Writing a monthly reflection is a challenge when every week feels like a year. The emotional journey each day brings is vast and expansive, while the physical journey remains confined to the distance between my bed and kitchen. The social climate screams for participatory action as the health and safety climate demands stillness and separation.
Living in this time of extreme contradiction is overwhelming, uncomfortable, and often paralyzing.
As someone in the performing arts, I’m being asked to reinvent what it means to create and express. As someone who works in education, I’m being asked to question what lessons and values are worth sharing. And as someone with a desire to see a better tomorrow, I’m being asked to unlearn historical inaccuracies and indoctrinated biases.
It is this unlearning - and the reflection of past unlearning - that helps quell the overwhelm. I’m much more proud of the unlearning I’ve accomplished throughout my lifetime than I am of the learning. For the most part, to learn I simply had to show up, with a marginal amount of interest, and maybe put in some effort. This nation’s educational system was rigged in my favor, and as a boy in dance, studio owners and teachers went out of their way to present opportunities for me to learn.
It’s the unlearning that requires real work, which is also what makes it the most rewarding.
I’ve had to unlearn internalized homophobia and misogyny to be better to myself.
I’ve had to unlearn heteronormativity to be a better friend and partner.
I’ve had to unlearn aspects of my dance training to be a better artist.
I’ve had to unlearn the American Dream to design a better career.
I’ve had to unlearn white supremacy to be a better educator and citizen.
I’ve had to unlearn the idea that any of this is a destination and recognize that the unlearning will continue throughout my lifetime.
And I’ve had to unlearn the belief that a contradiction is a binary conflict so that my overwhelm can be accompanied by extreme peace, my discomfort can be met with pleasure, and my paralysis can breed innovation and creativity.
“To attain knowledge, add things every day. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.” -- Lao Tzu