September

I was thrilled to see this image for September in my calendar from Nikki McClure. I love everything about it: LIBERATE, all the books… Perfectly aligned for me with the time now. September marks my official return to the library world. I’m so happy to be back in the library where I belong. Most of the work I do in the world is related to helping people find the resources they need. It’s beautiful to see it illustrated in this way, LIBERATE. Finding freedom, finding a way out of no way, finding inspiration, finding tools and information, finding what’s needed, finding resource.

September from Nikki McClure's 2021 calendar. Image description: black and white image of books stacked floor to ceiling against yellow backdrop with a person in the distant center gazing at them, standing on yellow ground.
September from Nikki McClure‘s 2021 calendar
Image description: black and white image of books stacked floor to ceiling
against yellow backdrop with a person in the distant center gazing at them, standing on yellow ground.

I was talking with friends yesterday about the differences between doing our soul work/heartwork/living our dharma: being on the path, being in alignment– it’s called many different things– and doing what we have to do to survive. The differences between what that heartwork is and what we do to survive as physical beings living within a system of Capitalism.

My life’s work, my heart’s work isn’t always what I do to help pay the bills, to put food on the table. I think for a long time I thought that it had to be. Like if I was truly living my truth, committed to my spiritual path I would only do work that matched that ideal. Like if I was doing anything other than teaching yoga and meditation and writing poems it was defeat/failure/sell out. Why did I think that? Where did that idea come from?

Meaningful work

Right livelihood doesn’t mean having to extract enough payment for my own survival from the things that I love. That takes the joy out, infects love with some desperation and anxiety for me. It seemed cool to make a living doing the things I love and value, why wouldn’t I want that? More power to folks who make enough money doing the things they love to survive and thrive. It doesn’t always happen though. I think it may actually be quite rare.

What happened for me with poetry years ago (why I never wanted to teach, why I dropped out of the scene a bit) has recently happened again with dharma and mindfulness practices. They are vital to me, essential for my own thriving and liberation AND I cannot have them coupled with my physical survival. I can’t have my ability to eat and pay bills and care for my family dependent on whether people want to read my poems, buy my books or sign up for my classes.

It’s possible that I suck at marketing or I haven’t tried hard enough– that may be true. Also, I prefer not to. I don’t want to have to hustle in the marketplace to share tools for liberation. What I am doing right now is feeling immense gratitude that another path opened up for me. I get to fall back on another of my loves: libraries. I’m grateful to have options. I know not everyone does. I appreciate how lucky I am to have many loves.

Love

Anybody who knows me knows how I love me some libraries. They have been essential to my own survival and liberation in a way that’s not so different from dharma. In fact, there’s a lot of crossover the way I see it. I was comparing insight dialogue with informational interviews and they’re not all that different: pause, relax, open, attune to emergence, listen deeply, speak the truth… Helping people identify the questions beneath the question, what they’re really asking, what the need is. (Not so different from Nonviolent Communication either, come to think of it.) The adventure of setting out on a path of discovery, of finding out for yourself what’s needed, what’s true. (Ehipassiko, see for yourself.)

Worldly concerns

It’s been ten years since I was last a librarian: librarian as role, task, job, identity. I was one of the librarians at Occupy Wall Street and it felt important and transformative. As much as I tried to stay off the radar, I did get some attention for it and just like the Buddha taught, I was tossed by the worldly winds: where some people praised me, invited me to speak at their conferences and gave me awards, others blamed me, attacked me, sent me hate mail and stalked me. While some people loved the People’s Library and were inspired by it, some took offense. Whether it was objectively true or not I felt low-key blacklisted in the library world because of my participation. I didn’t/couldn’t get another library job until just now: ten years later.

The air outside is getting a little bit cooler, it’s chilly at night. NYC public school starts tomorrow. September finds me digging out my cardigans, adjusting my glasses and totally giddy about the opportunity to be back in the library again helping people find what they need. Whether folks are looking for liberation, looking to transform oppressive systems or just looking for the bathrooms, I’m happy to help and grateful for the opportunity.

liberation not equality

It’s pride month again and with it, lots of celebration, some grieving, and corporate exploitation/rainbow capitalism – the usual. This year marks Stonewall 50 with people descending on NYC from all corners to mark the occasion of World Pride.

World Pride NYC / Stonewall 50 promises to be the city’s biggest pride yet – more cops, more barricades, more corporate sponsors! If that’s your thing, enjoy it from noon on Sunday June 30 at 26th Street & 5th Avenue in NYC.

I’ll be somewhere along the route of the alternative march. Reclaim Pride Coalition‘s put together a queer liberation march that retraces the original route from the Christopher Street Liberation Day March of 1970 from Sheridan Square up 6th Avenue with a stop in Bryant Park culminating in Central Park. Route details and information about volunteering available here.

My friend Bill Dobbs (who’s being honored by the National Lawyers Guild next week) told me about video from one of the early marches. Here’s some footage from Gay Pride 1971 in Central Park. (I like the moment – around 5:49 – when a white woman realizes she might be a little uptight. lol.)

Happy Pride. May all beings be happy, safe & free.

Here is Reclaim Pride’s Why We March:

We March in our communities’ tradition of resistance
against police, state, and societal oppression,
a tradition that is epitomized and symbolized by the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion.

We March against the exploitation of our communities for profit
and against corporate and state pinkwashing, as displayed in Pride celebrations worldwide, including the NYC Pride Parade.

We March in opposition to transphobia, homophobia, biphobia,
racism, sexism, xenophobia, bigotry based on religious affiliation, classism, ableism, audism, ageism, all other forms of oppression,
and the violence that accompanies them in the U.S. and globally.

We March for an end to individual and institutional expressions of hate and violence
as well as government policies that deny us our rights and our very lives,
from the NYPD to ICE, from the prison industrial complex to state repression worldwide.

We March to oppose efforts that deny our communities’ rights
and that brutally erase queer people worldwide.

We March against domestic and global neoliberalism and the ascendance of the far right,
against poverty and economic inequality, against U.S. military aggression,
and against the threat that is climate change.

We March to affirm that healthcare is a right,
including treatment for all people with HIV/AIDS worldwide and intensive prevention efforts,
and to demand an end to HIV stigma and criminalization.

We are trans, bisexual, lesbian, gay, queer, intersex, asexual, two-spirit,
non-binary, gender non-conforming + and allies.

We March to celebrate our communities and history,
in solidarity with other oppressed groups,
and to demand social and economic justice worldwide—we March for Liberation!