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The Beginning

Truthfully, there was no real beginning to this. Rather, it was a sequence of synchronicities and personal revelations that drew me to where I am now. One idea folded into another, and then another, and so on. Ultimately, my objective here is to provide readers with different perspectives as I sift through my own reflections and experiences.

Perhaps not in a straight line, but it does all draw back most definitively to August 28th, 2020.

I had been active with the protests since May 30th. Truth be told, I was not prepared by any means for how it was about to change my life. The first night I went out, the entire city of Richmond, Virginia- alongside many others in the country- was literally up in flames. I'm not talking about an occasional trashcan fire every few blocks. No, there were police cars, dumpsters, and entire buildings that were engulfed in flames. You could not swivel your neck without seeing red.

Moving on into August, I had just moved 600 miles away from my home state. I was two months into a six-month lease in Louisville, Kentucky, and had found myself wrapped up in the midst of 6th & Jefferson and Injustice Square. I felt like my life finally had a purpose; though that soon became my only motivation. I was carrying the weight(s) of the world on top of my shoulders, and underneath of it was the strength of my legs. I was rushing for months between my full 40-hours a week, an hour-long commute, and The Square. Step-by-step, every day, like clockwork. There was a lot involved, spanning from running to the store for supplies to last-minute excursions to different locations. One of those locations was Washington, D.C. for The 2020 March on Washington.

I first heard of it through the grapevine. All of a sudden, people were conversating about this big trip to D.C. for a mass march. Conversations about hotel arrangements, how to transport security, the benefits and downfalls of different means of travel- it all came about almost instantaneously. Being that I had just moved from Richmond, and that right outside of D.C. is my hometown- I took it as a good opportunity to participate while also being able to soothe some homesickness that had recently begun nestling in my chest.

So I went.

In hindsight, I should have known, even just by the processes alone that it took to make it there, that something was about to happen. For all the hours I spent planning and making myself arrangements, they were spun off at the hands of people around me. I was snapped around for the sake of others while simultaneously unable to reach any tangible amount of unity I had come to experience. I found myself exposed to a series of multi-faceted and high-intensity situations (and arguments) that had absolutely nothing to do with me- but threw me into a state of severe anxiety, nonetheless. That anxiety did, however, eventually transform into an important realization.

Coincidentally, prior to having this conversation with myself, I had recently been engaging with others at The Square about the importance of taking care of yourself first in order to be able to most effectively serve the cause. I must have verbalized it aloud at least 20 times before this day:

You cannot pour from an empty cup.

This phrase took on new meaning for me when I checked my surroundings in D.C. that day. I was simultaneously surrounded by thousands of people who were present for a mutual cause, but still found myself alone and abandoned by those I had been basing my then-current identity off of. I evaluated myself in a state that left me desperate for understanding. While I was still embracing my passion, I was falling short on the things that were keeping it alive; my patience, my confidence, my trust, and my faith were all falling behind in my efforts to keep up. The physical toll that my schedule was taking on my mind and body was nothing compared to feeling mentally and emotionally desolate.

I couldn't sleep that night. I decided to cut a 5-day 'vacation' into a 2-day trip. I cancelled the remainder of my reservations, told a few people I wouldn't be able to stop by, and stared for hours at the closed black-out curtains that were separating me from the nightime cycling into the morning. For the first time in a long time I told myself, "we need to talk".

And throughout the 9-hour return drive on the 29th, that's exactly what I did. I elected to observe myself more objectively for the first time in a very long time. A large portion of that time was spent carefully considering all of the advice I had been extending to my peers. Where was I practising what I was preaching, and where was I being hypocritical? My biggest fear was the image of a sanctimonious self, and that fear is what ultimately gave need to correction. That drive reminded me of how challenging being honest with yourself can be, but by the end of the drive, I found myself feeling more at peace and clear-minded than when I began. Before the drive was over, I came to bear a fond remembrance of a very simple, yet transformative, thought-process that I had discovered years ago,

We are simultaneously responsible for and dependant on ourselves for our own happiness and wellbeing.

Be about your own words, and stay solid within yourself. Remember, no one else in this world has true control over your life except for you, and trust and believe that if you maintain pure intentions- karma will eventually fall by your side.

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