Boy, do we need to talk more about spirituality.

The subject feels so daunting sometimes, though. So esoteric. Even now, still, after our most pandemical year that will not quit, you’d think we’d all be like, floating on air and shit, our auras vibing with one another in harmony, soundtracked by singing birds.

But no. Not quite yet.

Certainly, as the pressure begins to release on the culture, thanks in no small measure to a new president – who, btw, is more bullishly interested in getting (say, vaccines) for America first, in deed, rather than in talking like a bully, while the rest of the world figures the shit out – I’d say we well on our way. But it’s a long way.

I know I am at the gate. Spirituality Air is departing, and I’m on the flight.

My spirit has been overwhelmed for years, by so much emotional rubble. I have been in a sort of self-guided spiritual rehab since the spring of 2019, supplemented with therapy and yoga. Thank my lucky stars I could take the time to put in the effort, because something was gonna give, and I didn’t want it to be me. I didn’t want to break down. I wanted to break through.

And I’ve also always wanted a pony.

Of course, there have been many breakdowns since. Many moments of unexpected clarity and emotion and connection to something so deep and fragile within myself, my stomach would flip. Courses of energy tingling through my body. Come to think of it, always during daytime, under the sun. (I feel you, Inti.)

There has been remorse, and sadness, and joy. And mercifully, a lot less anger.

The fact that our new neighborhood has contributed so much to the healing of my mental health makes me that much more determined to help re-invent the Tenderloin. Slowly but surely, initiatives spearheaded by Matt Haney, the supervisor for District 6, are becoming of public service, and aspects of life in my old neighborhood have improved. Where there were none before, the T now has 24-hour public restrooms. Don’t ask me how many right now; I don’t wanna get it twisted, but there were none, and now there are some. But we can’t have people living on the streets like that, surrounded by drug pushers we all see, with businesses and neighbors living on constant alert and heightened emotion. Not good for anyone’s spirit.

And do not get me started: So…much…community issues illiteracy up and ’round the hills north of California Street, so much work still to do on that front.

But I digress.

The idea to rehab my spirit, I suppose, stemmed from a need to deal with my shit. Being where I am, so far away from so much and so many I once knew, alone with my self; next to someone else I love who loves me, too, for sure, but alone within myself. With who I am. With my spirit. Da fuck did that mean, knowwhatImean?

I grew up real secular, so the spirits in which I believed were Casper and the ones on Scooby-Doo; the funny, silly ones. I realize oftentimes, pop culture pushes us to fear spirits, but always, heirloom culture teaches us to commune with them. Or, at least, to entertain the notion that they might be all around us.

My grandmother has shared with me about feeling some family members’ presence in her house and about dreaming about others and full-on having conversations with them in her dreams. Having grown up in that house, I reckon there’s something there, and I keep it chill with the spirits, y’ know, welcoming and acknowledging them but also establishing boundaries. Like, “I feel ya, bye, y’all take care now!”

And therein lies the rub: Why should we be fearful of spirits, since we ourselves have spirits and are but spiritual beings having a human experience? That’s what I heard when we carefully gathered last August to say farewell to my grandmother’s eldest son.

My uncle was a doctor, a man of science and reason. But he nourished his spirit, and the spiritual lives of his wife and three daughters, who are carrying on with the resilience of that good ol’ Peruvian spirit that courses through our family. Our strength has always come from the sun, and from sticking close or as close as possible to the ones who see us and nourish our best spiritual selves. My uncle and I never chatted about spirituality while he lived, but we did chat and made lovely memories together, and as we gathered that warm (hot) August afternoon in Beverly Hills, to memorialize him someway, somehow, socially distanced and among stars, oh I felt his spirit. That whole “spiritual beings having a human experience” thing, he believed it. And he took care of his family one more time, when he ensured that we, his family and friends, on site and via Zoom hear precisely that at his memorial.

My best spiritual self was buried, on purpose, under quite a bit of shit. And it’s not that I was afraid of the clean-up – bring it on. I’d simply been hesitant to discover who I am, of my own power, and of like, figuring out where I’m headed next, when all I need to be is right here where I stand, right where I’m supposed to be, with me and mine, in celebration.

Now that I am more aware, and understand the difference between not honoring my spirit and taking the time to let it shine, I can make the most of it. For myself and everyone else.

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