Our Movements Need Some More Flexibility (and Neuroplasticity) – Diary of a Baba
Posted on July 10, 2018
I’m on another week long trip and I already feel a little homesick. Just a week ago, I was in San Diego and today I’m off to Boston and Providence. I feel grateful for the opportunity to build these cross movement relationships but I’m definitely feeling some kind of way being away. What gives me light is when I hear that this blog, my writing, is speaking to you on a personal and political level. It is both of these things. Thank you for letting me know. Our hearts grow stronger because of each other. <3
I was able to reflect a bit last week and I don’t know if this is the most appropriate analogy but my worlds as a parent and movement activist/organizer often collide and/or merge. As parents, we deal with inflexibility on the daily; and for parents of autistics, almost everyday it is about building flexibility and neuroplasticity. For example, a couple weeks ago, Collin lost his favorite shoe at a play date and he was so sad (stuck at times) that he lost his shoe. The other day, he was adamant about wearing his blue and green swim clothes for swim class (!!). Everyday, we are practicing letting go and being flexible. Sometimes, it feels like our movements more of this, as well.
SO what is “neuroplasticity”? Neuroplasticity isn’t new; it has also been effective with autistics and in trauma work. I’m no expert but basically it is the ability of the brain to change through intention and practice. We can create new patterns and behaviors to break out of the rigidity and build flexibility.
But flexibility towards what purpose? To me, it is not just learning how to get along better or learning to conform within society but it is learning to exert agency to be your best (and true) self toward collective liberation. This is not something we can do overnight but is a life journey of practice, reflection, lessons/mistakes, and then more practice along the way.
Sometimes, I feel the same way in the movement. Already, there are plenty of silos, ideological, political, geographic, generational, and interpersonal differences and fragmentation. Sometimes this fragmentation feels comfortable and then sometimes we feed into these differences when things are not actually that different.
This is the aim of capitalism so I’m not that surprised. But I believe we can (and will) do better and I’m seeing that happen more and more in these times. As I’ve written before, part of breaking this fragmentation is turning towards (not against) each other and that may be more painful than joyful, at first.
If we were to commit to building flexibility (and neuroplasticity) for the short and long term, some of the most difficult moments and counter intutive approaches can become openings to build on a whole new level.
NOTE: That favorite shoe Collin lost was found several days later. Whew. It was a test on us as parents not to cave into his rigidity like get another pair of identical shoes, which probably would not have resolved the issue either.