Dancing with our demons: artistic perspectives on inner struggles

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There are a lot of things that art, broadly speaking, does for me. During tough times especially, I appreciate the opportunity to get beyond words and into something deeper, vaster, and paradoxically more accessible, if less explicable.

Here are four dance performances that illuminate the challenge of staying on one’s own path, which to me often feels a lot like going against the grain. The differences, gross or subtle, between what I believe and what I value, and how I live. The various arguing inner voices, the wrestling-with-angels, the sleepless nights.

I highly recommend watching full-screen with a good headset or speakers. I have to believe the third was inspired by the second, but who knows? The last one gives me the most hope, though I reject the implication that we need to buy anything in order to liberate ourselves, as it were.

I’d love to hear how you interpret any or all of these performances, how the lyrics resonate with you (or not – honestly I’m so moved by the physical performances it’s hard for me to pay attention to the lyrics!), and/or to see any art you’ve made to represent the struggle of remaining true to yourself when it feels like you’re supposed to stay within the lines. ❤

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How to use privilege effectively: a lesson in two parts from Hank Green

I am thrilled about these videos from Hank Green.

If you’re not already familiar with him through any of his video series (including vlogbrothers, CrashCourse, and SciShow), Hank is a very influential person within the YouTube universe. He is also a heterosexual cis white male who uses his position of power to advocate for YouTubers who don’t necessarily hold that privilege… many of whom are trying to make a living (or at least, earn some money) by sharing their videos on the platform.

Short context, which he does cover in the first video below: there are some YouTube policies that are currently affecting the LGBTQ+ community in a way that simply boggles the brain. As in: certain religious groups are paying so that their anti-gay videos will run as “ads” before videos created by and designed for the LGBTQ+ community. Meanwhile, YouTube has also changed certain policies so that it’s harder to earn money by posting content that is LGBTQ+ inclusive.

Hank’s righteous anger, condemnation of policies, and his very firm request that YouTube fix the problem — complete with suggestions for how they could do it! — give me hope that humanity might prevail, even when The Algorithm fails us.

Thanks, Hank, for showing us how to use privilege effectively!

The Way It Is: a poem by William Stafford

The Way It Is
William Stafford

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

Getting over the fear of failure (I crashed my bike)

I made this video ages ago for work and even though we decided not to publish it, it’s still one of my faves 🙂 especially as it’s all about the inevitability of crashing, which I hope can paradoxically motivate all of us to get over our fear of failure.

Thanks to my colleagues Cat and Nadim and Kylie for the motion graphics savvy — turns out it’s not easy to, say, “draw” a red circle into a video, much less one that moves! — and to Luda for moral support always, including encouraging me to share this one ❤

The view from “down there”

In the last coupla weeks I’ve managed to delete my Facebook account, get sick-and-then-better, demonstrate the high-level function of our relationship by making it through a 3-day power outage with minimal food wastage (we ate well!), attend a meditation retreat, and discover dozens of beautiful, brave people who are fighting the good fight(s) with regard to identity politics on Twitter.

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I’m working up the nerve to write (but mostly still grokking how to connect the dots, and deciding how much I am actually willing to share) something that somehow weaves together the male gaze, heteronormativity, my own internalized beliefs about fashion and fitting in, representation, aging, model minority stereotypes, growing up bi-racial in a predominantly-white, very privileged community, the tension between building a platform that “scales” and staying 100% committed to my own voice, the dangers women face for expressing any sexuality, one (or more) of my #metoo stories, and what it means for me, as a woman of color who has so often reported to white men (I currently report to a Māori man), to fully step into my power.

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It’s probably more like 12 pieces to write over the course of the rest of my life. Every other hour, I convince myself that I just need to keep meditating instead of attempting to make sense of it all, much less write it down for an audience.

In the meantime, I will share this stunning Janelle Monáe video, from which I have stolen the above screenshots:

I really don’t want to ruin it with any more commentary BUT (I can’t help it!) it gives me many of the same magical, tingly, “we got this,” “it ain’t all bad” feelings that this Bomba Estereo video also evokes:

May I one day master my craft to the point where I too can wrap the messages I’d like to convey in packages as powerful as these.

How to permanently delete your Facebook account (while saving as much of it as you can for posterity)

I spent an absurd amount of time over the 4-day Easter weekend bumbling my way through the process of permanently deleting my Facebook account while saving as much of it as I could for posterity. As far as I can tell, there are 6 things you need to do BEFORE requesting that Facebook permanently delete your account to ensure that your data is as protected as it can be, and to make sure you still have access to as much as you can reasonably collect from Facebook before saying goodbye.

Read my full writeup: How to permanently delete your Facebook account (while saving as much of it as you can for posterity).

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Please let me know if you’ve figured out something more efficient / effective!

 

Presentations of self

As soon as I posted my last video it occurred to me: what I said was sort of true, but not nearly a COMPLETE representation of my experience of identity growing up. I thought about deleting the whole thing, but then I realized it was actually quite interesting to think about why it bothered me so much to leave an “incomplete” presentation of myself up on YouTube.

So many questions around how we present ourselves to others, and why!

Is it even possible to fully represent ourselves, in all our complexity, to anyone? How would we do it? Would it be worth the effort?

“What are you?”

I am Chinese and Canadian-European (though to be honest I’m not sure if I marked that or the “American European” box on the New Zealand census last week) with both American and Canadian citizenship. Oddly, moving to New Zealand has made me feel more culturally Chinese.

But there are so many other ways that we identify ourselves. People like me often get asked the question I’ve used as the title to this post… which, incidentally, is not usually considered respectful, in case you were wondering 🙂

Americans love to ask “what do you do?” as if that is the only way to define who someone is… and that’s a question I also find really limited.

How do YOU identify?

Getting out of my own way

For years I told myself I wasn’t cut out for a 9-5 job. When I ditched that story, I found a job that ultimately inspired me to move across an ocean. As of last week, this has officially been my longest stretch of employment ever (not counting the years I worked for myself) and I’m not planning on leaving any time soon!

I mentioned Rachel Meyer’s piece, You Are Not Your Story, for Down Under Yoga. I just adore Rachel’s writing; check it all out (and sign up for her e-newsletter!) on her website!