The "year with bell hooks" Project: Letter #004
All About Love: Commitment - Let Love Be Love In Me
Hello, hello, and welcome to our new readers! Wishing the best of Black History Month to us all, even outside these 28 days! Mkay — let’s get into this week’s letter, shall we?
Self-love cannot flourish in isolation - bell hooks
It’s now week four into the “year with bell hooks” project. Four weeks of transformative thoughts. Four weeks of feeling seen. Four weeks of having the words to describe what’s going on - internally and out.
Chapter 4 was (surprisingly?) challenging to digest. Is it because things are easier or appear safer because of only head knowledge and mindless doing? Or is it because this self-love (that addresses all parts) – moves from head to heart? Requiring what we know to shift to what we know, become and do?
I think it’s that it’s easy to hide behind knowing. Answers seem clear, etc., etc. But to merge our knowing, being, and doing? That’s the hard part. The real part.
As I reflect on this chapter, I’m reminded of my desired word for the year – wellness. Without this chapter’s insight, I would’ve found it easy to engage with this form of love on a surface-level, dreamy sense, not as something raw, truth-filled, and possible.
Possible is the word I use because doubt is a space I find myself in often.
Doubting if it’s (the love, the experience, the connection, the event, etc.) real.
Doubting if it (my dreams, my goals, my desires) can be for me.
Doubting if I can become/embody what I desire.
And while doubt gives space to voice the words, feelings, and thoughts often hidden, the environment of true love - from self, from all, makes room for those doubt-filled and reminds us that we are safe to let go.
To move – in a way that no longer leaves fear and doubt as chokeholds in our journey.
This love —
a combination of trust, commitment, care, respect, knowledge, and responsibility
All About Love - p.54
— is the type of love that makes transformation possible.
In the six pillars of self-love shared in this chapter, self-responsibility (among others lol who am I kidding) is where I know my self-love would be more apparent in my life. Physically, mentally, financially, and spiritually.
I’ve often repeated to my close friends how much I love Octavia Butler and her writings, and most especially her Parable Series. Here’s a part that I love.
All that you touch
All that you Change
The only lasting truth
-Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower
According to the Book of the Living, all humans are Earthseed, because we have the ability to perceive Change and all humans have the potential to be Earthseed, when we Shape God with wisdom and forethought, generosity and compassion.
the willingness to take responsibility for my actions and the attainment of my goals…for my life and well-being
All About Love - p. 57
Then, the very things I think of as wishes or only by crossed-fingers can instead be actualized for me in the now. It is possible. Like Lauren Olamina in Parable of the Sower, I, too, can shape my destiny.
bell hooks says
women (and all genders) may feel the need to pretend that they are self-loving, to assert confidence and power to the outside world, and as a consequence, they feeling psychologically conflicted and disengaged from their true being
All About Love - p. 60
Ironically, this space is named “The Conflicted Womanist,” as you know. I’m not saying this name will change, but I’m sharing that as I look back to who I was back in November 2020, I felt this deep inner divide – what I presented on the outside and the thoughts and ideas I wrestled with on the inside - bringing all sorts of conflict (whoosh) nearly every day. It was a grasping for what could be, or at least knowing that answers are there, but I didn’t yet have the words/complete guidance on getting there.
However, it is because of Black Feminists and Womanists (+ their literature) that I am who I am, where I am, and how I am today. I’m nearly a year and a half into this conscious self-love journey.
From bell hooks, Octavia Butler, Mitzi J. Smith, Toni Cade Bambara, Zora Neale Hurston, Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, Wil Gafney, Hortense Spillers, Buchi Emecheta, Ijeoma Umebinyuo, and the countless Black Feminists and Womanists with whom I have the honor to journey this present life with – daring to love themselves to wellness in a love-less word.
They inspire me to shift and change to wholeness – and I am a better lover, Black feminist & womanist, writer, and human because of them.
Until next week, and with love,