SELF WORK: Choice is a Dangerous Luxury

I've been staring at this picture in my phone for months now. Not merely because the composition is sparse but pleasing as I usually desire. Or because there are a slew of Beija Flor Natural products that I've been dying to shout out at the top of my digital lungs. But mostly because the image - uniquely situated in my phone between images of Soweto, almost ancient row houses, the canals of Amsterdam, and literally hundreds of quotes/text art - has started to be a sort of guilting companion to my list of to do's.

[Ok the image ... and several screenshots of the entire Beija Flor Instagram account ... has started to be a guilting companion to my list of to do's.]

[Guilt: the state of one who has committed an offense especially consciously; feelings of deserving blame especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy : self-reproach]

It guilts me partially because in October of 2017, Beija Flor (and a couple of other really cool natural, sustainable, generally do-good/mission-aligned businesses) entered into a product partnership with me where - be clear, none of them were paying for ads, so I do mean partnership - I would incorporate a number of their items into my life, and report back to you all however I see fit.

That's all.

Receive an item each quarter. Use it. Decide if I like it. Tell you all about it of my own accord. 

I even created a cute little editorial calendar around it. We were going to discuss the products I used while - TRAVELING TO ABOUT 14 CITIES IN 2 MONTHS - trying to remain sane and sans acne and eczema and hives and more weight gain ... and with minimal wardrobe, too. 

But let's be real.

The world around us is burning. And though I do mean to the ground, I don't mean irreversibly. 

I mean rather, the way a skilled horticulturalist might burn over dead ground, particularly if it wasn't one,  but instead a skilled crew of horticulturalists, maybe even God in coalition with our ancestors. Or whoever we the deep and deep(ly) conditioned might imagine.

The benefits of the right fire, at the right time, and at the right place can actually reduce the build-up of debris and dead vegetation ... A prescribed burn can remove unwanted plant species that threaten [natives] ... can improve food and habitat ... recycle nutrients ... and promote [growth]. It also helps control ... pests and ... diseases.
— Indianapolis Zoo

[Conviction: a strong persuasion or belief; the state of being convinced; the act of convincing a person of error or of compelling the admission of a truth; the state of being convinced of error or compelled to admit the truth]

My point is: if I had gone nowhere else, I visited San Francisco, Oakland, New Orleans, Johannesburg, Madrid, Philadelphia, and New York City over the span of 30 days - all separate but equal areas of the world, each with their own raging set of inequalities: access, wealth, ownership, education, income ... and on ... and on.

When I finally returned home to Winston Salem, North Carolina, I didn't want to give you all tips on how to moisturize or what sandals were perfect in Madrid and Joburg (neither, is the answer if you're wondering, they have entirely different climates in November). I wanted to sit us all down and ask a bunch of questions - starting with "What the fuck are we all going to do to eliminate at least a portion of the suffering in the world?" A daunting interrogation, if nothing else, I had not the least idea about what pair of slacks that best complemented.

I mean, I get it. I know for a long while I've been able to sit within my own misgivings, desperately hoping that one day you might all vote me the next big It girl - the queen of moisture or travel or books or Instagram-based cooking shows. Listen, neither I nor you really know what I wanted, right? And that's fine because the only thing that matters (for me, at least) is that in the last year, I've made more money than I've ever made in life, I've seen and experienced more things than I ever imagined I might, I could literally, at this point, opt out. I could take up my avocado masks and honey conditioners and recipes galore and live in a room of my own filled with Alice Walker novels and essays and crown myself the queen of whatever self-help/care/actualization niche I deem fit. 

But um, who the fuck cares how much my skin glows if I don't stop to remind us that the world is burning and we're unprepared for the revolution?

And it's coming. Because that's the thing about revolution. We're sentenced to and by its cycles. 

What defines the current crisis as different from those of the past, and unusual, is that the system neither succeeds in meeting the needs and aspirations of countless Americans, nor collapses, as theorized by some analysts.
How specifically might it be possible to move forward, especially in difficult political times, to lay foundations for a transformation in the direction of a serious new systemic answer?
— Gar Alperovitz

Gar Alperovitz' The Pluralist Commonwealth lays out (albeit in an effort to solve for the democratization of wealth) a problem that all of us, globally, are feeling at the moment: We have a system that's broke enough for most of us to hate it, but not broke enough for those who abuse it for the maintenance of power to trash it altogether.  And what the rest of Alperovitz' writing implies is that, even if it's not immediately dismantled, the difficult times caused by/within the system will either get worse or better, and much of that will be dependent upon what we do in the meantime.

So like, yes. I think you should buy just about everything made by Beija Flor Naturals. And bless you if you can enter Concept Forty-Seven and leave without emptying your wallet. 

But also, forgive me for not being able to tell you that without encouraging you all to stop and think long and hard about how and with whom you need to currently co-exist to create the future of your dreams. 

And forgive me once more for encouraging you to - once you've considered the preceding -still pursue all necessary means of hydration and moisture, and, of course, cook your own vegan meal. And, while you're at it, take time to reflect and heal a few traumas just before jogging into action alongside any choice of equally un-ashy homie.

The revolution will not be fulfilled by resentful martyrs. It can't be appeased by one or many lying, acting under the historically inaccurate and ever disproven guise of caring for anyone more than, nor before, yourself. This, to you, I promise.

with <3,