Facebook as Metaphor…

kevin SFI’ve been sitting in meditation for at least 15 minutes a day for the past three weeks. That’s not a lot of time, and I look forward to what happens down the road.It’s been interesting what’s come up during those short visits…taking the thoughts and feelings as simply what they are, and not treating them like facts…it’s been useful.

Energy is just energy, for one thing. Another thing–none of this shit matters. None of it. Pursuing happiness, pleasure, sex, avoiding pain, avoiding suffering, the compliments, the praise, the critics, the assholes, the people who leave, the ones who stay, the ones who got away, the ones you wish would leave but don’t…the list goes on and on when you meditate…and somewhere along the way, I compared thoughts and feelings to Facebook…it’s a “news-feed”. It’s just the news of the day. And tomorrow will either be “same shit, different day” or “new shit, new day.” And then I thought, much like Peggy Lee, “Is that all there is?”

Thoughts have a pesky way of becoming things. I am not those things. I’m not what I post, or think, or feel, or believe, or receive. I’m not the compliments I get, or the praise or the judgment or criticism. I’m something else far, far greater, deeper, more vast and unique than that shallow pond stuff…and so are you.

IMG_4521The mind is like a Facebook news-feed…you tune into it, you say yes to it (remember that part), and it scrolls obediently, updating with more, more, more…and you scroll through and decipher what you “like” and click on it–attach to it–and you judge the posts you don’t like, or you ignore them, or you comment on them…(and by “you” I mean “all of us, collectively”)… and that becomes your mind, your day, your week, your whole fucking life–you identify with it…constantly feeding, posting, editing, judging, liking, disliking, consuming, branding, feeding, giving…and this can (and usually does) lead to stress and suffering, when you spend too much time thinking you are your mind. Newsflash–you’re NOT. Much like Facebook, if I were to ask you what you were thinking about on this day a year ago, you wouldn’t be able to tell me immediately. You’d have to “scroll through your mental timeline” and your old posts to remember, if you could remember at all…and if something super-duper negative happened on this day a year ago, I bet that would be the first thing you focused on…I know I would. Or, if something super-awesome happened, you’d remember that, too…and maybe you’d have regret either way. But remember this–you said yes to it first. Everything that’s in your life is there because you said yes to it, to some degree; that’s one of the things I admitted when I finally negotiated terms with HIV. After that, the healing began from a place of honesty and humility.

Life…real, raw life is what happens underneath, around, and spirals out from the mind chatter-news-feed-stuff. Real life will stop you in your tracks, shock and awe you, heal you, wake you up, piss you off, educate you, humble you, enlighten you, and worst and riskiest of all…it will change you. And it’s happening…right…now.

It’s recommended for the hard of heart…because it will crack your heart wide open.


Thoughts on HIV and NC Harm Reduction Advocacy Day.

This year’s HIV and Harm Reduction Advocacy Day was April 29 in Raleigh. This is my third year attending on behalf of NCAAN (NC AIDS Action Network) www.facebook.com/NorthCarolinaAIDSActionNetworkwww.ncaan.org and NCHRC (NC Harm Reduction Coalition) https://www.facebook.com/groups/ncharmreduction; www.nchrc.org
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There was a sense of being “okay” that day in Raleigh. Underneath what the other advocates and I were doing, there permeated this notion that we were advocating on behalf of those who, for a myriad of reasons, were unable to travel and speak for themselves. Of course that was there. It’s “advocacy’s” definition. It was also fantastic and a little intoxicating to speak with representatives from my district who seemed to “get it”–the importance of access to medical care, medicaid, and other basic services for those living with and affected by HIV. The importance of having more powerful allies, regardless of party affiliation, who took time out of the busy day to spend just ten minutes hearing us, and understanding the importance of our place as North Carolinians. It was great. It puffed me up, and my ego was going, “YEAH! This is GREAT! You spoke the TRUTH!”

Now for the other piece–the piece where the ego meets the awareness–or, the place where the ego meets an obstacle. Not to be a Debbie Downer at all, but just aware…I thought, “That was easy. That was a little too easy.” I was preaching to the choir. In my district, I was lucky to have buy in and face time before I even opened my mouth. I mentioned the agency, Triad Health Project, where I work, and while I was blessed and grateful that the representatives with whom I spoke knew of us and the valuable work we do, and agreed with what we were pitching, I thought–“I wonder how this would go down if I had to fight harder? How would I deal with closed ears, polite nods, and rejection?”

What about those people in our state government who don’t feel they have a dog in the fight for HIV funding, stigma reduction, HIV decriminalization, Harm Reduction Bills, and the advocacy NCAAN and NCHRC do? I want to say to those state legislators the following:
cropped-red-ribbon-tree1.jpgOkay, sure. You may not think you have a dog in this fight. You may think “No way–not my issue, and definitely NOT in my backyard.” But, you DO have a dog, and I bet that dog can fight. And you DO have a backyard, and I bet it’s just a matter of time before HIV and Harm Reduction issues show up in it. So, rather than becoming reactionary, and making a party line decision based on what your party is doing, or making a decision based on fear, on stigma, on belief, even…why not dig a little deeper for facts, statistics, and have conversations with those of us in the state who are living with HIV, with addiction, and with those who are working so hard to insure access to services that provide medicine, dignity, support, and empowerment to those with HIV and addictions…don’t you think that by doing so, you’d strengthen your own “dog” and also make your own backyard a safer, better place to be?
That’s what I didn’t get to say at NCAAN and NCHRC Advocacy Day. And that’s what I think ought to be said, and heard in our state.