There was a time when I felt that I was surrounded by brilliant individuals, and I wondered how it was that they came up with the ideas, thoughts, and reflections that I heard them speaking. I was once a member of a group called Visions Collective, which was a multi-racial/multi-gender/age diverse/sexuality diverse cohort of organizers/artists/academics. Some of the most brilliant people from the Twin Cities made up this group, and for almost four years we met on a regular basis, struggling together on a range of issues that began with the Israel/Palestine conflict and covered everything from war to sexuality. One of the most beautiful things about that group was that we permissioned ourselves to let the journey and the discussion be the outcome without requiring any tangible product. Growth, challenge, synthesis, confrontation, and conflict were the products and they were valued. But, even as a core member of that group, I felt like a fraud. The rest of the folks in the group seemed as if they thought deep thoughts and spent their waking hours dreaming up a better world. It seemed that their brains were always at work behind their eyelids.
I have never been a great thinker. I have always been a feeler and have let my emotions guide my tongue. Often I didn't know what I believed until I heard others espouse their beliefs. I would let their statements feed my emotions and based on my reactions to what others were saying, I came to an understanding of whether or not I agreed or disagreed. And my thought process started when I opened my mouth. And though others found value in what I was saying, I always felt like a charlatan. I didn't sit at home and think about the issues of the day. I didn't and rarely do now, ponder anything. But I am always feeling, there are always shifting morphing tides inside of me that, from time to time, erupt into a thought or idea that I spill out onto this blog, into an editorial, an article or in some other written format. Now and again I find myself in spaces that I once thrived in, those groups of great thinkers that are still trying to figure this world out and make it a better place, and in those places I am given the gift of being able to think out loud.
I have come to understand, though, that now adays my regular engagement with thinkers and philosophers, artists and academics is through the medium of Facebook. Folks like Staceyann Chin often pose questions that provoke long "conversations," artist like Isauro Cairo post photographs that stimulate everything from inquiry to outrage to lust and force me to rethink myself as a man, as queer, as an artist and my relationship to my body, masculinity, and desire.
And I don't feel as if I am a charlatan anymore.
I feel as if I am constantly surrounded by people that think deep thoughts and feel deep feelings, and I have come to understand that I think through feelings. Like an ant, which uses a complicated set of scents to communicate information and ideas, my body mass produces layers and layers of feelings that, in my own internal language, translate themselves into ideas and positions on myself and the world around me. And the world around me and myself seem to become more and more connected.
I find myself drawn, without judgment or expectation, to amazing new and exciting people from my partner David to my colleague Bill Martin, and all through a medium that allows me to engage with the little cues and stories that they tell, sometimes with intention and other times subconsciously, through the things that they post and the glimpses that they share into their lives, likes, dislikes, pains, discomforts, art, and celebrations. And I find myself, on a daily basis, falling in desire, lust, intellectual rapport, extreme distaste, hate, and downright rejection with people that I often do not know or only know through a small picture through a tiny window made up of fancy coding and ones and zeros on a commercial networking site.
But I know that so often the connections I have made in the real world are deepened through the online interactions, and I have made significant and meaningful connections that began as online admiration (or down right flirting) and transformed into real life friends and lovers. And throughout it all I have come to learn more about myself as a thinker and feeler, more about myself as an artist, and more about the world in which we live and the people that are also out there trying to make sense of it all.