Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
When I was growing up, my father used to praise my ability to articulate a singular point of view, eloquently and convincingly. He would joke that I had a future career as a lawyer the way I could craftily present my case and supporting evidence, particularly when defending my younger brother. In Undergrad, I studied Advertising and envisioned for myself a career where I could appeal to an audience by packaging my point of view with persuasive language and creative imagery. Even as a teacher, one of my main writing objectives for my students to master was to be able to develop and sustain a thesis and build whole papers around this idea, argument, or theme. So it's funny to hear myself more recently described as mercurial or watery in regards to my fluctuating point of view. However what some may trivialize as caprice, I have identified as the opening of my mind. Trying to be right all the time is dreadful; being a "know it all" is oppressive. What a relief to finally admit that I don't know all the answers, that there is so much more to learn, that what I know is merely limited to the experiences that I have been privy to experiencing (remotely or intimately). My opinion, my perspective, and my lens is not the end all to be all and thank God for that!
I have since learned to back down in arguments not due to lack of a stance because Lord knows I am plenty opinionated. Winning arguments, fighting fire with fire, and competing and combating have simply become far less satisfying. I'd much rather cultivate my mind by allowing the space for new information/ view points to emerge and fresh experiences to present new evidence to me; I want my mind changed. Traveling and experiencing life outside of America would be futile and counterproductive to me and for us if I truly believed that I knew everything there is to know and have seen everything there is to see. The purpose is to stretch my mental capacity and bear witness to what else is there, out there. The venture begins with receptiveness and a genuine curiosity.
“There is a difference between revisiting and reevaluating the past and residing in it.”
My approach to traveling and expanding my world view directly correlates to how I strive to engage in my marriage. My husband is a sum of all his parts, meaning he comes with his own stories and stuff just like me and everyone else. It is through our conversations and the swapping of life experiences that help us understand each other more deeply. I am constantly learning and relearning him, which means I have to remain educable and fluid. For me that often requires turning off my analytical brain and activating my open heart and empathetic and nonjudgmental listening ear. I do not see it as my role to internalize, personalize, or psychoanalyze my partner's words and actions, combing through verbal and nonverbal details is a job best allotted for detectives and trained professionals.
My interests lie more in sharing these honest self revelations than on proving, defending, interrogating or justifying. As partners, we are best friends and active listeners for each other, not therapists. Humbling myself and shutting my damn mouth is crucial. It is also critical to be aware that we are shape shifting, every day. Exploring and experiencing so much newness together is transformative; we are being heavily influenced by our present. Growth, individual and collective, would be severely compromised if we insistently and exclusively stuck to our monologues and self prescribed versions of what we have always been. There is a difference between revisiting and reevaluating the past and residing in it. As we embrace our present and future lives together we will naturally include our cultural, historical, societal, familial, and personal lineage. My goal is not to be limited by any of it.
How do you stay open-minded? Share your methods with us.
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