Beautiful Friendships by Clara Takarabe
by Mark Chmiel
I’ve been ruminating on your last email.
There are a few things that come to mind really strongly when you asked that question, “what is important and what am I responsible for?”
The first word that comes to mind is “presence.” Presence to what is, especially to oneself. That means, not giving up one’s instincts, being present to one’s own health, emotional and mental, and bringing one’s most holistic self to the world. How many activists come to activism because they are simply angry people, and activism is a sanctioned way of being eternally angry and indignant? How many people show up to the table, but cannot follow through on any needed task, and hamstring a greater movement because they lack integrity? How do we move forward without a great deal of honesty, presence, and also respect and love for one another? Do we really want to move forward with righteous indignation? How much of the Left is marked by the same emotional diseases as the establishment?
I have definitely seen projects imbued with great ideas and great organization, beautiful cooperation—these projects are filled with people who are pragmatic, who possess a certain kind of emotional clarity–that is what they bring to the table. There is nothing that is hidden, there is nothing that can’t be questioned, there are no strange lacunae, no strange black holes or vacua, no glaring silences. Hope, which is important, doesn’t come from covert rage. I don’t think real hope and a path forward come from the lack of openness or from a stomach of fear.
I have sensed profound presences of individuals, you included, where there is a huge force at the table. That is the force of being, of presence. Not the presence of fear, or skepticism, or indignation. Of sheer presence, of being seen, and of seeing. Of being taken in and received and met with a whole response, coupled with respect and openness.
Bringing one’s whole presence, shed of all anxiety, even when there is war, bloodshed, poverty, hatred in this world—bringing one’s presence to the table with openness, I think, would be a new way to proceed.
I have experienced several profound friendships, open, exploratory, raw and fearless, filled with tenderness, lovingkindness, filled with mystery and discovery. And those friendships are a model to me of how I would like to proceed, individually and socially. Maybe that is not realistic, but how can we make this a better world, without these qualities? Is it possible? I don’t mean a world with more alliances of nefarious reasons, but beautiful friendships.
That’s my first thesis. I think the Left could only reject that first thesis, as totally loony and hokey and New Age.