exact moment does one want to know of my identity? This is where I finally came to the conclusion that I cannot talk about identify as a finite thing, although there are some parts of it that are unyielding and unchanging, and I am fine with that. As a whole concept or entity, however one chooses to see it, there are some broad things I can comfortably talk about in relation to the essence of my being. Some lessons that seem to be true and some more universal while others are more personal. Thus what follows is what I learned while trying to construct some sort of identity essay about who I think I may be at any given moment in time.

I AM FLUID

Well, for the most part at least. This is universally true I believe, although there may be certain mental handicaps that would prevent this from being an absolutely universal statement. I have covered this much in my introduction, but will expound upon it slightly more here. There is a great line in the song “Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve that often sticks with me. The line simply states, “I’m a million different people from one day to the next.” I like this statement, although it is broad, and in a minute, I will seemingly contradict that notion, although I will then explain how it is in fact not a contradiction, but how it and the this concept are in fact related. This came up in the conversation I mentioned earlier. Who one is, at least in how one plays their part (which brings up the question is identity a performance, or is it who one is when he or she is not performing?) changes depending not only on the performer, but the audience for whom one performs. This adds to the notion that identity is fluid (although contingent on the idea that performance for others also plays into identity, which I will assume for sake of argument). The other way that identity is fluid is that, at least for myself, and seems to be the consensus among those with whom I have conversed on the subject, that the inner essence of being also changes. There are many reasons for these changes: age and maturity, more or new information, experience and any other number of factors. I am not the same person who I was when I was five, although there are a long list of many interdependent factors as to why that is true, but I am not the same person I was a few hours ago, I am certainly not the person I was a few weeks ago. Next week I hope I am different, and for the better, than I am today writing this. Identity is fluid. I am fluid. I change and my identity changes with me.

I AM DEEPLY ROOTED

Although I am fluid and am undergoing change, I am also in many ways deeply rooted. While the part of me that is seen, the part that is above the surface, so to speak, is fluid, moveable, changing, my roots are deeply planted. From some core things, ideas, ways of being, nothing can shake me. I have one friend who calls me tree because of this. There is a saying that I love, “don’t be so open-minded that your brains fall out.” Now, this is used many times against there being any open-mindedness in a person, and I am open to many things. I have, however, also had periods in my life, and mostly, I would say now, because I really did not know who I was (although this is not exactly true. It was a more testing of my roots against the winds of change that were viciously whipping against my fluid trunk in which I was swaying so hard almost to the point of breaking). I was the person this saying was warning against. My mind was so open that there was no room for conviction. I was on whatever side of any given issue that I felt the person who I was talking to was on. This was, however, not just for the sake of performance, or to suck up to people. Genuinely, I was so unsure of who I was and what I believed that my worldview would change depending on who I was with at any given moment. What really has helped, however, is as much as I am like a tree, I am also like a hawk. I posses high levels of introspection and like to think that I have keen observation skills of the world around me that allow me to think differently and be differently than other people. This is what eventually allowed me to pull myself out of the pit of too much open-mindedness. Now, I have struck a balance. There are the root issues, the things I will not bend or waiver on and then there are the trunk issues that, given a well put together argument, I may be persuaded to change my mind about.

I AM A CHILD OF GOD

Though I list this last, this is the most important distinction I can make. Even deep roots can be uprooted and trunks can snap when harsh winds come, but this is a truth that abides forever. There is nothing that I have written in this essay, or anywhere else in any paper in my life that is not under jurisdiction to this fact. I thought for a while about not including it. The biggest reason is that being a Christian is not one of the most popular distinctions one can have many times in life, and in many cases, for well warranted reasons. What I cannot do is be the official spokesperson for every Christian of every persuasion who ever lived and to make amends for the horrible things that have been done to any number of people and things done unjustly in the name of God or Jesus. I do not have that kind of time on earth, nor do I feel that is what I am being called to do. What I can do is live my life in such a way that it makes other people have to rethink their popular misconceptions of Christians. This is the core of the core. To take a line from e.e. cummings, “Here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide…” This is my identity, who I am, who I always will be, and the core of me, no matter where the roots may spread and the branches may sway.

In the end, this is all I know that I know that I can say. To borrow a line from Oprah, this is what I know for sure:

I, Seddy Bear, am, always have been and henceforth will be a

HUMAN BEING.

My wonderful friend, Tiffany Beard (http://timobe.com) once again reminded me of something in her brilliance. She brought up a scene from Alice Walker’s Temple of my Familiar in which one beatitude that was created was, “Blessed are those who know.” I have thought much about this. If I were writing my own beatitude, it would be a Shakespearean mash-up: “Know thyself and to thine own self be true.” And thus, the challenge I present to you. Spend some time, perhaps a little each day, getting to know yourself, and never stop knowing yourself. Don’t smack God in the face and cheat yourself out of the beauty that is this brief vapor of life, by trying to be someone other than you.

Check out Tiffany’s essay, “30 Day$- Journaling and My Relationship with Money” here: http://www.createwritenow.com/journal-writing-blog/bid/56724/30-Day-Journaling-and-My-Relationship-With-Money

This post is dedicated to Sherri Martin, Tiffany Beard, and all of those who know.

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