Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Rebuilding; or Sink/Swim

Our country desperately needs to go through a time of healing and rebuilding. The Bush presidency has left some very deep wounds which would take time or a magician to heal.

And Barack Obama is no magician. He even tells us this with his flaws and foibles. He is, after all, only human, as I must remind my eager and naive friends. He is not only human, he is a politician, and he has to win. As any good community organizer knows, you must always hold the elected officials accountable - even when they are your friends, even when they come out of community organizing.

I also want to say something about my own rebuilding process. I have not been blogging recently because I have been trying to process things in the personal arena:

How do you know when you have it all?
How do you know to be happy with what you have?
How do you maintain and grow?

Losing friends is always hard - it feels like a breakup of some sort. Good friends understand that you need time and distance to heal as well. I went through a do I call? When do I call? Does making the first move mean that I am at fault?

And what I am slowly coming to realize is that yes, I am more at fault and I need to take responsibility for that. Perhaps it was never a tenable situation because even when we were younger I never felt like we were equals. But we were. It has to do with how people perceive us - the light and the dark. The tall and the short. The loud and the reflective.

I had to grow, and so did she. Part of why it's hard is because I don't even know if she ever felt like it was unequal. (No, that's not fair.) I know she has learned from me and I from her, and that part of my lack of confidence in myself and my words actually dates back to 3 years ago when I lost respect for myself. I could cry and say that I am damaged goods because of that, irreparable. I could feign courage (and that would be a start because I am in a very defensive position and have been retreating) but I think I owe myself the honesty of saying I don't know. To somewhere somewhere where it won't hurt a loved one.

I don't know if I have the strength to change. To keep on fighting. And this is not even about -- rather, is not just about expectations. My expectations for myself, other people's expectations that I be the passionate leader and trail blazer.

It is about acknowledging that yes, things have happened in that past. Childhood memories and patterns are imprinted upon us like whisper weave gauze, filming how we see the world. Underneath, we are totally visible to the world, lace brides of extinction.

And yet the dreamy blur that we see through, always coated, always there. I have been taught since childhood to maintain face. To follow instruction.

Then I untethered myself to chart a new course. I subverted the model and walked my own path, a rarer path than most. Do I say this with some small amount of rebel's pride? Yes, because I have walked it and made it work for me. It's like putting on some spike-heeled shoes and finding out midway through that they are actually the most comfortable pair of Docs. That contrarian's knowledge was my battleship plating on some if not most days.

But now I find myself unmoored.

At all previous points, I have found safe harbors in unknown waters. Full of drive and curiosity, I have created safe havens, lit by the fire of escaping someone else's preconceived or pre-defined destinies. Now I feel as though my engine's sputtered. And I know I am merely drifting.

It is too easy to dissemble and pretend that I haven't lost my moorings. That everything is okay. I do, and I can, passably. But I am not a good enough actor and so sometimes I am too brutally honest. People prefer the solace of little white lies.

I've become adrift precisely because I can. Because I have that privilege. It's weird and disturbing and I don't want to think about what that means. I've grown up fighting for people without much and now I can simply coast. And my tremendous guilt is what's allowing me to run along on the back of the wind. But winds change, and I don't wanna be stuck in the middle of the ocean, miles from nowhere and short on supplies.

I need to go back to being resourceful.

To take this empty space and to figure out how to reinvent myself. To focus if nothing else on what I like, what I excel at, and where the twain meet. To figure out who I am and why I have come this far. I cannot be a good person, friend, activist, lover without doing some of this hard work. No one else is going to do it for me. The self-induced emotional flagellation has to stop. The growing has to start.

And I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I am afraid to rebuild. My battleship's a shambles and taking on water. My immigrant parents would be ashamed that I can't fucking decide if I want to sink or swim.

Typical - I am half-heartedly dog paddling.



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