The State of Having 32 Flavors

Some of my favorite lines of one of my favorite songs of all times:

Squint your eyes and look closer
I’m not between you and your ambition
I am a poster girl with no poster
I am thirty-two flavors and then some
And I’m beyond your peripheral vision
So you might wanna turn your head
-Ani Difranco, 32 Flavors
I’ve had a lotta years to think about why these lyrics resonate with me and I with them. And in various iterations of my life, known as seasons to me, I think they resonate differently. But one thing that I can consistently count on resonating about these lyrics is that they speak to the complexity of the human mind, body, and spirit. And it’s this complexity that attracts my curiosity and wonder, which is why vulnerability works for me. Usually vulnerability [in the appropriate context] provides a window into someone’s complexity. They aren’t just one, two, or even three flavors. They are 32 flavors and THEN SOME!
It’s this capacity for mystery and depth in the human spirit that gives me hope. Hope that our complexity will be nurtured to health by love, and that this will lend itself to creative and compassionate responses to systems that want to keep us simple and un-thinking.
I’ll evade your definition of me every time it’s placed on me. I hope you will too.

Let Me Complexify This

Welcome back to the blog! After some writing absence (aka a period of an innumerable amount of writing assignments wherein I had little time to write here), I am back to the familiar presence of blog writing. I welcome hitting the “new post” button and being able to read your comments. Let’s sojourn together.

Complexity has been on my mind lately… primarily because I love categorizing… I categorize an idea as illogical or logical, sensical or nonsensical, feasible or unfeasible, unique or trite, authentic or a platitude. It’s so much easier to classify something or someone by one defining characteristic because getting lost in the complexity of nuances is tough and it requires much more energy than a quick categorization and write off. Let’s be honest… when one is tired after an arduous, frustrating week, it’s much easier to write a person off as a friend or enemy simply based upon his/her support for the war or Barack Obama or say, Taylor Swift. It’s easier to chalk someone of another faith up to “he/she just doesn’t understand the truth.” It’s easier label someone an illegal alien without considering his/her life story and what is at stake for him/her. It’s easier to demonize someone from the other end of the political spectrum than to listen to the rationale behind that person’s thought.

And I like the easy way out.

It’s easier to forget that this world and the people who inhabit it are extremely complex. And as easy as it may be to categorize someone, it is just as unhelpful. Because though the stereotype may be correct, when we use a label, we almost always lose something. We lose the fear behind the hate that he is showing, we lose the hours of grueling studying she put behind that grade that we are jealous of, we lose the excitement behind that idea that she just put on the conference room table, we lose the vulnerability that it must have taken him to admit he was wrong.

Acknowledging the complexity of someone is also acknowledging his/her full humanity.

It is the way of life but is often the least easy.

 Can you identify?