I am not here for my own inner peace.
No, I am at this for the inner pockets of my wallet. My boss walks into the office, which is separated from the studio by an opening in the wall and turns off the light, leaving me to sit alone in the darkness.
“We are now transitioning into our final pose of class,” she guides. “Take yourself away from the cares and politics of today, and fly safely to your happy sky house where nothing can touch you.” I roll my eyes from the screen to the bodies breathing deeply on name-brand yoga mats. I scan the contents of the table’s glass top: an old computer, a clipboard, a vase that displays ink pens where flowers should be, and a stack of four pads of brightly colored 4×6 sticky notes. “Your house is peaceful,” she says. “Your house is quiet. Your house is safe.”
What would happen if I screamed right now? I wonder. Just threw my head back and shattered the silence with a yell so loud and visceral that it left echoes of its existence for several minutes after. I take a deep breath in and get ready to let it out.
No one wants to talk about it. “Just wait and see,” they say. “What good does the noise do?” they ask. They quiet our conversations for the sake of their inner peace, the carefully curated comfort of their social media feeds, and their closely guarded hearts. “Spread love,” they say as an alternative to telling us to be quiet. “Love one another.”
Here are the notable events of 1941: Captain America punches Hitler in the face, Wonder Woman steps on Nazis, members of the real world either fight or support authoritarianism, African Americans attempt to organize the March on Washington to gain fair and equal treatment professionally, socially and politically, and Langston Hughes publishes “Evil.”
Looks like what drives me crazy
Don’t have no effect on you—
But I’m gonna keep on at it
Till it drives you crazy, too.
I do not scream, at least, not out loud. What I actually do is push the pile of Post-it notes to the floor. I roll the chair back from the table and bend down to drag the pads into a pile and drop them onto the desk. I click-clack my feet back to the table. I drop into the chair. I go back to typing and use my fingernails instead of the quiet beds of my fingertips.
“Let us take our final breath of class,” she guides. “Namaste.” She says. “Namaste,” they echo.
Namaste roughly translates to “the light in me recognizes the light in you.” It is ironic, here, given the day and the climate. We breathe the same air and walk the same streets, but my skin is political, my gender is political, my culture is political, and there is no happy sky house for me to escape to. The recognition, though it may want to be, is not quite accurate.
To listen to someone, you need to be quiet. Most people understand this. However, there is more to it than that. The other person has to be able to speak honestly and emotionally. We, as people with eyes and ears, need to open ourselves up to their experiences and not only hear but see how things that we escape from stick around and oppress the people around us. Once we can recognize that, we can let the light speak. We can let ourselves be bothered, be outraged, and be affected. We can help carry the burden of our neighbor’s fears and concerns. We cross our arms, extend our hands, and from there, we can all march home.