By Dave Bridgeforth
I reserved the first of this year for me —a sabbatical of sorts to realign with the everlasting love that is all around me. I removed myself, I fasted, refrained from sharing myself with the world. The first month had disappeared seamlessly into my solitude, pleasantly, like a lingering orgasm, so personal and sweet. Nothing in me wanted to return back to what I once knew, to the noise that fills all of the spaces on earth or to the world’s constant violent tugging at the purity living within my own heart. I was in a consistent state of surrender; letting go of the ever urgent need for attachment. The need to let others know, the need to express myself to anyone, the need to look outward instead of inward.
It’s quite remarkable how long it took me to die, to give up who I’ve been for who I can become. Two slow and painful years brought me to this place. This journey of vicissitudes, navigating through the overwhelming evidence of people and things deceased from my life to clear the palate for that which is to come.
Forty days removed, this year, I discovered a secret place within— my comfortable corner of space that was bred for healing. A safe spot ideal for evolving oneself, there I was able to see myself fully, detached from what I knew or believed I needed. I was able to become new. Here are some of the ideas that permeated freedom within my soul.
Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions.
— Albert Einstein
Whether you are clear about the power you have over your own life or not, it is evident that your life can go whichever way you imagine. Many times we envision things a certain way and somehow feel married to that way; that’s a falsehood called tradition. One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is to rethink, reimagine, and create a new updated vision for your life that works for you. Blink and reimagine everything until your view is the life you deserve.
The thinking that has brought you this far has created the problems that the same thinking can’t solve. — Albert Einstein
For five years I’ve started every year with DBQ Magazine’s The LOUD 100, a list honoring the year's most influential LGBTQ people of color. This year It just wasn’t working for me. I no longer wanted to celebrate in the harsh cold months at the beginning of the year, so I reimagined everything and moved the whole shindig to the opening of Summer. Instantly, my spirit stood up and smiled, it was electrifying. So, I didn’t stop there, I reimagined my whole magazine. I mean I do own it. I reinvented how I wanted to release DBQ each quarter. Not based on any other reason than what worked for me. I decided I would only print one issue a year, which would be ‘The LOUD 100’ in June and the other three seasons I would ‘break the internet’ with all digital magazines. The peace and alignment that was a result of surrendering to my imagination and following the beat of my own drum were so honoring to the person I have become and the work I intend to create.
Without the vision, the people perish. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. God told Moses, he could have all his eyes could see. The audacity to imagine, to dream, to paint a picture in your mind's eye is the beginning of your power. From there your abilities are engaged by your belief even though you only see the vision in your mind.
Feed your faith.
We live in a world that focuses on limitations versus possiabilities, and most of us were born into notions that are poisonous to our potential, so much that by the time we are old enough to control the narrative of our lives, the most critical parts of our foundation are formed around demeaning lies. ‘Feed your faith and let your fears starve to death’ is a mantra my godfather, Les Brown, shared with me at 16. Weeds grow up in the cracks of sidewalks without any effort, order or attention; but to grow a garden that can feed you and bring beauty into your life, the ground must be cultivated, and you must pour life into it. Feeding your faith is choosing to believe in the possibilities of your vision despite it seeming like a distant dream. It is feeding the greatness that lives on the inside of you with the same fervor that Sandra Bullock kept her eyes closed along with Boy and Girl on the river in that thrilling movie, “Birdbox,” on Netflix.
Stand guard at the door.
I was 21 when Dr. Maya Angelou said something to me along the lines of ‘if you see a bottle with a skull and two bones, you know it’s poison, you pour that into an expensive crystal flute, it is still poison.’ Since then, nearly 10 years later her words and ideas have reached a much deeper level of understanding for me. Poison is poison, you can sip it from the most exquisite crystal flute, and even your loved one could have poured it for you, if it’s poison, it’s poison. It’s your responsibility to stand guard at the door. The door is the gateway of your mouth, eyes, nose, and ears. However, I’ve learned that we have been encouraged against our innate knowing which has disconnected us from loving and trusting ourselves. Therefore, it is easy for us to feel the burning flesh as the poison pours down our throats and bask in the weight and beauty of the Swarovski crystal glass in our hand and tell ourselves all is well because Momma poured the drink. We’ve done this for so long we are desensitized and detached from truth, and I can't help but wonder how many glasses of poison my Momma drank because her Momma poured her the glass.
Many will read into this for its literal meanings, but the point is much more profound. We digest beliefs, ideas, and narratives as facts for our lives because of the perceived value of the pretty package or because it was given to us by someone who we believed loved us. Since that has always been enough disease and curses, have seeped into our bloodstream passing to the next generation venom eating away at the impulse to hope and dream.
It doesn’t matter who put the bleach in your coffee, who made the coffee, if the coffee was sent with love or not. Before you sip the coffee, stand guard at the door.
Transcend Your Trauma.
Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them. — James Baldwin
To engage your own trauma is an act of self-love. Our trauma determines many of our patterns of being and the scar tissue of the spirit is perpetuated in the cycle of our own lovelessness. We are made up of so many inherited grievances. False premises injected into our way of being like a birthright. We are baptized into lies about our own selves, the color of our skin, and even our fate with the Gods because of our sexuality or gender expression. After years of conditioning, we can see the hatred sunken into our faces and the fears that weren’t ours, to begin with, because the world’s initial approach toward us illustrated that we were never good enough in their eyes. That the very society that willed our gifts and talents into their use and benefit wishes to rob us of the freedom that our gifts create.
Self-sabotage is a gift.
Every act of self-sabotage is a gift. It gages the poison in your system and gives color to the dysfunction in your way of being. It is a mirror of the fleeting belief in yourself, the gift has always been that you have and will always have the power to save yourself. No one is going to rescue you. It will be you who will save your life, eventually. So to transcend your trauma, you get to stop the bleeding of your self-inflicted wound.
The sooner you decide to corner yourself to save yourself, the blessedness of life begins. Forgiveness is a balm that regenerates, and when you dare to forgive yourself, you’ve declared political warfare.
Examine your relationship with death.
Most of us are petrified of the subject and are confused with the purpose of death. I've come to understand that death is a part of the process of life, not an ending of it. It’s a point in time, like midnight during your beautiful 24-hour day. The purpose of death, however, is invaluable. It is the process by which anything is renewed. I’ve been dying for quite some time now, the journey of the valley low that enables us to ascend to the mountaintop. The leaves on trees die in its due season, and the trees embrace the surrender of the leaf to make room for the birth of fresh ones.
We all pass through death because the essence of what we are made of will always be. So hold on if you must, leave claw marks in everything as is ceases to be. Kick and scream, beg and plead, you will rise soon enough, joy comes in the mourning.
Self-love begins with a celebration of you.
When was the last time you celebrated yourself because you were worthy? The practice of celebrating who, what, and where you are, initiates precedence of validation. It conjures up a culture of appreciation that follows you. It is the act of turning the faucet on all the way so that the water can run thru. I’ve come to know that celebrating one's self is a daily meditation that manifests a river of overflowing love in one's life. The effort to make oneself first priority and to fill your own cup is good loving.
Freedom is not something that anybody can be given. Freedom is something people take, and people are as free as they want to be. ―James Baldwin
I use to think it was only me that wanted to be free, it was the true meditation of my heart, but I’ve come to know that everyone’s hope and dream end or begins with that seven letter word. A lot of us feel we have some of it, many of us have gripped it by the neck and shoved as much of it into our pockets. Busloads of us were born into it, mixing it with our privilege, stirring it into our tea in the morning. For far too many of us, freedom was a woman we never knew personally.
What I've come to know is however, you knew freedom and however much you have of it. Tear that shit up, drown it, burn that bitch at the stake because that has never been freedom. Take the soot, shape it into your wildest fantasies, mold it into your sincerest prayer and name it after you.