The Shadow of Consciousness


picture by Lazarus Kauffman

Human potential is the same for all. Your feeling, “I am of no value”, is wrong. Absolutely wrong. You are deceiving yourself. We all have the power of thought – so what are you lacking? If you have willpower, then you can change anything. It is usually said that you are your own master.” Dalai Lama

I am sitting in the starbucks near my house early in the morning, something I have not done in almost a year, and started to play with the words of my mind to see if I can bring back the gift of writing into my life once again. I used to write one or two articles per week, and now I am to one a year. I lost my passion sometime in the middle of a very busy schedule and the tedious awareness of my own loneliness in the place where I live. I think I even lost myself while the feelings of “I am not worthy” started to resurrect from the midst of my own insecurities. It is very interesting that even though people think I am a really good organizer, my own self betrays me telling me the contrary.

Something else has happened, I have been working among women for the last 2 years, in my own organization and in Knoxville. For the first time in my entire life I have been called “sexist” because of the way I treat them. I was very surprised when I first got called this because my father always taught me to respect and honor the women around us, and as a gay man, and a minority, I am always very careful on the way I treat others. To the contrary of what others may think, there are times I feel devaluated from some of my women compañeras. There are times I have felt verbally attacked, and my very human retaliation has been through verbal defensiveness. The more I work among them, the less worthy I felt. So I started wondering if my “sexism” is been confronted, or my “own value” is been challenged.

I was very surprised of my own reaction, when I was placed in a closed room and my weaknesses were shared to me by two compañeras. For the first time I sat down there, breathing in and out, and listening to what these two people, I care for, were telling me. I sat in silence, without setting up a target. Pema Chödron says: “Remember that we set up the target and only we can take it down. Understand that if we hold our seat when we want to retaliate—even if it’s only briefly—we are starting to dissolve a pattern of aggression that will continue to hurt us and others forever if we let it” (The Place That Scare You, pg 110). But when I arrived home I crumbled, drowning in my own thoughts and questionings. Is it possible for a gay Mexican man to be sexist? Is my own battle to feel worthy as a minority has created a stronghold in the form of an “ism”? What kind of attitudes, and reactions do I need to watch out in order to maintain the respect to my fellow compañeras? How can I learn from all these so I can connect with my own heart?

The ironic in all these is that in my last job I worked among men, and that did not help either, especially because I worked always hiding who I was, pretending to be a very cool pastor and a great husband, but inside of me knowing I was living a lie. The interesting thing in this situation is that I thought women were my allies, or that I could identify with them easily, and now I feel totally confused because it is hard to connect with men, women or even members of the LGTBQ community.

I went from having a very active social life, to a bohemian hermit; from weekly gatherings at my house, to none; from enjoying solitude to disliking loneliness; from seeking spirituality, to pushing it away; from a writer to a facebooker; from a fake stability, to total transformation of my patters, habits, and whole being.

I consider myself a human being in construction; this means that I do not have my life already built. Honestly, since 2009 when my life came to a stop and everything that was supposedly established felt down, I have been trying to rebuild every area of my life; self-love, and self-value has been the most hardest ones to take care of it; and now in the midst of my organizing work and the hectic of planning a major campaign in the county where I live to stop the activation of an awful ICE program, I have found myself swept by the business of creating a more welcoming place for all immigrants and their allies to live, that I totally forgot about my persona. That is why this coming weekend I am taking some days off to have a time of retrospection and intense search of who I am as human being. Henry Nouwen said, “There is a twilight zone in our hearts that we ourselves cannot see. Even when we know quite a lot about ourselves-our gifts and weaknesses, our ambitions and aspirations, our motives and our drives-large parts of ourselves remain in the shadow of consciousness. This is a very good thing. We will always remain partially hidden to ourselves. Other people, especially those who love us, can often see our twilight zones better than we ourselves can. The way we are seen and understood by others is different from the way we see and understand ourselves. We will never fully know the significance of our presence in the lives of our friends. That’s a grace, a grace that calls us not only to humility, but to a deep trust in those who love us. It is the twilight zones of our hearts where true friendships are born.”


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