Fear: A Call for Love

eleanor-roosevelt-quotes-sayings-motivational-wisdom-scareEleanor Roosevelt said that we should do one thing everyday that scares us. The patron feminist figure is a great barometer for fearlessness. First Lady of the United States from 1933-1945, she did all sorts of daring stuff women weren’t supposed to do. She took on the clan, championed racial equality, held press conferences, wrote columns, toured coalmines, helped found the United Nations, and had openly lesbian friends. She might have even been romantically entangled with one of them…while being the President’s wife!

She stared down fear by doing things women didn’t do in the 1930’s.  I’ve always admired her for staunchly pushing forward on issues she cared about while aggressively asserting herself despite the times in which she lived.  She lived out her mission by seeing past her fears.

Today, I summoned a bit of that E.R. energy myself by doing not one, but TWO things that scared me:

1)   I resigned my job.

2)   I called out my biggest fear of all: being alone.

Effective December 24th, I won’t have the security of gainful employment. Instead, I’ll have the freedom of enterprising opportunity. Perhaps I’ll land a gig before then, but if not, the wheels are rolling out of ICT and into Cali! I’ve always been afraid of sending off that e-mail officially saying that I’ll no longer work where I do. It’s difficult to leave a comfortable job that has brought only good into your life. At a certain point, though, you have to acknowledge the shortcomings of security. What good is a job if in only reinforces an unfulfilled life?

I’m moving to Los Angeles for several reasons, but a big part of why I’m uprooting my entire existence at 31 is that I want to find a place where I belong again. That was Wichita for a time. For a season I truly felt that I belonged here, but it’s been years since I’ve felt connected or fulfilled. Like most traditional locales, the advent of the 30’s in Wichita means marriage, children, and mortgages for most.  Not really my thing. Plus I’m gay. Enough said. In urban settings, life doesn’t settle in at 30; it’s that point when the adventure truly takes off. I’m ready to find a tribe of people to whom I feel connected with again.

It’s within that most yearned of prospects that my biggest fear has lied. The truth is that I’m not afraid of going broke or being homeless. Somehow, I just intrinsically know neither of those fates will befall me. It’s being alone that I’m worried about. After all, I’m moving to a city where I sort of know a total of kind of 4 people:

1)   My super cool therapist cousin who I’m just now getting to really know and who’s been awesomely supportive of my venture.

2)   An indie flick PR maven I’ve barely seen since high school who I once shared an inside joke with about Civil War aficionado Mary Chesnut. Google her.

3)   The marketing manger for TOMS (yes, the hipster show company!) who former roommate Steffen splashed a shot onto by accident last fall when I was visiting WeHo. He does yoga and posts inspirational memes on his Facebook page.

4)   Steffen’s ex-boyfriend, who is super sweet and probably loads of fun with a great taste in music and affinity for Venice Beach.

Yesterday I was sort of wrapped up in this ridiculous self-pity lonely fear cocoon when LA acquaintance #3 (who will henceforth be referred to as TOMS Guy) randomly commented on a Facebook post I made about fear. I was attempting to pep-talk myself into not being afraid, but really missing the mark entirely when I posted:

Fear. You can give in to it and be defeated. Or you can stare it down and be delivered to something awesome.

TOMS Guy commented:

…or there is always the 3rd, more gentler way. You look past it. For fear is of this world but not of the true world… Fear is nothing but a “call for love.” Bring the love and the fear disappears…

His comment was a simultaneous cold slash of water and hot slap in the face. Throughout all of the year’s worth of saving money and making plans to move, there’s one thing I had not done…called in love! You can’t rid yourself of loneliness or find a tribe to belong to when you aren’t calling out for love to embrace you.

So today, I did just that. And this post is my official call for love! Love is an optimal state where who we are connects to the energy of people around us. It draws in the best of them while extrapolating from us our brightest gems. Friendships, friend groups, tribes, communities, and ultimately romantic partners are born from this force. Once I saw that, fear did indeed disappear.

TOMS are wise sages in addition to being trendy shoes.

All in all, I suppose today was pretty epic. I didn’t pen an Eleanor Roosevelt U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights draft, but I did kick two fears to the curb. Sometimes, the most significant work happens inside our own brain. And on our Facebook wall.

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Freedom: Uncomfortable. Compelling.

17833_568175505032_1064411_nLately I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about freedom. There’s the politically charged notion of liberty that stands stubborn in the face of a tyrannical majority. There’s the circumstance of being released from captivity or escaping from some sort of confine. And then, there’s the condition of personal autonomy. It’s a state of being where the sum of one’s actions and the totality of one’s life choices allow for the parameters of existence to be completely and totally defined by, well…you!

Freedom is why I am moving to Los Angeles. I’m quitting a good job and boxing up an easy life because I can. I’m 31 years old. I’m single. I’m responsible. I don’t have children to raise. I don’t a partner to consider. I have no pets. I don’t even really have family who factor into the equation of my daily life decisions.

What I do have is myself, and lately I’ve experienced a renaissance of sorts in reconnecting to that odd, peering reflection I see daily in the mirror.

I didn’t turn 30 gracefully. I’ve spent the better part of the last year bemoaning what I don’t have.  I’ve lamented career choices. I’ve coveted my friend’s romantic relationships. I’ve formed highly inappropriate attachments. But at a certain point, we have to take inventory of what we do possess.

In the shadow of loneliness lurks the obsidian silhouette of epic sovereignty. For me, being alone at this point in this life is a true gift.

In moving to Los Angeles, I am embracing the notion that my existence can be an artful safari. Maybe selling everything you own and venturing to a sprawling metropolises where you know very few people isn’t what you’re supposed to do at 31, but it’s what I’m doing! I’m actually quite excited about the prospect of arriving in the second largest city in the U.S. without a job or without a place to live. That’s because the ideology of work and home have arrested my development.  I don’t know who I am without one or both of these crutches. No, that doesn’t mean I’m going to be unemployed for very long or homeless at all. I’ve been smart about saving up money to ensure my survival. I’ll be laser-focused on finding gainful work.  But sometimes you have to completely let go of the past before you can fully embrace the present. California will be my blank canvass. On it’s expansive, golden coast I will paint something daring and fresh. Life is not a reality one should settle into; it’s a state of being on should boldly define.

I am under no illusions. I’ll be alarmed when I roll into the jam-packed streets of Hollywood and my dented yellow Ford Focus doesn’t have it’s own space to park in. It’ll be disarming that first week or two when I won’t have a bed to call my own. I will do doubt feel a tinge of fear when payroll deposits cease to find their way into my bank account.  I’ll be a little lost wandering crowded streets and discovering new venues where not a soul recognizes me. When I get home–once I eventually have one–there won’t be that familiar maze of art to comfort my sensibilities. I won’t have a Jayson to imbibe a bottle of win with. I won’t have a Lynette to eat Indian food with. I won’t have a Steffen to visit at the bar or make vegan pizzas with. I will have none of the boundaries that define my sense of safety, comfort, and belonging.

But what I will have is everything else—the awesomeness of the unknown. I don’t know what it feels like to wake up as a Californian, to know that your backyard is a canyon and your front porch is a beach. I can only faintly fathom what it will mean to live in a city where being gay isn’t an aberration. My taste buds can only water over the prospect of having raw, vegan, and multi-ethnic cuisine available at nearly any corner.

I will attract the right job that will put me on a path toward financial prosperity and personal enrichment. I don’t know what that will be yet, but it will be something meaningful and challenging that will allow me to grow in the exact ways in which I need to develop. I invite with eager anticipation new friends into my life. I look forward to random connections made as I hike canyons, stroll beach walks, go to yoga, delve deeper into my spiritual interests, wander aimlessly along the streets, peruse art galleries, and seek out awesome music. I’ll take writing classes, volunteer for a film festival or LGBT group, and go to Meet Ups. I might even get political again…this time in a liberal locale!

I’ll do all of this because the sum of my choices has allowed it to be. I am grateful to have the freedom to make this giant, uncomfortable personal change!

We should fall in love with our life a little bit each day. If we don’t, we owe it to ourselves to make some adjustments. Change is uncomfortable. If you’re being true to yourself, though, it will always be compelling.

History: Making, Living Change

celebrate-lgbt-history-month-4LGBT history isn’t the story of a particular cast of notable characters or even a linear tale of significant events. Our history is enormously dispersed and incredibly personal. There are obviously important figures and occurrences that have been pivotal to our collective progress. More influential, though, are the millions of people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender who have shared their struggles with their friends, families, and communities. They have picked the locks of other’s hearts, changing the trajectory for generations that will follow.

History is made every time a person tells their deeply religious relative that they are gay, requiring their kin to reexamine long held dogmatic beliefs and look deeper into divine interpretations.  History is made when two men and two women hold hands by the celebrated Keeper of the Plain statue in Wichita, causing many straight people to do a double take, but also subtly changing notions about love. History is made when someone born female starts to live publically as a man, allowing all of us to understand that love really doesn’t have a gender. History is made when a parent discovers that their child is gay and quietly accepts them with love in their heart.

We make history when we are out at work. We make history when we don’t allow our sexuality to segregate us from our faith. We make history each time we push aside the shadows of shame and allow ourselves to fall in love. Even the most seemingly insignificant of actions and indiscriminate of encounters adds to a larger effect.

Unlike other civil rights movements, we don’t come from a community of similarities. There’s no monolithic trait all persons who are LGBT share; indeed, it’s the opposite. We are racially, ethnically, socioeconomically, religiously, and geographically diverse. Our political ideologies run across the spectrum, as do our athletic abilities, and our tastes in art, music, and entertainment. That fact has always posed a significant challenge. It’s hard to develop a cohesive plan of action when a group is so varied. Yet, perhaps that’s why we’ve been so successful as of late at truly changing hearts and minds.

There’s a saturation of media reports about how quickly Americans have embraced marriage equality and how comfortable the public has become with homosexuality in general.  There was nothing quick about this, though…just ask a gay person in their 70’s or 80’s who had to hide for most of their life! Because of millions of small actions over many decades, though, we reached a tipping point. Sometime in the last four years or so, we truly did make history by mainstreaming our community.

We in the Midwest still have a LONG way to go to get to where we need to be. We can find comfort in our history, though.  Remember that you make a little bit of history each day, just by being honest about who you are!