(written on November 17, flying home to FLORIDA and leaving NYC on the day of the biggest city-wide protest since I moved here in March)
I’m watching the FOX news account of the Occupy Wall Street “Day of
Action Disruption”, including a moving personal story of a mom whose son got cordoned off by group of linked arms protesters and she had to “ hit the gentlemen” to get her son back. “The traffic is horrible in lower Manhattan, but don’t worry we’ll keep you updated as we get the latest developments.” “Crowds and Chaos, that’s the only way to describe what’s going on in Lower Manhattan right now.” “Concentrate your ample efforts on looking for work — we are the silent 99% who are paying for this parade.”
Its dark in NYC but it’s light here in Florida, the sun is shining way past 4:30pm. I am wishing I was downtown in Manhattan, about to march across the Brooklyn Bridge, being one of the “thousands convening on Foley Square”. I didn’t wake up early to go to the protest around the Stock Exchange – I didn’t feel prepared, I wasn’t trained enough, I didn’t know where to go, don’t “have time” to be arrested.
I haven’t spoken very much about OWS because I almost don’t know what to say. I am part of the movement. I believe in the power of people. I believe that the way the world works right now doesn’t work, that our politics and reforms and how our society makes decisions is all governed by who has the money, I don’t trust our news media, I don’t trust other “experts”, I don’t trust things I read online until I’ve read at least 5 different things, I don’t trust myself because I must not know all the facts, I must not be educated enough, I must not be smart enough.
I don’t trust our police because I might break a rule and get arrested. I don’t trust the protestors because I don’t understand them fully. I don’t trust our government because they aren’t doing enough, they aren’t responding, they’re pretending this is a fad. They are being slow, individuals instead of a team, fighting over pathetic politics instead of making real change, making a real difference in the world.
But how can I make a real difference in my life? In this world? I don’t have a job, I’m living in the nation’s most expensive city, I’m relying on savings and financial assistance from my family. I know I have a lot to give to the world, I know I have a big difference to make, but I’m not sure how. And meanwhile I feel like a fake, like a useless part of this world, sucking up resources while I try and figure out my life – what a luxury. What would being part of a big march do? What would getting arrested do? What would stopping all other projects – applying to jobs, fixing up/unpacking my house, developing new projects, doing laundry — what would that do? What would my projects – because I’m brimming with ideas more now than ever before – what would they do for the world? Are they just more feel-good stuffed animals? Should I be making defense shields instead? Maybe housing structures. But why? What’s behind the occupying? Even though I am for it, I don’t totally get it. It’s not about building structures. It’s about rocking the boat, causing a stir, being a stand.
Meanwhile, I am completing a two year program where I have been being trained in being responsible, listening fully, being a leader and causing leaders around me. In order to complete this training I am flying to Orlando to a conference with over 700 people who are also in this program across North America. We will all be staying in a fancy huge hotel (made affordable for me by splitting the room with 3 other lovely ladies) and my days will be entirely filled with meetings. I know that this makes a difference, I’ve seen the incredible shifts that people inside of this program have made in areas that are important to them, in making projects that they really want to happen actually take root and be real. I know that I would not be living in New York City, applying to jobs I really want, creating art projects that are bigger than me, being relatively unafraid knowing that I am a powerful listener and leader, that I can make a difference connecting with people. Yet I also feel like a fake. I can’t afford to take a trip to Florida. My family is funding my trip for Thanksgiving. I am unsure where I will get funds to pay for January’s rent. But I have the security of my family who will always back me, and that is something that not everyone has. And I use this as a reason why I am a fake and I’m not part of the movement.
I am committing to by the end of November:
- moving my money, closing my Bank of America accounts.
- Getting involved in OWS in a concrete way that I can own and be a part of the larger movement, instead of an occasional onlooker and casual participant. maybe through a project. maybe through a committee.
- I will share my projects with everyone even when they scare me, even when I think they are dumb or insignificant. I will take critical feedback constructively and not personally. I welcome your feedback.
- I will expand my projects as far beyond me as possible. I will trust others, giving up that I am the only one who knows how to “do it right” or do it best. I will make space for other people.
- I will meet up with 1 friend I haven’t seen in months from NYC every week (as part of expanding people powered projects, consistent with my belief in the power of community and relationships)
I just remembered how paralyzed I was creatively a few months ago. Living in Florida, not being sure what was next, feeling like I didn’t have enough time or friends or resources to make any projects happen. I’ve applied to over 10 things (jobs, projects, classes, etc) in the last week, I’m seeking new funding sources for the unpaid projects, I’m living in the most incredible city surrounded by activists and artists and passionate people who are up to big huge things. I’ve set up my room to be a top notch studio, with all my fabrics lined up by color, with bins for “found objects” for “letter writing papers” for “jewelry making” for “thread” for “adhesives”.
I sat in the same aisle of the plane as a young woman (maybe 10 years old?) named Alia. She looked Middle Eastern. Her grandmother was Russian and sat in between us two Aliyas. The little girl was a brilliant translator for her grandmother. She was wearing all purple. I was proud to share a name with her.