August 16, 2012 § 1 Comment
“You can be anybody you want here.”
That’s what somebody we’ll call O told me on the street corner, three nights ago, at 10:35 PM between harsh, quick puffs of Parliaments and telling me about his last trip to Egypt. O’s Greek. But he grew up in New York. He works in real estate in Jersey City and Hoboken. He loves what he does. I know he means it because he told me five times.
Either that, or the sweet tea vodka was talking.
I hadn’t had sweet tea vodka since I was living in Alexandria, VA with my friend Brantley and running on four hours of sleep in between working and interning and catching the dash bus to the yellow line to 19th street. I forgot how good it was.
NYC’s a little like Jesus in that she belongs to each person differently, and yet somehow still manages to love everyone at once. I’ve got my New York, and you’ve got your New York, and he’s got his New York, and New York’s only my enemy when worlds and definitions collide. I get a splintering inside when that happens - just like when this evangelical elder told me Jesus hated my belly ring. Different Jesus. Different NYC. Someone else’s definition of both have made my heart split sideways, more than once.
I’m walking down the street and New York’s all mine and then there’s this Meg Ryan effect when I was expecting to see someone I trusted but met the enemy instead – and maybe their New York provides a certain image that involves damning the girl that said no to a date, or seeing how far they can push you until you call chit. But, either way, the splintering inside is like a blister, and suddenly the city’s hot and it’s hard and this little girl inside me wants to go home.
There was a splintering the night I met O. I was three yuengling’s deep in to a late happy hour and this bartender named Chris was leaning on the counter talking to my friend and me. We left just as this guy in a striped shirt was asking what we do for a living and I was seeing stars and feeling light, you know, cause for me New York is all about throwing off my old shackles and creating new experiences over and over and over again. And, that’s what I had done at this new spot by the river. I’d been present and laughing and focused on the moment with my friend A. And, I’d broken out of my habit of spending all my Tuesday nights at the same spot.
New York is about expansion for me, the opening up of my heart and soul after a lifetime of microscopic focus on disappointing emotional exchanges and small interactions.
It’s easy to get caught up in a safe routine, even here. I’ve got to push myself. I’d been forgetting to do that for a few weeks, and I was feeling like I was closing in again – shutting down, closing up. Tuesday was the night I put a stop to that – I was bent on new streets and new haunts. My experiences get bigger, and my life gets bigger. And that’s New York.
Regardless of why or how you got there, I think the first man who ever buys you Sunday morning champagne brunch in New York is a man you don’t forget. You may have fallen for him hard, or you may have been taking advantage of the free drink, but I’m not sure it even matters, in the end - you send him good vibes and you tip your hat to him, because he was the first to welcome you to the world of being young and beautiful and wanted in this city.
You tip your hat and you send him good vibes, but that doesn’t mean you want to see him on a street corner, months later. And, I had a lump in my throat after mine passed me on the way to the train.
I was all wrapped up, and I didn’t want to be.
“What the fuck?” I kept thinking.
“Open back up. Get big,” I kept answering myself.
O was a stranger out smoking a cigarette on my way home. I bummed after he told me to have a good night in passing. I haven’t bought a pack myself since college, but I bum one once every week or so from a stranger, and I learn things that way. Two months ago, this guy named Mike told me about kicking his heroine addiction on a doorstep two blocks from my apartment. A week before that, someone else ended up splitting four gargantuan slices of pizza with me at the corner store, and we’ve been fast friends ever since.
O asked if I wanted a drink, and I told him I was hungry, and headed home for a sandwich. Ten minutes later I was propped up in the front of a real estate office by a big window close to the street, drinking just one more after all, and eating bruschetta and Belgian chocolate with french bread and Greek olives, all dipped in olive oil and fresh pepper off a paper plate because O just wasn’t about taking no for an answer.
It was a big conversation – the kind that opens you back up. We talked the exchange of culture and what it’s like in Greece, as a kid. We talked Egyptian politics and gun control laws and I shared about the only night I ever spent in Dubai, and the way the hotel manager silently scoffed at my bare shoulders on my way to my room.
We circled back to New York, ten minutes later.
“You get to re-invent yourself by the weekend in this town,” O commented. “You just can’t get too narrowly focused on any one thing. Beyond that, all you have to do is be open, and opportunity and experience come your way.”
I guess that was a different way of saying what I’d been feeling – that if you can insist on staying open, you can make a home out of a million different experiences and people that become part of your New York, before you know it. Otherwise, you’ve made a home out of a single person, or a single experience, and I should know by now that you can’t do that.
If you’re going to stay open, then you’ve got to let go of the bitterness that comes from definitions colliding along the way. The splintering – you feel it hot – and then you let it pass. And, that’s what I was doing, propped up in an office chair with O. I was letting the weeks before get gone, while I grabbed on to something new. I know by now that if you don’t let go and grab on, let go and grab on, let go and grab on, a million different experiences will turn out differently than you expect and that factor alone will that turn you into one harsh fucker. Suddenly you’re the kind of girl that’s flipping off cabbies and assuming everyone’s out to steal your wallet. And, I don’t want to be like that.
I woke up the next morning insistent on continuing my hunt for new scenery, so after a meeting in Union Square I took off for East Village and this little coffee shop and beer bar I’d stumbled on with a friend weeks before. I’d met the barista in passing, and I’d liked his vibe. But I doubted he’d remember me.
He didn’t, that much was clear. I sat working for three hours on a draft and he took my drink order twice without showing any recollection of my stopping in before.
I reminded myself that this is New York and I’m new. “Of course he doesn’t,” I thought. And for a moment New York was his – this barista in East Village. I was thinking on his experience in the city and how there wasn’t any way that it had anything to do with me. “Man, I’m silly” – that’s what I was thinking.
I cashed out at 8:30 with my laptop bag slung over my shoulder and my umbrella tucked under my left arm.
I was signing a receipt and thinking about the pasta in my fridge when he cocked his head and said he knew my face.
I smiled, “It was here two weeks ago. I was a with a guy friend – real tall? He was visiting me for a week.”
He shook his head and winked at the guy beside me, “I don’t remember anything about a guy,” he said. “But I remember you. That’s for sure.”
I said thanks and told him my name after he introduced himself properly. I waved, as I was leaving, and he called out across the shop that I should come in and work on my writing at his spot again, soon.
I nodded and opened my umbrella outside, ready to walk to my PATH station, along my 9th street in my New York.
Just like that, I was back to making a home out of a thousand different faces on a hundred different street corners that, one experience after another, were telling me this city loves me, just the same as she loves everybody else.
O texted a little later.
“Champagne and brunch…
May 17, 2012 § 25 Comments
I’m having this struggle. Burning, churning, making my gut wrench struggle. I walk down 1st street with my heart on fire. The separation of church and state – it’s going on between my temples in the worst way. No, it’s not that. It’s bigger than that. I’m a woman, now. I buy my own things. I feed myself. I put a roof over my head. I go out when I want. I come in when I want. I cuss when I want to. And, when I know I shouldn’t – not because I believe there’s any kind of negativity in the words themselves – but because I’ll lose my audience, I try not to. I’m a woman working in the field of woman’s development. I get on planes by myself. I started a company. Along with it, I’m learning to ask for what I want out of a relationship.
That’s something they tell you you can’t do, at a Christian University. I went to one. They told me I needed to wait for men to want me. They told me I couldn’t want them first. They told me to wait to be wanted.
But there’s this revolution, see. It’s hit the streets of New York and it’s calling us out in throngs – into bars and coffee shops and down the nuts and snacks aisle in Trader Joe’s on Sunday afternoons. It’s not generational, and it’s not counter-religious. It’s cultural. It’s spread across the board of age and occupation. It’s called authenticity. Twitter started it for us. Twitter, because twitter taught us to stopped following those girls that bitch about their breakups and to start paying attention to the women that were “fucking angry” the week of the Egyptian woman in the blue bra. We gave up inappropriate drama – the kind you want to unfriend on facebook because it won’t stop updating how it feels about it’s ugly ex – for the kind you’re dying to watch like a firework pealing across the skyline. These girls showing up in our feeds? They were authorities. They were brilliant. They were starting something – the girls who couldn’t stop e-cussing because they were so god damn pissed off about what was happening in the world of women’s rights about them. They didn’t have time for you if you were complaining about their language. They were in the middle of a revolution – a revolution women were being kicked around the street for. There’s language for that. The phrase, I think is fucking brutal. Those bastards. Kicking women in their bras around the street. Being kicked on the ground is fucking brutal. And Mona Eltahawy wasn’t afraid to tell us so – the systematic degradation of Egyptian women needed language.
Instant information has changed everything. Now, we watch this stuff on youtube – and the people you-tubing it with their phones? They’re typing expletives and feelings and developments as they go, and they’re coming right to your phone – live. So, you’re more engaged than ever before with the world around you.
Don’t you get it? It’s about what they’re saying. Don’t get so caught up in the presentation that you can’t see it. It doesn’t matter anymore if girl is cussing while she tells you about it. She’s telling you about it. Look around. No one else is experiencing the way she is.
Pick up your pace. Catch up. We’re professional women. We’re professional woman comfortable with our bodies and our revolutions and our alcohol on Monday nights – and we’re talking about it. We’re saying what we want. We’ve got chutzpah in our veins.
Can you feel it?
We’re the ones changing your world. We’re the women starting our own businesses and clothing lines and starting revolutions in Egypt – the women who say what we think. I’m the bottom of the totem pole. I’m a freshman, a new beginner – the pond scum the big kids push around. I hardly know what I’m doing, except that there’s this raging, pounding, churning revolution around me and it’s telling me to get it out – and to say it how I want to. Censorship is dead. The age of typos and cussing and talking about my sex life being the bane of every company’s existence is over. Now, the lack of authenticity, the stuffiness, the lack of personality – it’s leaving you behind. And me? People are calling me up to come speak because I say what I think. And, that’s what’s next. That’s the future. It’s got me giddy inside. I’m doing a dance in my room.
Honesty. The way I feel it. The way I want to tell it.
Therein lies the gut wrench. The dance stops. The music fades. My glass gets nailed back down to the counter because you’re telling me to stop. You’re telling me to wait again, to listen again, to censor again.
I’m writing things you don’t want to read. They’re coming out of me like big, weekend explosions. Word vomit. They’re not about the revolution in Egypt because I’m not there. I’m here. I wasn’t in Uganda for the women that ripped their shirts off for freedom of expression and got their boobs grabbed by police while they were shoved into taxis but I sure as hell was in Sunday school when they told me I couldn’t buy tank tops because the boys might be distracted. I sure as hell was in Sunday school when they told me “sexy” was sinful, when they told me to keep my legs shut and my mouth closed and to look for a husband to direct the rest of my life – for a man to submit to, lay my life down for. I sure as hell was awake when the damning text messages came in the first time it came out I was supporting a man, instead of being supported by him.
I’ve spent hours on the phone defending my right to choose – to choose my words, my wardrobe, my relationships. I’ve been kicked around in the worst way in a world where autonomy doesn’t make any sense – a world where the women I know stay sexless and quiet until marriage and sometimes afterward. And god damn I tried so hard to be one of them. I tried so hard. I tried not liking boys. I tried not liking beer. I tried hating cigarettes. I tried giving all three up for lent.
I hate lent.
I was a contortionist, changing and shifting and moving to try and fit in this little box someone created for me. And I don’t want it anymore. I like my tank top straps the way they are, my tattoo where it goes – and I like my beer to flow freely.
I shouldn’t even have to be talking about these inalienable rights.
But in the world I grew up in – you do. You’ve got to fight your ass off for an ounce of respect after you sleep with a man outside of marriage, let alone a woman. You’ve got to pound your damn head against the wall to get anyone to hear you when you say you’ve found a balance in your relationship with god almighty and vodka crans on Friday. Nobody believes you. They don’t think that balance is possible. They think it looks one way, it goes one way. And they read about your honest writing and your tweets and your coming out of the closet – no matter what sex your partner happens to be – and they label you as one of the sad ones, the ones gone astray.
You’ve left the fold.
They make you choose. They make you decide. Religious. Not religious. Like you can check it off in a box the way they expect you to check off your orientation, your drinking, your marijuana use.
And, it’s not really about whether they think you should or shouldn’t. It’s about your right to express it. Your right to process. It’s about they way they’ll string you up for the word you chose to use, the partner you chose to have. Was everyone listening when that brief for conservative fundamentalists got sent out last week?
“As people who promote personal responsibility, family values, commitment and stability and emphasize freedom and limited government we have to recognize that freedom means freedom for everyone.”
I’ve got my inalienable rights. What I’d like is the respect I need to explore them without a label.
Well, what if I smoke a cigarette every two weeks? What if I’m not a smoker, but I smoke when I’m drinking jack? What if I had sixteen drinks last week, and three this one? What if I’m a really healthy individual – I drink my carrot juice, I eat my apples, and I like two beers every night. Damn, that means 14 drinks a week, checking a box in the doctor’s office. That’s high on the doctor’s scale. He’s giving me funny looks now. He’s checking my heart. Do your math, doc! It’s not a big deal.
We’ve been cringing. Or, I’ve been cringing. You know, I tried to talk about my experience with a deacon who chased me around my parent’s church with a figurative Bible held over his head writing letters about me and taking surveys on my modesty. I was 19. He took me down fighting, and he ruined my reputation for wearing bikinis on the weekend. When I tried to blog about it, the phone-calls shut me down. All these well meaning busy bodies calling to help me deal with my situation in humility and submission.
Inalienable rights. I needed to blog. Does the church understand? That would have been healing. That would have brought me back.
I need healing. So, years later, in New York city with the clothes I love and the shoes I can finally afford – sitting with a great big sigh coming out of me for the autonomy I’ve never had – I’m starting to write about all the things I’ve been told not to.
And I’m walking down first with my heart pounding because of the disappointment I feel when I think that maybe I don’t get to be honest. I don’t get to let it out. I don’t get to be real – not me. All those girls that grew up and rejected their faith – they do. Those people that came out of the closet and said they didn’t want faith anymore – it was clean for them. My friend Caleb calls it a burden I’ve got to figure out if I’ll shake or not, this “faith thing.” He tells me it’s still inside me, tying me to a background I disagree with on a fundamental level.
I had a roommate that told me she liked to live in the pink and blue and green and grey shades of life.
“I like it all,” she smiled at me. “It all teaches me something.”
Then she told me she loved Jesus. And Hillary Clinton.
That was the week Obama got elected. I pasted a poster of his beautiful red, white and blue face above my desk where I could look and see the sun go down behind the capitol building every night.
I didn’t tell my family. Obama didn’t fit in the box – I was un-contorting secretly.
But is that freedom at all, the kind where you uncross your legs and get your head out from under your armpit where no one can see?
I live in pink and grey and green and blue – but can I write about it? Can I talk about it? Man, that’s the kind of writing I ride google for. I’m all over this laptop trying to find people pouring all the ugly, beautiful, horrific things out of their souls so I can find myself in it – get a piece to rip out of it and scribble into my journal.
So, if I talk about the real stuff – the desires and events and people and places that are boiling up inside me and asking for words – the kinds of things I’m starting to tell my editor I need an alias before he publishes – will they make me choose? Do I have to check the box? Faith, not faith. You don’t get to be complicated here. It’s black and it’s white.
I need a god damn sharpie to scribble all over this chart.
That’s what my heart looks like.
I moaned about all this to a friend turned mentor over breakfast a few years ago on the corner of First and Adams today.
He told me he understood my dilemma. He said it was difficult. Then, he said that his one consolation was, “they can’t take it from you. That – your religious freedom – your freedom of expression and choice within it – is the one thing they can never take.”
He told me it would be difficult – that it would rip me up inside the way I expect for it to. My life would be excruciatingly painful for a bit – a lot like coming out, but less clean, when I came out and told everyone that I loved God a certain way, but it didn’t look like they wanted it to.
Then he told me authenticity was the most important thing – he told me to choose wholeness, whatever that looked like. And, it certainly didn’t look like climbing into an evangelical box or judging myself on a faith meter a sexually frustrated deacon with a pot belly told me I should live out of.
When it comes down to it, I guess that’s the whole point. It looks messy. It looks a little discombobulated. But it certainly doesn’t look like beers on Monday nights and black bras under my white tank tops or the way my navel ring clicks against my high waisted red shorts when I walk.
No. If you can see it – it’s running much deeper that. And, you’re missing the point if you’re going to gasp about where I slept over two weeks ago, or that pack of cigarettes I split with someone in East Village because I was having a particularly stressful day. The fucking point – if you can see it – is that I’m finding my place, as a woman. I’m throwing off all the things they told me – about being defined by a man who knows his direction, and gives me mine, about losing my sexuality in modesty, about losing my soul in obedience and the reality of what I want in the willingness to let go to the wishes of those running this big machine. I’m losing the things that made me never want to darken the door of a church again.
In my soul, my heart, my throbbing head – it’s the getting rid of the old that’s bringing in the new. It’s a re-appropriation, a disidentification. A friend who came out at 20 wrote to me that, “It will be crucial that you continue this ground breaking work inside of you for the full act of disidentity to be successful.” He talked about extracting power from stigmas, challenging preconceived notions and ultimately tearing down walls of oppression.
“No more of this ‘women in bras being kicked around and felt up’ or waiting in humility, covering and denying your steaming natural sexuality bullshit for the sake of a man’s desire for control of your/their body and your/their mind,” he wrote to me. “I love how you’re still writing about balance – between your life and your faith. Because, I can tell, you are and then again you’re not ‘losing your religion.’”
Someone asked me this week what I’d teach my children – if I’d have them go to church, if I’d push them in a certain direction, tell them how to believe. “Will your family be religious?” they asked me.
God. I just sat on their couch and stared and didn’t have an answer. I don’t. I really don’t have an answer. See, I’m discovering truth organically – truth you can’t discover with someone breathing down your neck. And that’s new for me. The hairs on my neck are still raised. I barely got out. But I did get out. And here, where I can breathe, I’m finding that “The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it!” And I have to believe that, “All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
I’m finding that the whole “settle our relationships with each other” bit is a wildfire.
A friend I parted ways with badly last year is getting on a plane to my city soon because, like James Taylor tells it, he
Got a letter from a dear friend of mine, the story of a spiritual awakening.
She spoke of her love returning in kind, she let me know that she’d be waiting.
And I should be on my way by now.
Walking across the floor, reaching for the door, on my way by now.
That letter was all full of purple and grey and green with sharpie scribbles – spiritual awakening gone rogue, coming out my insides.
I don’t remember when I sent it. But I have a feeling it was right about the time I began to understand that there was something sacred about trading in my secret love of foul language for an open love of people, and my fear of my family’s opinions for reconciliation with the people I had gone head to head with in college. It was the month I lost all recollection of how it felt to be told my sexuality was evil, and found a man to discover – and discuss – it with, instead.
Love of mankind instead of his religious systems. I’m on the front lines – can you feel it? Maybe you don’t like the way it sounds. Maybe you don’t like the way it looks. Maybe you don’t like the way it’s presented – but it’s the real deal. It’s a revolution, no matter how you present it.
May 16, 2011 § 3 Comments
Today, I received 3 different kinds of entirely disheartening (and personal) news. For the first time in a long time, I sat in bed and I cried. I got out of bed once, then got back in bed and cried again. My best friend showed up, about ten minutes later, and crawled into bed with me while I cried. That feeling of incompetence is the worst. Life gets bigger, somehow, with sorrow – all these things you didn’t know could happen, and that are entirely out of your control. I called Jeremy, after that, and he told me I should do whatever I want today.
“But I want to stay in bed,” I said.
“Okay, then stay in bed!”
I thanked him, and told him that was a horrible idea – “I have to do the next thing, it’ll keep me moving forward.” The first order of business was to shower, to throw my hair up in a pony tail, and to make chilaquiles out of my left over nachos from this weekend. Next, a friend picked me up to go to a local coffee shop where I could work, and she could study for finals.
I’ve been sitting here for almost two hours now, working on social media connections, re-filling my calendar with boutique and stylist meetings for when I arrive home in Nor Cal, forcing myself to laugh at things I would normally find funny and, quite simply, doing the very next thing. Life has come back, as I’ve sat here. Everything is not okay, per se, but its not impossible to deal with.
In the midst of looking through my facebook page updates, I found a blog from Merakoh on running the risks in life. I’ve copied a large amount of the text here because, like her, I was inspired by her son’s tenacity and insistence on keeping on keeping on -
I watched Blaze stand on the beach, waves rolling up to meet his toes. He was weighing the pros and cons. The day before, he had been stung by a jelly fish. The pink jelly fish in Thailand can be as big as my arms, circled in the shape of a letter “O”, floating silently along the water’s surface. The motors of the long tail boats chop the jelly fish up, so that random tentacles are left to float (never losing their sting). One of those tentacles wrapped around Blaze’s leg–twice–and oh, did it sting…
Blaze swears he is done swimming in the ocean for the rest of our trip. After all, this is the second time he’s been stung. He’s now one sting ahead of me and Pascaline, and two ahead of dad (of course). But the next morning, I watch him from a distance. As the waves roll in, I can see his mind mulling over the idea of risking it again. Whether he likes it or not, swimming is his passion. Does he risk it again? Or does he give up swimming for the rest of the trip?
He whips around and comes running to me. He just lost his front tooth a few days ago, his smile is wide and toothless. There is a red line that still shows on his leg, wrapping twice above the knee. “Can I go swimming this morning?!” he asks. I smile. He’s decided. I know he is nervous, fully aware of the risk he’s taking, but he is still willing to risk again. I’m so proud of him. I’m inspired by him. His passion for swimming is more powerful than the risk of being stung again.
There is no warning of a jellyfish coming your way. Like unexpected criticism or momentary failures, they can surprise you when you least expect it–when you are swimming–laughing from a place that’s deep withing your belly. The stings can happen at high tide or low tide. They can happen whether you know how to swim in deep waters or shallow waters. And it doesn’t have to be the whole jelly…often the small, unexpected jelly pieces hurt the most. But, to swim in Thailand, you’ve got to step into the ocean. You’ve go to risk being stung. And once it happens to you, you are acutely aware of the fact that it can happen again. But that’s not all you are aware of…you are also aware of the fact that you will survive another sting just fine–and possibly love the thrill of swimming that much more.
May 14, 2011 § 2 Comments
I come back, again and again, to Deb Talan’s writing:
Someone who is real, oh, gets in the way
and moves inside my heart, not just my head
interfering with how I want to feel.
How do I want to feel, I wonder?
Talan’s words – “how do I want to feel, I wonder?” were a sign in a series of signs pointing to the need for solitude, this week. More than that, they were a sign that I needed to ask myself some questions again – about who I want to be, how I want to feel and what direction I should be heading in to get there. Nate Riggs and his article “Alone with Your Goals” came next. Then came Anne Morrow Lindbergh and her book “Gift from the Sea.” Her writing came in like the winds of change, ushering in a new season of reality, and a new way of looking at things.
After reading Lindbergh’s chapter on seasons in relationships, I called my mother and we talked while I walked on Huntington Beach for a half hour. My solitude, this week, felt like the shedding of an old skin.
Are any of your goals conflicting? What choices will you make and why? Are there goals you’ve reached already? What’s next? Have your goals changed? What should you do now?
For me, reflecting on my goals began as something personal during a discussion early this week with Jeremy. I asked him for the week off, afterward, and he gave it to me – without reproach. We texted throughout the week, but I took time to be alone – to remember who I was, the things I wanted and the reasons I was or wasn’t working toward them. Mostly, I just took time to remember to settle with something Lindbergh wrote -
Can one actually find oneself in someone else? In someone else’s love? Or even in the mirror someone else holds up for one? I believe that true identity is found, as Eckhart once said, by ‘going into one’s own ground and knowing oneself.’ It is found in creative activity springing from within. It is found, paradoxically, when one loses oneself. One must lose one’s life to find it. Woman can best refind herself by losing herself in some kind of creative activity of her own. Here she will be able to refind her strength. Only a refound person can refind a personal relationship.
I refound myself this week, on my brother’s girlfriend’s couch – coffee, books, writing, work for Nakate, photographs. Jeremy and I laughed on the phone last night, after speaking for the first time in a week – and I found that I had the new perspective I had been looking for.
November 13, 2010 § 2 Comments
Wilson shared that he hopes his work will be a catalyst for a movement where we all ask a few more deep questions about the meaning in our lives, and focus less on whether we like our cell phone coverage. Afterward, he was kind enough to get the giggles with me when I told him my grandmother hates Dwight Schrute.
I liked Rainn.
Some of my favorite questions:
Q: You mentioned in your book that you spent a lot of time ignoring life’s bigger questions. What was the catalyst for you to start asking them again?
A: I think what forces people to kind of look at life’s big questions is, you know, when they hit a brick wall or they come to a crossroads or they’re miserable enough and their life isn’t working. That’s when people kind of go, “You know what? I need to really take another look at what’s going on with me. Where am I? What am I about? What do I believe? Where am I going?” And that can lead to even bigger and bigger and bigger questions. … I hit a point like that in my late 20s, early 30s, and that kind of got me thinking about questions of faith and philosophy again.
Q: Your book talks a lot about exploring creativity and spirituality – how do you feel the two work together?
A: I think they’re a single expression. I think it’s an expression of humanity’s need to transcend the material. When you are making art, when you’re worshipping, even when you’re just deeply and truly engaged in your life, that is all the same act. It’s using the same muscles.
Q: You do a lot of humanitarian work, especially in Haiti. Does that work fit into finding the answers to life’s bigger questions?
A: Absolutely. One of the things I left off that list of what we do as humans that transcend the sheer material, is to be of service in the world. I think that’s an expression of worship, to help other people. I think everyone has a natural inclination not just to be selfish. We also have a dual inclination to be of service and help others and that’s a spiritual act.
Q: Your book asks a lot of questions. What are the biggest ones, for you?
(image via SoulPancake).