How do we practice freedom?
Posted on October 11, 2017
I choked up and cried as I uttered the words, “…It has given me strength and inspiration to show up for my own son Collin who is autistic…” at our 45th Anniversary to a full house of over 500 people last weekend.
You see, I had practiced my speech over and over again. In the beginning, it was difficult to say out loud then it got easier but I could still feel the feels coming. Either way I told myself is that I should not try to “control” my emotions, as I usually do, and trust myself and let them guide me.
Sharing deeply and revealing myself to the many parts of my life is how I’m practicing freedom everyday. I’m not waiting for everyone to be open and vulnerable, I’m going to practice it in the present. I have the privilege to do this though sometimes it seems the privileged are the least courageous. This is how I practice freedom.
It was Malkia Cyril who put the call out that night for us to “practice freedom.” It resonated with many of us that night. Practicing freedom, to me, means living purposefully (and joyfully). Not just talking about it but doing at the same time. It is not just internal but also external. As one of our elders reminded me that night, “Our energy is constantly flowing in both direction.” Practicing freedom is our natural state yet we are sometimes stuck in our rigid styles of too much thinking, too much feeling or just too much doing. This practice, too, is not perfect but constantly evolving towards our purpose.
The day after our 45th anniversary, we had an intergenerational dialogue with the many generations from high school/college youth and working mamas to yelders and OGs/founders. it was beautiful.
We shared powerful and personal stories; we cried, we laughed, we held each other and inspired each other. With the generosity offered into the space, it was felt that we are not alone. More than anything, this practice softened our own silos and we saw each other more fully than ever before. It was not a pure space, not at all, but it was a brave space that could hold the sum of all our many parts. It can and will deepen as we continue to “grow our souls,” as Grace Lee Boggs would always say. In these times, this could not be more precious and powerful.
This community we’ve been building for the last 45 years is also a movement economy. Besides the more obvious economic labor, our physical and emotional labor is creating an economy for all of us to feel held, supported and to be our best selves. I want to keep building on this concept. All our activities are units of “work.” From healing, friendship and community building to parenting and paid organizing — all labor needs to be accounted for and appreciated <3. This is the society I want to live in and want to build for and with Collin. And we need to be building this every single day.
There is more to share about last weekend but I want to end with a quote about love and power that I’m always drawn back to:
“Love is identified with a resignation of power and power with a denial of love.
What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive and that love without power is sentimental and anemic.
Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice.
Justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”
(Martin Luther King Jr.)
The more we can do this, the more purposeful we become in all our actions. This is how we practice freedom. How are you practicing freedom today?