to BE, to be CLEAR, and to be clear TO BE.
I stepped onto the platform, and I could see pity in their eyes. Not compassion, not empathy but pity. I was less than because I was vulnerable.
“… but I haven’t even opened my mouth yet!”
That’s right. You haven’t Dolapo, but your presence brings with it a strong odor, and here, authenticity is a foreign currency. People here don’t reveal their true selves, we convey thoughts, maybe ideas, not identity. People here are too smart to give away ammo to foes and friends all in the name of “getting to know me.” Such a dumb thought!
I grabbed the mic and began my speech. It was gonna be a short one, I thought.
”People of humanity, I am disappointed in myself. For far too long, I gave you power over me and you abused me. For far too long, I have blamed you for abusing me. For far too long, I have blamed you for my powerless, hopeless state.”
I took an extended deep breath and surveyed the room. In an ironic twist, they hurt me all over again. The audience was unmoved. Little girls kept playing skip ropes and their parents were on their phones. Some texting, others watching music videos for a new hit song that was released within the hour — “I love me” by Identity Twins.
”Even now you do the same things that tormented me! I was a slave of your interest. I was a slave of your action. A slave to your reactions, your tensions. I counted likes and comments the same way a farmer counted his harvest. Your interactions felt like food to my soul. I obsessed over how many conversations my art could generate. In that short attention span through the window to your soul, I tried to halt time and arouse your senses by the stroke of my pen and the acting to the foolishness it created.”
Still, only one more person turned over. Sadly, I lost the only other guy listening to me intently. I was losing my 💩. How do I get the attention of these people to tell them that I am free of needing their attention???
I stormed out. Took an Uber. When the driver arrived, I asked him to forget the address I entered but just drive for an hour through the most beautiful parts of town he could think of. He said, no.
”Enter an address or get out of the car!” he said, rather politely. More politely than the sweet tone of his words. So I entered the address to my room in hopes that he would get me there. My room, not my home, I entered. The only decision I felt left in me was to decide when to weep profusely at my abject failure. He read aloud the address to my house and with rage so profound, I pounded the back of his headrest. ”I entered the address to my room, not my home! Do you have a way to get me to my room?” He took a long hard look at me and again with pity in his eye, he said, ”sure, I’ll take you to your room.”
Somehow he knew that my perception was altered and I really did believe that there was a price to make anyone, even a random stranger, do my bidding just because it made me feel alive.
Arghhhh… So that is it.
I am a slave to validation because it is proof that my creation is beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful. I have made an extension of my identity chained to the suggested applause of men. My art sought freedom in the brandishing of your admiration.
10 minutes ago, I thought I had it. I have an epiphany of identity. I was gonna storm the world, rip up its red carpet and reveal myself- reveal me, the real me, the new me, the best me.
“its a boy!”, I longed to proclaim.
I was sure of who I am. I was sure of whose I am. In my certainty, I omitted the obvious. If I find myself 10 times over, I cannot be free. For freedom is a choice to be. Freedom is not merely an equation of balance between what people want me to be and which version of me is convenient and accepted.
Freedom is simply, to be.
To be, to be clear, and to be clear to be.