Today is my 29th birthday. In her acclaimed novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston wrote, “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” My 28th trip around the sun was one of being questioned, asking questions, and questioning e v e r y t h i n g. I can’t yet say much for year 29 for it just began today, but I can say I have a visceral kind of feeling that it will be one that answers. For my labor, a year of questions, is not in vain — toiling with crises for entire seasons on end, unearthing struggles I thought I already confronted yet here they are again, wrestling with all things from molehills to mountains and then some. This year put me and brought me through it.
Black Woman Poet Lucille Clifton reminds me:
Parts of me experienced a thousand tiny, sharp deaths all at once. Death is a funny thing, a hard and hardened and hardening thing. Death shows you exactly who you are, whatever means brings it round your way. This weekend’s theme was made possible by a Black Lesbian Mother Warrior Poet who lived and died and lives yet still. Audre Lorde coined and gave life to Self Care, a thing so far removed from the poetic theory and careful practice she wrote of in one of her last published works, A Burst of Light, a collection she finished as cancer ate her body.
“Caring for myself is not self indulgence, it is self preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” The quote we know all too well, stripped of context, of meaning, of politic, allowing white supremacist capitalist cisheteropatriarchy to convince queer and queered Black Women and Femmes (of all fucking people) that we must run ourselves so ragged laboring for every and anyone that a Self Care weekend like this is necessary at all. It’s like holy scripture one verse plucked from the Good Book made into exegetical bullshit.
What we don’t know is Audre Lorde was explicitly political and deeply personal in her thinking and art making. She wrote in the same essay a few lines before, “Overextending myself is not stretching myself. I had to accept how difficult it is to monitor the difference.” Just after she wrote, “It is about trying to know who I am wherever I am.”
The forces and principalities of this world are trying to eat us alive like a cancer. We were never meant to survive, Beloveds. And yet. Take abundant comfort and radical hope in one another, in the power of the And Yet. We are here and been here and will be here. A ethereal reminder from our ancestor(s). The highest, most sacred form of Self Care is remembering your Self, is reclaiming and recovering You every single day.
Let this knowing infect your consciousness. Let this knowing help you determine your values, your politics, your care, your work, your love. Let this knowing guide your decision making, from the small business to the monumental. You are your best work, Beloveds. You are you best work. Become. Your life. Our lives depend on it.