The year 2020 is the time of gaining perfect vision of who we are as a collective. It’s the year when we are shaken to our core. We are in a moment of complete and utter upheaval. We are in the time of determining what is true and what is false, what is right and what is wrong. But these ideals are shaped by conditioned perspectives, for what is right to someone is false for someone else. What is true for you may be all kinds of wrong for me. So it will never work. And so the only way through this is love.
Self-love, to be specific. Pure acceptance. Loving the limping, damaged human being that stares back at you every day in that mirror of a life. No. Matter. What. I will be honest. My entire youth, I pretty much loathed myself. I hated how gawky I was, how I felt like a baby giraffe just learning to walk with my new-found, 5’10” stature going into SEVENTH EFFING GRADE, completely wobbly, tripping everywhere, literally walking into walls, so unsure of myself, so nervous to do and say the wrong thing, embarrassing myself to no end when I did, and no one taking me seriously as a result.
Never once did I believe in myself and I certainly didn’t think telling the truth was the answer. I told people what they wanted to hear. Or rather, what I thought people wanted to hear. All of this was because I didn’t have the confidence to own my own truth. I never felt like being honest was worthy enough. I never stood up to bullying. And I may have even partaken in the act myself once or twice. And all of this was because I didn’t love and understand myself enough to take responsibility for my own actions.
I am far from that fumbling baby giraffe from long ago. Now, I stand even taller, a mama giraffe that is strong and holds her head high above the trees, watching others from a rare vantage point that allows for perspective, who now walks with slow purpose, but will kick the shit out of a lioness if attacked (regardless of how awkward it still looks).
No, I have been through enough tough lessons in my life to realize how important self-reflection, self-love, quiet presence, and unwavering honesty are the only way to truly escape our past prisons. And the truth is, is that I have looked deep into my own ordinary brown eyes and realized that they are actually the hue of roasted chestnut nestled in a bed of late autumn grass, the undeniable combination between my mother’s vibrant and powerful green eyes and my father’s warm and loving brown eyes. They are sad and wise and playful and passionate. They exude my truth. And I think to myself, how often do we look into someone else’s eyes and see their truth? For that matter, how often do you look into your own eyes and see your own?
It is only when you can bear to hold your own gaze, when you can stand to look at yourself long enough to see your soul hesitantly peeking out from behind the filthy façade of the insecurities and half-truths of your mind that we can begin to truly love our beautifully imperfect selves. And that is what this is all about. Loving the shitty you so you have the capacity to love every other shitty person out there.
We are such a visual species and I think we subconsciously understand much more than what we initially perceive. I mean, I’ve learned to avoid eye contact during presentations because this empath tends to micro-interpret people’s eye movements and I instantly lose concentration from one stinkin’ eye-twitch. Eye roll. I’ve felt the lusty gaze of the tree-trimmer that made me blush to my core with suggestion. I’ve stared into someone’s eyes the color of a glacier-laced sky on a cold clear day and felt a jolt of electricity so intense it actually hurt my retinas, as if the gaze itself singed a blue-flamed brand right on my unknowing heart. And I remember looking into the eyes of my ex-husband when asking if there was someone else and his intense, unblinking, hollow stare told me everything I needed to know.
We are much more perceptive than we realize, even on a global scale. I think we’ve known that this global upheaval has been brewing for a long time. I myself kept thinking for years, ‘something needs to change, but what? How?’ So I think of this year is about gaining clarity. It is holding up a mirror so that we can finally glimpse our true selves, our scared, sacred souls hidden deep within.
And some of it is not so pretty. Some of it includes the glares of hatred among men. Some of it includes the squinting, excruciating pain of inequity. If the eyes are the windows to the soul, then some windows are covered in mud as thick as elephant skin. Their beautiful souls are caked so entirely with fear and self-loathing that the only sense of freedom will come with the sweet release of death. This scowling rage is redirected at those who don’t believe in the same things. Or look the same. Because we fear what we don’t understand. And we destroy what we fear. Or at least, that’s what people were taught. I mean, it’s easier to avert your eyes than to look head-on into the blaze. It’s far easier to blame others than it is to blame yourself.
The year of 2020 is allowing us to see clearly all of the inequities, inadequacies, and systemic failures of our government, our medical resources and support, our inherent and underlying racism, our greed for economic success to trump the need to protect our citizens and environment. We have been hit twice this year by truth bombs. The first was the sickness of the chest. The second was the sickness of the heart, fueled by self-hatred and its reverberant resentment and hostility of others. And it will always prevail if we cannot break the cycle.
The ONLY way through this is love. Love yourself so you have the capacity to love someone else, understand someone else. Identify with someone else’s pain, even if you’ve never experienced it for yourself. Understand that protesting is sometimes the only way forward. It may get the “wrong” kind of attention in certain eyes, but it gets everyone’s fucking attention nevertheless. And we are seeing how it is starting to change our damaged systems and skewed perceptions of inequality.
Understand that WE are the problem. The collective “WE.” Every single one of us in this world. If you are not a victim of this madness we call racism, then you either stand by in tacit compliance or you yourself are the perpetrator, for the vast majority of us can’t stand up to a bully. I know I never could. But until you realize that it all starts with you, that YOU have to look into your own beautifully flawed eyes and deal with your own biases, then we cannot break the cycle.
I worry it’s too hard to do. Because that means admitting that you and your beliefs are wrong. And people hold onto their beliefs and ideologies (a.k.a. the “Ego”) for dear life. I was once like that. I never thought that anyone should be better or worse off due to the shade of their skin. But that’s also called white privilege, to flit and flutter about without a care in the world loving everyone. Because it’s naïve and idealistic in a way that doesn’t actually help the people who need it the most. It’s ignorant to the pain and suffering of injustice that people face daily in their lives. And that’s because I’ve never had to associate my pain with skin color. I think everything’s fine and am shocked when things aren’t. It’s not a part of my being. And that ignorance is just as bad as someone actively judging someone else by skin tone alone.
So yeah, I’m a part of the problem. And if I can admit it, you can too. The only way to resolve this is through extensive self-reflection, self-acceptance, compassion of the heart, and education of the mind. It is NOT easy. It’s taken me YEARS and I am still just getting started. But I think this understanding changes the way you see the world. Because if you truly loved yourself you wouldn’t care what incredible shade of skin someone has. You wouldn’t care one bit what another person does or says or acts or believes because all you would exude is gratitude for your own life and for the lives of everyone else in this piping hot mess of a world.
Work on yourself. Realize that the loathing you have for others is actually the loathing you have for yourself. And OWN it. Understand your own hidden fears and biases. Let go of the ever-greedy Ego. Understand that your childhood scars might leave marks, but they do not define you. Understand that you MUST fail over and over again to gain wisdom. Understand that perspective is born out of confronting the uncomfortable darkness of your soiled, conditioned beliefs.
Be grateful for even the negative things that happen in your life. They allow you to appreciate the good. The man who gives you both the stink-eye and the bird on the highway allows you to appreciate someone who is truly there for you. The heartbreak you endure allows you to fine-tune what you want in a partner the next time.
Educate yourself. Stand up to others when you see injustice, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you. Because if just one other person watches you and realizes it’s okay to stand up for another, you’ve just changed the entire fucking world.
Look deep into your own beautifully flawed eyes filled with the incredible hue of a lion’s mane at sunset
or velvety cocoa
or weathered walnut
or fresh-cut grass
or a glacier-laced sky.
Look deep within these colorful eyes of wonder and tell your inner self, “It’s okay. I love you. You’re just doing the best you can. I forgive you.” When we each can do this, we will as a collective be able to change the distorted perception of this world. We will be able to take the blindfold off to our systemic injustices and finally notice the utterly vivid beauty that connects us all. We’ll be able to see clearly with 20/20 vision that love and empathy are the only way to healing, that gratitude and acceptance are the only arsenal we can truly use to wage the war against hate and fear.
While our perceptions of this life are all completely different, every one of us still sees with the same exact pair of eyes that interpret rods and cones in a spectrum of greens, blues, and reds. We all still see the same rainbow on the inside, no matter what color of the rainbow we are on the outside.