On days like today I am not ready to act, I can only write. On November 8th I wrote a Credo. Actually, on Credo Day at an intensive literature program in New Hampshire I wrote a Credo. The only reason why that fact is relevant is that I wrote that Credo just days before the then largest mass shooting in America had occurred. I clung to my credo that night. I cling to my credo again today; only 15 months later.
I believe in the power of human connection and I am not done writing those words yet.
Two days ago I reread Audre Lorde’s “The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power.” It inspired me to write a different piece, one about the power that comes from feeling as strongly as I do. Chaotically strong. “I have known since a young age that I feel things stronger than the average human,” the piece began. I cut to a birthday card my sister wrote my on my 21st birthday “I remember watching you realize and learn everyone else does not love like this.” I remember learning that too. And I remember forgetting that yesterday and how jarring today felt when I realized how easily others can compartmentalize the day into being just another Monday. November 8th, 2017 was a Tuesday and June 12th, 2016 was a Sunday and I didn’t even have to look up what day December 14th, 2012 was because I already know it was a Friday. I am missing a lot of dates and presidential elections are not mass shootings but these were days I was sure I was not numb.
“I am not a robot. I believe in the power of human connection more than I believe in a Christ or a savior or in myself. It is this very power that shakes me; frightens me; leaves me occasionally feeling paralyzed by my own consciousness that I am not numb,” I wrote.
But on Saturday I felt inspired by this emotional access: “What a power to feel so alive. To have your whole body tingle by your own doing; by your inner craving to access more. To live deeper; to suck out the marrow of life. This power feels best when extracted from and exerted inwards. It feels empowering. It feels erotic. ‘The erotic is a measure between the beginnings of our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings,’ Lorde writes. Lorde, do I yearn for this chaos. Channeled chaos. Chaos that consumes you, drives you forward, fills you with that feeling that you are here and you won’t be and you are all too aware to forget it.” These words feel more haunting today.
I don’t know how to describe human connection except for in the fleeting yet overpowering feeling I get through collectively shared experience. I know that certain chords played on an acoustic guitar bring me back to a type of satisfaction and purpose I struggle to recreate. I know that being in the passengers seat singing Lorde after reading Lorde next to someone who is similarly moved by these very feelings drives me straight to my journal. I know that yellow lighting conversations at Isalita on a Friday evening make me wonder why anyone would ever chase after fame instead of this feeling. What is the career title for this feeling? I know I will go to the career fair tomorrow and want to ask about the companies’ innovations towards a coalition society built upon a deep-rooted empathy for one another and I will be stared back at by the confines of a suit. I know that seeing pink in the sky makes me feel small and that when I read this to my best friend she will correct me and say “smoll” and that I will be physically present but in that moment my thoughts will simultaneously trail me to the kitchen table. Now its 2 a.m. and my roommate is telling a story about being hit by a turkey sandwich and I can still feel in my stomach now how hard I laughed. In fact I don’t even laugh, I honk.
All of my emotions: honks. Loud and impulsive and jarringly alive. I’ve been told that when I smile you can see all 800 of my teeth on display. If my emotions were art I’d like to think I’d gain a spot at the Louvre.
That is all art is: the ability to turn these feelings into something tangible. To channel this chaos. Sometimes this feeling is empowering and erotic and blissful like it felt to me on Saturday. Lorde writes “And there is, for me, no difference between writing a good poem and moving into sunlight against the body of a woman I love.” But on days like today, this ability to feel can be overwhelming. And so I write. And I angrily tweet at Taylor Swift’s passivity to tweet “there are no words” to 85 million people instead of the strong words there are like “terrorism” or “pass restrictive access laws.” And I instead tweet “ahhhhhh” and write this article because I didn’t know how to synthesize these feelings into 140 characters.
Today I can only write. It soothes me and it re-energizes me. Because tomorrow, I fight. Tomorrow I visit https://everytown.org/. Tomorrow I call my senators. Tomorrow I will text ACT to 64433. On Wednesday I will attend “You Can’t Justify Injustice: Rally for Ciaeem Slaton” because sometimes our biggest threats are in the systems built supposedly to protect us. When the issues that drive you are the very same ones that can paralyze you, find the mechanism that keeps you moving.
Editor-in-Chief, What the F Magazine