So much talk lately about being invisible:
People of color are invisible
Old women are invisible
People in wheelchairs
People in dirty clothes
and so on...
Privilege and oppression.
The cycle feels deeply connected to how, when, why, IF we see the world outside of ourselves.
The other day I was discussing with Sarah Seitz how to proactively cultivate abilities in myself that I currently scorn because they feel rooted in patriarchy. Coldness, dismissal, ambivalence, lack of compassion and general douchebaggery. Could acting in these ways actually improve my relationship with myself and the world, and by extension my relationship to others?
Haven't come to a conclusion on that one yet, and I doubt I will, but I might wear the idea from time to time, much like I might wear a pair of men's pants...not super comfortable but functional for heavy lifting. Generally I prefer dresses. And yoga pants, of course. But I digress.
My point here: as I choose to SEE more and more, as I choose not to let marginalized people be invisible to me, a myriad of unforeseen changes occur in my overall perspective:
I am seeing myself more clearly, becoming acutely aware when tiny lies come out of my mouth. My weight (I weigh 144, not 135.) How I spend my time (too much fb.) The worst lie I tell, all the time, is when I make a bad decision and justify it, to myself or somebody else, knowing that wasn't the real reason why. I'm not gonna beat myself up over any of it. Because I am ceasing to be invisible to myself anymore. It hurts so good.
To my delight, I am quickly crossing the bridge between “seeing” formerly-invisible people to actually connecting with them. I am making more friends of color, of age, of all ages, losing my biases towards children, white people and rich people. Don't judge me. I am in metamorphosis. So are you. I am opening and learning the subtle, powerful difference between “choosing friends” and “obeying rules I didn't agree to.”
And with that, I realize I also have the option NOT to see certain types of people. I can choose, consciously, the same way most of us have chosen, unconsciously, to erase people from my worldview. For example, I can choose not to see people who have been cruel to me. I can choose not to see people who cut me down. I can choose not to see people who refuse to accept me for who I am, people who don't respect my boundaries, people who don't want me to grow. People who don't believe in me.
When you make a painting, you might sketch it in with a pencil first. Maybe the drawing is clumsy, ill-proportioned, but you get the basic structure. Then you go over it with paint, a quick outline that strengthens the idea. Now you can go in with a thick rubber eraser and rub out all of that sketchy stuff. You clean up the canvas and use a soft brush to dust away the debris so it doesn't screw up the surface texture.
And then you have space. Space for color and form. Space for layers of light and darkness. Space to manifest your original vision, or to let it change. And even though you know those penciled-in lines, those old, awkward decisions, would have eventually been covered, there is a sense of ease that comes from having removed them, knowing they wouldn't be true or necessary to the brilliance and contrast of the final image.
And so, this week I will spend time erasing sketchy lines. Clearing the canvas for color and depth. And being impeccably intentional about who I see, and who I don't.
(An excerpt from my upcoming memoir "Sex, Anarchy & Agriculture: One Woman's Quest for Sustainable Home," by Heather Jo Flores)
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Painting : Mandragora by Heather Jo Flores, oil on wood.
|Mandragore, Oil on Wood by Heather Jo Flores|