toshi

A few notes from Toshi Reagon’s QA after the Parable of the Sower Opera, Ann Arbor, MI on March 25th, 2022.

Toshi said to “Make people cross your line.” To get so right with your beliefs and actions that “They cannot test you.” She said you can do this “By showing you’re upset with this shit.”

She said to prove “You have already shown them you are down to survive in community.” And to “Make your outrage a superpower.”

She let us know we will need to “Be in community, even in ways we don’t like.” I think this was in relation to having this or that political bent (for example), but if the food runs out, you’re going to have to figure it out. Like how Laura does in the book and opera.

Toshi talked about Joy. She said “Letting light hit our eyes is our human contribution to the world.”

She said “Everything you know is a beautiful contribution to the future.”

how far down?

fire mediation

(ego disclaimer: not boujee)

searching for peace

finding work stress

move to art output

cue identity q’s

dog knows me in full joy

no proof needed

being who i am

searching for ground

finding an animal

intention is a chance

to find the core

to rep for us

and include our loves

in the joy of a creature

who just knows

today is for sue

biking yesterday i had the experience you learn about in first aid classes but rarely see. cruising around a final corner before the bike path meets up with city streets, i came upon an elder woman lying face down on the pavement. her arms stretched out in front of her.

it’s been years since i’ve taken one of these classes but i was able to breathe and calmly approach. i asked if she could her me. she could. i asked if i could help. she said i could. i asked her name and she said sue. so i sat with sue as we slowly worked on moving her legs in a position that she typically used to stand up. we took our time as her body was clearly a bit shook from the fall. a few people asked if we were ok and i said yes. i got the vibe she didn’t want a lot of attention, and it did feel like we were doing ok. nothing more to do but slowly help sue up, given her body didn’t seem to be any more injured than a bit of road rash.

a few minutes later another person came by in a truck asking if we needed help and i accepted. they seemed like the right person to help out, someone you’d feel safe around. sue and I had been on the pavement long enough it became clear some more help might be needed. they brought a towel from their truck and we got it under sue’s arms. they coached me a bit on how to lift sue, basically the first squat i’ve done in about 5 years, and with the highest stakes, holding sue in a front hug and lifting her to her feet.

another person on a bike came by and hung out just in case. didn’t ask, just stayed present about 10 ft away. not trying to add to anything unless we needed them. it was a really respectful move in hindsight. after we got sue to her feet we stood a while before moving. she held me tightly. after a few minutes, the other person and i took sue from both sides, her hands over our shoulders, and walked the 30ft to her car across the street. we had a couple of laughs about how she had “almost made it!”

the other person who stopped said they lived in the neighborhood and could drive sue’s car home. they said they could walk home from sue’s house, which was to be about a mile away. sue accepted, so we helped her into the passenger seat of her station wagon and sue and this super kind person whose name i never got were on their way.

as i biked a bit i couldn’t help thinking that sue was just out on her walk and then suddenly needed help. i thought about my fav grace dammann quote, “if i can, i must.” i thought about all the things sue has done, all the times she’s walked that path. i thought about how short and fragile this life is. i thought, today is for sue.

while i have aging parents, friends, and relatives, this was the first time i’ve needed to help another person in this way since my time working as a caregiver 10 or so years ago. this was real. a lesson to value each breath and step. a view into the kindness that’s possible between strangers. beyond everything, we were there for sue, and she accepting of us. today is for sue. hope to see you on the path again soon <3

today is for sue
everyday is for sue
no day is for sure
not even today
but today is for sue
because we’ll have a day too
when it’s challenging to walk on the path
with courage we try
it’s what we do
we will fall too

Layers

Happy to be here now in what is now, but still looking for those little signals to stay on my path and right now they’re coming in different increments. Still fully there, just showing up differently. It’s not easier, not harder, just different.

Part of this is the external. The love and ideas are still there unchanged. It’s the outfit that’s different. The Shape they take. That part is new. And sadly, it can inhibit some of these great ideas or put them aside as something for later or a missed opportunity.

There is no later in life or anything missed. Of course we change and grow and energy levels bend and shift towards different things but we’re still here taking in signals and acting on them, for all our days.

Doing what’s feeling right. Following our hearts and paying attention. As only we can. Even our closest fam and crew can agree or disagree and it doesn’t matter.

My Dad used to put it plainly and say there’s only one person you look at in the mirror every day. Everything else is just layers. Lovely, supportive layers, but layers the same.

It’s important that the path continues. Within us. Uninhibited but not unchanged. Shaped but not thwarted. Honored completely.

if i really don’t front i _____.

got our jam board on yet again at DREAMS last night. while it was kind of a slower feeling show, it felt really wholesome too. like we connected in a nice way. a small group of people “seeing” each other online. thinking about each other. eventually pretending we were hanging at a bonfire to close it out <3 (thanks paige!)

the goal for the convo was to think deeply about what it means to do us. if i really don’t front means i’m honestly being me. and while in the past this has looked like coming up with a million fun and inspirational reasons to make art for me, i wanted us to realize part of this is being ok feeling feelings that might be less fun too.

we talked about being ok with not being ok and how some of these feelings of being bummed out are so so justifiable. like this hard thing happened to you, how could you not be feeling a bit rattled from it? wouldn’t it be strange if you didn’t feel phased at a lil bit?

part of this is looking at how society asks us to put up fronts and saying f that. i’m gonna feel this or that way and that’s ok. i’m gonna do what I need to do for me, unapologetic that it may not feed the capitalist machine so well.

i’m proud of this crew for sharing so much and leaving us with such a dope list of ways we might really not front. i hope this can be something we look at from time to time when we need a reminder to keep going.

LOVE