January 27, 2021 | RJSH

a lot of noise, some boundaries, and a hug

Mark Konig

“Boundaries are the distance at which I can love you and me simultaneously.”

— Prentiss Hemphill

Admittedly, we’ve been quiet on the internet lately, navigating our personal and political storms. Within these storms, we’ve noticed a lot of noise on (social) media — some are violent and triggering, some performative and empty, some vulnerable yet hopeful, some patronizing and shaming, some quick-fixes and WTFs, some comical (in good and bad ways), some artistic and tender, and all considered a version of truth by their creators.

Yet to us, everything still felt like a spectacle, a performance of who we wanted to be wrapped up in transactions, not transformations.

We were/are overwhelmed.

We started looking for the things unsaid. What did we do when no one was looking? How did our behaviors shift, even in the slightest, when we weren’t displaying all the ways we were anti-racist or inclusive or allies this week?
How do we find space for ourselves within all this noise?

Here’s what emerged: Like many of you, we’re not sure what to expect anymore in the days, weeks, and years ahead, shrouded by the anticipation of White Supremacist violence and our perpetual grief as BIPOC folks. The noise itself is a drowning.

Yet, clarity also emerged in our practices, some we wanted to share as gifts with you:

  • Slow down, maybe way down. Ambition is great but trying to do it all is arrogant. A very well intentioned arrogance. We can’t do it all and that’s the beauty of our limitations — not to sacrifice ourselves as martyrs (looking at you, BIWOC).
  • Show up purposeful, not perfect. We are flawed and complex humans bound up together in even more flawed and complex systems. Perfectionism is a danger of White Supremacy.
  • Feel your way through. Be vulnerable and intimate. Belonging lives in emotions, not strategy.
  • Trust your own discernment. There’s a lot of noise about self-care, and yes, all important. But on the day you need self-indulgence (gimme that tub of ice cream) or self-soothing (gimme that four hour nap), gift it to yourself without shame, blame, or guilt.
  • Set boundaries with expressions of love and mutuality. Boundaries don’t have to be permanent, immovable, or closures. Boundaries can be openings — for yourself, for others, for the past and the future. Here’s an offering for BIPOC folks, instead of designing boundaries as a form of self-protection, what might these look like designed as a gift to yourself and others?

And we get it. These might be more noise to you, and if they are, cool — don’t hold onto them. Make space for your own noise first.

Another way to ground through noise is a simple hug. We can’t do that here but we hope you feel our arms around you. The noise will come and go, but we’ll still be here, together. 

and, now