Friday, February 14, 2014

Ways I Love

Love, not Fear.

I first thought of other people's fear, but then thought that what I really wanted to blog about was self-fear. Fear of the world, fear of the politics, fear of all the hate, fear of other people, fear of being judged.

Image description: Text on red background with heart design. Text reads: Flashblog Love Not Fear, presented by Boycott Autism Speaks. Submit your: poetry, essay art, photography, etc. by February 13 @ 12PM EST email to:info at inside the heart design is the hashtag #posAutive
So I'm a day late, whatever. I have never participated before in a Flashblog. I can always post on twitter.

I don't know what to write that would affect other people's fear. But understanding fosters love, so I guess starting there is something.

Someone wrote (paraphrasing) that the big loss that autism brought [them] was never being able to hear "I love you" from their child. What's interesting about that is how much that didn't really say anything about autism itself. Maybe it says something about how much fear there is about the myriad of other ways, aside from words, in which one can say I love you. I don't judge this comment, although it feels attached to so much sadness. #LovenotFear means that harsh commentary on them is a move away from love. I'd rather try for understanding. Are words the only way to say I love you?

There is sign language.
Stimming on your beard may be one way to say I love you.
Showing my favorite toy for a moment is another way to say I love you.
Talking to you a lot about what I care about is sharing myself, and a way to say I love you.
Putting my head in your hand is a way to say I love you.
There are many more.
There IS love. Do you see it? Do you feel it?

Except I fear myself. I fear myself going out into the world and being judged as less than or wrong, because I think, behave or look different from an expectation I didn't create. If the clothing I need to wear in order to focus on being a part of the world is "odd", I want to be able to love that and for that to be okay.

"People" share that tired wisdom that one must love oneself before anyone else will.

I think we learn very young how to love ourselves, from others. So really, we don't do this by ourselves. We can't love ourselves, despite the whole world telling us that is an illegitimate love. We have to love each other, it's the only way through.

So love the quirks, love the struggle, love the odd, love the difficult, love the strange, love the frenetic, love all the ways the souls around you manifest in the world, however it is they manifest.

Someone said to me recently, that they loved how honest I was because I didn't say something pat or glossy about where our lives are at right now. That's love. That is recognizing the humanity in another. It may seem tiny, but that's what love is built on. Those tiny acts of acceptance, recognition, of being with, that allow the full range of what it means to be human into our world.

Love, not fear. Open your heart wide, because there's a lot more ways to say I love you.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Nothing is a Waste

I originally unloaded this as a post on Facebook, after reading one too many comments on there and twitter about Phillip Seymour Hoffman's death including the phrase "what a waste". This phrase is a big huge trigger for me. So I wrote about it.


Back in the 90s, I remember having more than one conversation (or argument) with women who would see a really attractive gay man and say, "what a waste". And I would ask, "Why, exactly??" What is wasted about a gay person? Is it your assumption that they are "opting out of the gene pool"? Are you just lusting and it's a way to offload your aggression/frustration about it? Because what a waste they can't have babies (which we now know isn't even an accurate assumption)? I think the people who would say this truly thought their comments were innocuous. Like that there was nothing wrong with saying it (even that it was said in jest). To my knowledge people don't say this anymore, but I wouldn't be surprised if this context still existed.

When someone comments on the death of a famous person, or any individual who died "too soon", for reasons of their own cause or by another's hand and says "what a waste of a life", I am filled with a kind of rage I don't know what to do with. What makes for a waste of a life? Are people dying of bad drugs in mental hospitals a waste of a life? Is someone dying at 25 of a terminal disability a waste of a life? Regardless of what a person did in the time they had here, nothing they already did is wasted. They haven't done what they haven't done, so it's impossible to say what could have been. Is the death of a famous person worse than the death of a different drug addict, or an unknown talented person? Is it a waste because of how they died? What about people who die too soon because they eat food that kills them? Do we say that about them? Is the waste about the content, or what hasn't happened yet? Are people projecting their own regrets and sense of fragility of life? 

I know that calling gay people "a waste" isn't the same as calling the death of someone who overdosed "a waste", but something in the sentiment triggers for me the same kind of anger, even rage, about the assumptions and judgments we make about people and actions, and class, and race, and disability, and human life.. all kinds of things that are bound up in those few words. 

Marilyn Monroe, Amy Winehouse, Kurt Kobain, Janis Joplin, Vincent Van Gogh, countless others known and unknown, just now, P.S.H. -- You may think saying "what a waste of a life" is a way of saying that they were so valuable and you are so disappointed that they are not going to have impact beyond their death (but even that is untrue, just look at the list above). None of them were a waste for having been on this earth, contributed what they have, experienced and loved and been loved. 

No one is a waste, and everyone is valuable. Underlying the phrase "what a waste" is a very unexamined connotation to the value/lack of value in any given human life. Yes, precisely -- the opposite of what you might think you're trying to express. Thanks for listening and considering.

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