Starting Point

Path to self discovery

In 2014, I’m going forward with my hands, my feet, and my voice.

In 2013, I lost my home. When I looked up and knew I needed help, it was too late to change the momentum. I could not support myself, and everything went with it: my space, my cat, my art, childhood mementos, every artifact from the eight intervening years I said that I would make it.

With no home, and no belongings but the few boxes and suitcases I could pack, I looked to my friends to support me. To my surprise, when I had fallen back in trust, many had no problem watching me hit the ground.

I walked into 2014 with nothing but my hands, my feet, and my voice.

I never thought myself a nomad, but sometimes we have to keep looking to find we are welcome. I never thought myself a failure, but this time I realized how big “the system” is, and how little it can make anyone feel. And I thought I could handle it, because I’ve handled worse, you know?

So here’s the clincher: This year, I see how necessary it all is.

For the record, I belong to a group of people against whom it is still legal to discriminate in most of the US. And even where it is illegal, the general attitude you’ll find is that our rights may be equal on paper, but still of much less value in practice.

Until recently, that mattered little to me. I’m pretty, I’m white, I’m educated — no way the cold shoulder of prejudice would sting my face, I’m not like the rest of them. But guess what? My calloused apathy did matter. Because every chance I took to ignore others’ hurt, I ensured that cruelty would be hanging in the air when I needed a hand. All the time I spent avoiding the fact that my sisters are suffering meant that I must experience it myself.

Until you are willing to face the pain of your community, you can’t expect to escape it yourself.

We are never alone — in joy or sorrow. And if I want to see joy, I must be willing to see it in others. That means seeing myself as part of a bigger picture. That means offering my heart when it hurts and when it feels good. That means I have to love unconditionally.

That means there is a reason for suffering.

Now is my chance to make good on it for the rest of my life.

When I succeed, when I have my own home, and my cat, and perhaps some of the comforts that make me feel that life is good, I will know that I alongside my community did this for the furtherance of love on this planet. When we turn to each other and see each others’ real need, and then forget the fear and lift each other up — that’s when love takes a body. That when this planet changes for good. Suffering got our attention, and it got me moving.

2013 was a powerful and difficult year for many people. That year has been swept away, and with it, whatever we no longer needed, whatever was holding us back. This year, I have hands, feet, and a voice. They’re all I have, and I will use them.

What have you got?

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Robert Manderson says:

    Hello Leslie. I can’t believe I’m the first to respond to your excellent post. 2013 has also been a year of upheaval for me and others dear to me, and it is good to hear that we are not alone. I regret that I don’t have the time to express more, (relying on public internet access), but I hear you and relate.


  2. Leslie R says:

    Thank you for your support, Robert. It is important that we learn to break down isolation through compassion. Please do know that you are not alone, and we are fighting to make it!


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