A whole lot of things have changed. My outlook on the world had shifted along with how I perceived myself. Wandering around a what seemed to be broken country, picking up pieces of myself along the way. Decades have passed but the one thing that has always been prevalent is my heightened sensitivity and awareness of my emotions. I’ve been aware-yes, but the understanding wasn’t clear until recently. The struggle of searching for such understanding pushed me into dark places and into unforgiving friendships and relationships. I’ve lost myself many times, each time rising to a new level as I continued to learn and grow despite however low my depression managed to take me. No matter what, love came to find me one way or another, in people, places and in all the quiet moments to myself in between. I found something so empowering and self affirming in those moments these past few months, as I allowed Octavia E. Butler’s writings to imprint itself on my heart and encourage my desires to be openly outspoken. She has aided in this season of my life in many ways, giving life to my newness in the artistry while teaching me so much that which I hope to share with someone else.
Thursday, August 1st-
Today marks a brand new month of opportunity. It is a few days after my return from Jamaica, for which I had the pleasure of attending another beautiful wedding for one of my close friends. Exhaustion crept over me as I had shed countless amounts of joyous tears, laughed achingly and hugged longingly, to every person in my path, as if we were meeting for the first or last time. Experiencing a sense of tiredness I had not known was possible; a magnificent emotional draining caused by happiness. So much so that I could feel the necessary changes coming into my life in addition to everything else I had seen in the months prior.
This upcoming change came from a memory. Skimming through some of my books in my apartment, an old picture slid out from one and fluttered to the floor. Easier as it would be to just pick it up, instead I met the photograph on the carpet of the bedroom. I sat with my legs folded under me with my elbows meeting my knees, eyes fixed on the forgotten moment. My mother had captured the first major change in my life: the night before I was scheduled to leave for college. My face covered in tears behind a mask of tissues as I attempt to hide the fear and sadness I felt leaving this place of comfort for something that I would not know if it would give me the same or anything at all. As always, there sat two of my best friends, Da’Chele and Cierra, eyes red with tears but trusting this leap would not only keep us together but knowing our friendships could grow stronger because of it. I was saying goodbye to Kansas City for the first time. As this picture stayed with me, Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Talents helped me bring so much to light and solidified a decision that had only been waiting for me, to make happen. Here is what she gave me:
It focuses our dreams,
Guides our plans,
Strengthens our efforts.
And offers us
Octavia E. Butler-Parable of the Talents
I would say that I had found my purpose but what I had realized is that I had more so accepted my purpose rather than finding it. It had always been with me, nestled between insecurity and self doubt, an unfortunate hiding place. Butler’s writing allowed me to be open and honest with myself about having real strength and courage in myself. I was able to see the greatness and uniqueness that I was so keen on seeing in everyone else. Belief. A word that I had written, spoken and seen so many times and in places but had missed all these years when it came to my own purpose. I had also learned that belief, no matter how small, was a process that I need to not only see for myself but what I needed to sustain my sanity and to shape the destiny before me.
There was so much to take in from the above quote from Bulter’s novel. For those that knew me, even a little, knew that I had a large network of friends and acquaintances that I adored and appreciated, each for their individualistic views and personas. The diversity of this group of people expanded my knowledge and perspective of the world. Thankful for its lessons, propelling me forward through life’s challenges and difficulties; dealing specifically with death of a loved one. One of the key themes throughout the book is accepting that change is inevitable and how important it was to live and grow with the change. Not necessarily bracing for these changes but taking what’s valuable and pushing forward with positive intent.
In Butler’s novel, the story is told from the point of view of a daughter who is learning and admiring her mother through journal entries from before and after she was born. We see her questioning and finding understanding for decisions her mother made for herself, her daughter and for her community. This was something to observe as I have contemplated some of the things my own mother endured and the life choices she made for herself and our family. A few days shy of 30 years apart, I saw myself in my mother in many ways. I also saw a resemblance between her and the protagonist, Lauren. The persistence to bring people together, the fire of resistance that she displayed with every challenge that came to her, and of course, the love for her child(ren) that can never be matched. With the loss of my father 5 years ago, I witnessed a continuous rise of the most virtuous woman I’ve ever known. She gave me permission to feel all the hurt and extract love from its depths. It was never easy, I know, but she did it. I watched her love herself and everyone else around her back to life. An inspiration like non other.
For so many years I saw my raw sensitivity as a weakness and for the same time questioned why I was given what seemed to be the burden of feeling everything, joys and pains to the core of my being, physically feeling all the chaos. But that wasn’t what I was made for. I now know I was meant to share this part of myself with my community. Through my writing, I’m certain I’m meant to help others feel again. To trust again. To find love with who they are and be a light for other’s hidden purposes. The question now was where was I to start this domino effect? That photograph found gave me the answer I needed. Hello again, Kansas City…Let’s begin.
Written by Michelle Hill
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