Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Nia: Using My Power in the New Year


This has been a very full December. I've got to so many great things in such a small period of time and I feel as if my cup is truly full. As I sit at my desk now contemplating how grateful I am, I can't help but focus on what a young lady said to me after the Dec. 18 show at the Potter's House.

After I came off stage, this young woman came up to me and said, "You were great. You have such amazing power and you inspired me to use my own power. I have power, too!"

This exclamation from her took me so fully by surprise, as you can see, because I've been thinking about it ever since.

Power. The idea of power usually brings to my mind a struggle or bullying situation where one person is lording authority over another. I guess, I've always-- consciously or unconsciously-- perceived the idea of power negatively. But, in that brief encounter with a encouraging audience member, I was presented with an alternate idea of power and how it can be something to influence, inspire and promote positive change.

Now, don't get me wrong. I've been writing for years in blogs and articles about the positive influence of peer pressure by youth doing positive things in their schools and communities. But, to have that idea be looked at in another context and in reference to me and the work I do as a performance artist really had me evaluate who I am on a deeper level.

I will be honest. This year, while bringing me some really amazing opportunities and experiences, was one of the hardest years for me when it came to handling the energy sent my way from those in my circle of influence. I had folks I've admired from afar commission me to work on projects with them and then turn around and present my work as their own. I've had folks that I've met over the past years through creative work welcome me into their circle of sisterhood, only to find that there is a fine line between the idea of sisterhood and the actual practice of it. This year has been very challenging indeed. Yet, as I remember what the young lady at the Potter's House said to me, I can't help but know that there is a greater purpose to what it is that I do and who it is that I am that I am not clearly able to see right now.

Today is the fifth day of Kwanzaa, Nia, which means purpose. It's the African name my mother took on as her own when I was young and it is the name of one of my younger sisters, so I hear this word a lot in my own life. But, what does that mean, to have purpose, to live a purpose-directed life if it is not clear exactly what your purpose is? Dr. Wayne Dyer has said often in interviews that I've listened to of him that he has never been one to create goals but he has always known that his purpose is to help others by using his own life experiences as a catalyst to discuss, examine and share. He said that he did that when he was recovering from a tragic childhood, substance abuse and even now as he lives with cancer.

As I process, I think recognizing my own personal power and its influence on those who come into my realm of experience is my first step in living my own purpose-driven life.

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