bloodletting.

i.
Post-its on the wall.
I belong deeply to myself. ~ Warsan Shire
The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself. ~ Michel de Montaigne
My alone feels so good, I’ll only have you if you’re sweeter than my solitude. ~ Warsan Shire

ii.
Cape Town.
You flew in and out so that you could catch Laura Mvula and bask in her sweet melancholy. Something about her makes you want to hold up a board that reads, “It’s going to be okay, you’re going to be okay”; so she can see it and know that she will, indeed, make it through. But you realise how superficial fan girl love is and maybe that message is for you, a note to self? So you don’t do it, but you do bask in her sad glow, and phew, she takes you to church. How glorious, she sings, this light in us – (the crowd raises their firsts in the power salute) – we are a wonder. And the congregation of natural haired girls with pretty eyes and bold lip colours said, Amen!

iii.
Solo.
You cut your hair. You’ve done it before, but all your friends say it’s because you’ve just had your heart broken. But I’ve been wanting this for a while, you reply. Yes, they say in response, but grief makes us do stupid things, makes things urgent.
You hate that they make sense. Damn them and their righteous attitudes.

iv.
Melancholy.
You swirl it around in your mouth and spit it out like a wine you didn’t like the taste of.

v.
Grief.
Days and days of agony. And opinions on how you should grieve. What is the right way to mourn? This bit is the worst.

vi.
Lemonade.
You were served lemons, and you cut your hair and danced in your underwear, wore a colourful shirt with clashing hues, felt the prettiest you have in a while, and beat your face. Your face. You’d forgotten about this beautiful chubby fat gorgeous FACE. And it’s yours. And you see now, again, because being bald (something about not having the distraction of hair and society’s beauty standards on your head leads you to confront your visage, I mean really look at it and examine every perfecter flaw and surface of flesh) always makes you remember that you are beautiful. My God you’re beautiful! Do you believe it? Believe it.

vii.

Intimacy.
There’s just me.
And all the thoughts screaming into the silence.
But there’s me. I found me, again. Or am trying.
And the taste of it is like smooth sweetness sultry silky
on my mouth.

-ends-

yours,

Dusty

“We’re writers – we bleed on the page.” – a character from BET’s “Rebel”

bloodletting
/ˈblʌdlɛtɪŋ/
noun
1
historical
the surgical removal of some of a patient’s blood for therapeutic purposes.
2
the violent killing and wounding of people during a war or conflict.
Advertisements

the goodbye letters (final)

the goodbye letters

unforgiveness

noun

/ʌnfə fəˈɡɪvnɪs/

  • not willing to forgive or excuse people’s faults or wrongdoings
  • anger or resentment towards someone for an offence, flaw, or mistake
  • feel angry about or wish to punish an offence, flaw, or mistake

Dear Unforgiveness,

It’s so hard to say goodbye.

Holding onto you was how I punished the perpetrators of my hurt. It’s how I would mete out justice. Felt like if I let you go, they get away with it, and that just made me angry as hell.

But you’re too heavy for my shoulders, comrade. I don’t get to keep you and be free from pain, too. How’s that work? How’s joy and love and peace live in the same house as vengeance and resentment and bitterness?

The weight of your presence makes me a prisoner.

The wrongdoing isn’t mine to punish – you had me believing I was qualified to play judge and executioner, but I won’t be fooled anymore – I have better things to do than to hate the people who (and the things that) stole my joy from me.

Even sans apologies – I choose to forgive.

I acknowledge all the harm done against me, but I will not be held hostage by it!

This is for my emotional wellness. This is for victory.

Listen man, I’m not about to be besties with the people who hurt me, but I can release them from the really big, really unhealthy room they’ve occupied in my heart.

And I’m forgiving me, too. Yes – I forgive myself – over and over again. I am worthy of that bit of kindness.

This is farewell, and I’ve sealed it with a prayer and a mustard seed.

So then, goodbye, old friend.

And good riddance!

Weight-less and free,

Dusty

“Hard time forgiving/ Even harder forgetting/ Before you do something/ You might regret friend/ This time I will be/ Louder than my words/ Walk with lessons that/ Oh, that I have learned/ Show the scars I’ve earned/ In the light of day/ Shadows will be found/ I will hunt them down.” Seinabo Sey, Hard Time

“People withhold their forgiveness, thinking that it makes them badass. But really, the unwillingness to forgive is merely the wishing that things were better. You wish that you had better, you wish that someone else were better so they could have treated you better… it’s you making wishes. And that’s not badass. To forgive is to be able to look at the person and say “I accept that you weren’t any better than what you were”, “I accept that you were you and couldn’t have been what I wished you to be”, “I accept that things were the way they were and weren’t any better.” The ability to forgive is intertwined with the ability to accept the reality of the way things are/ the way a person is or was. You stop wishing things and you just accept. And hope is what says to you: “One day you’ll have what’s better.” 
― C. JoyBell C.

the goodbye letters (#4)

the goodbye letters

self-sabotage

/sɛlf/ and /ˈsabətɑːʒ/

noun

  • the act of undermining a personal cause
  • any underhanded interference with personal productivity and work
  • the act or process of hampering or hurting ourselves
  • the act of deliberately stopping ourselves from achieving success

Dear Self-Sabotage,

I’m a perfectionist. It’s a strength, and it’s a weakness. It’s a strength because it pushes me to excel, but it’s a weakness because if I weigh the chances of success, and decide that they are low, I tend to get stuck; or worse, I don’t even try.

You’re that inner voice that keeps telling me I should be working harder, and if I’m not, I’m already doomed. You’ve chained me to a work ethic that’s rooted in believing that I’m not doing enough because I myself am not enough. And so my efforts feel like I’m punching a wall.

I know some of your other lies, too: “No one will care about what you have to say!” and “It’s already been done – except better!” and the most severe, “You’re running out of time – your window of opportunity has already passed!” It’s the most defeating one because it kills hope; and well, “hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life”.

I can barely think for all the lies you scream at me. And that’s your whole point isn’t it? To stop me from thinking, and therefore doing, and being.

I’m enormously talented. Yep – I said it! The opposite has been so ingrained in me for so long that it even feels like a lie to say this – but it’s true. And it’s for that reason –my talent, my drive, my opportunity to give to a world so in need of love and beauty – that I am parting ways with you.

The enemy within, making way for the strength to fight the enemy without.

I will not doubt my success, anymore.

I will not expect to fall as I rise, just because rising feels so far from the ground.

I’m going to touch the sky!

This is farewell, and I’ve sealed it with a prayer and a mustard seed.

So then, goodbye, old friend.

And good riddance!

More than a conqueror,

Dusty

“Unless we learn to know ourselves, we run the danger of destroying ourselves.” 
― Ja A. Jahannes, WordSong Poets

“So I forgive what was taken from me/ I will be free from the picture you paint you see / Tell them ‘these troubles are out of your hands’/ Tell them ‘you’re free to use them to clap and dance.’” – Seinabo Sey, Pretend

the goodbye letters (#3)

the goodbye letters

control

/kənˈtrəʊl/

noun

  • a means of limiting or regulating something
  • the power to influence or direct people’s behaviour or the course of events

Dear Control,

The funny thing is that my struggle to let you go is part of the problem, isn’t it?

On Sundays when I lie in bed and think of the week ahead, I like to know that I’ve already sorted out what’s coming ahead. But sometimes life doesn’t work out the way we plan for it to.

Sometimes life is the maybe, the what if, the in the event that. Sometimes life is full to the brim with variables, and all we can do is let it be.

That drives me crazy. I like for things to go according to Plan A, to be set, to be certain. To complete the sentence with a full stop, not a question mark. Finality.

I lowkey think I wasn’t built for the variable, but I know that’s not the case, hard as it is to accept this truth.

So I’m breaking up with you. I’m letting you go because I know that if I do, I open myself up to a life of adventure.

I know that if I do, there is an endless world of surprises waiting for me. Some are good, some are bad, and that’s okay. Both these will make me better, if I learn from them. If I l view surprises as art, then I can appreciate the creativity of life.

I know that that a hand that is closed cannot receive.

I know that a mind that is bogged down with details and blueprints cannot expand.

It’s not me, it’s you.

This is farewell, and I’ve sealed it with a prayer and a mustard seed.

So then, goodbye, old friend.

And good riddance!

Forever free,

Dusty

“For now he knew what Shalimar knew: if you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.” -Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon

the goodbye letters (intro)

the goodbye letters

fear

/fɪə/

noun

  • an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain or harm
  • a feeling of anxiety concerning the outcome of something or the safety of someone

Dear Fear,

And what will happen if I don’t?

I wish I’d asked myself that more often than the debilitating, “What if I do, and I fail?”

What’s wrong with failing, anyway? Failure is common. What is exceptional is getting up again. All I need to do to get to victory is to try again, with a better strategy of course, but I need to keep moving forward.

What will happen if I don’t, is I will fail for sure, because I didn’t even try.

What will happen if I don’t, is I will never realise my dreams.

What will happen if I don’t, is I will carry potential like rot in my soul.

Look dude, I can’t be held back by you anymore, I have so much work to do still.

So this is farewell, and I’ve sealed it with a prayer and a mustard seed.

So then, goodbye, old friend.

And good riddance!

Fearless and fierce,

Dusty

“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.” – Les Brown

“The Lord is with me, I will not be afraid.” – Psalm 118:6

I am coming home to myself

Let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time, there was a girl who met a boy, suave, tall, dark, handsome. And she fell in love with his afro moon and the way he commanded attention with his charisma. He would write letters, and draw pictures for her, and the moTswana girl would see stars and galaxies when he spoke, shyly flashing the smile she would pass on to her first child, who would be fathered, as it turned out, by this very smooth operator who was the reason she was thinking wedding gowns and cattle already. He looked at her and saw a world beginning, a new world that they would build together and they became, one. This one, gave birth to another one, at the most random time. It was a normal day, and would have been extremely boring had her water not broken in the middle of an isle at Pick n Pay (true story), amongst the soap bars and toothpaste perhaps, with the suggestion of two-for-one specials and 20% off house brand cosmetics beaming at her as she groaned with contractions. I mean, the sky did not move, it was a normal day, when I came, and yet I was here, I too had arrived to this Life that God had made.

As children we read stories that began with “Once upon a time”. It is a decidedly English phrase, very ambitious, I think. It claims a greatness it does not live up to. Once upon a time? Time? Really? Its aim is lofty. But I guess we all have our own ways of storytelling. My once upon a time begins in 1991. It really should have been a “Giringan wa giringan”, or a “Keleketla!”, a “Kwasuka sukela”, or a “Kwath kwathi ngantsomi”. Which are the ways that the vaTsonga, baTswana, amaZulu and amaXhosa respectively, begin their tales.

“Once upon a time”, you see, is not the African way of doing things. In a gathering of say, children and adults, usually women and children, “Giringan wa giringan” is a call to attention. “Gather together”, it beckons, “because a story is about to be told”. The speaker will make the call, and those gathering will respond with “Giringan!”, or “Cozi!”

At different pauses in the story, the listeners will encourage the storyteller with repeated shouts of “Giringan!”, “Keleketla!” or “Cozi!”

So the story would go, for instance:

Storyteller: “Giringan wa giringan”

Listeners: “Giringan”

Storyteller: “Akuri na ntombi yo saseka”

Listeners: “Giringan”

Storyteller: “Leyi a yi tsutsuma ku tlula na vafana va le xikolweni”

Listeners: “Giringan”

And so forth, until such a time as the story is concluded to the teller’s satisfaction. During this interaction, because African folktales are always more dialogue than monologue, the listeners can interject with questions, comments, or even alternate scenes. So it would not be foreign for a listener to say, “Ayi tsutsuma ku va tlula? Njani?” or perhaps, “Jhee!” accompanied by a side eye or some other form of shade. Random story, I know, but my point is that the teller has the prerogative to shape the endings to the audiences’ context, so that the story about how the leopard got its spots ends up with five different variations, because in each context the teller-listener-relationship results in collaboration that presents alternate endings. No two storytellers tell the same story. But at the same time, the listener is implicated in the process; unlike in the tyranny of the text, where a reader is all but held hostage by the fixed nature of the print. In this instance, they are not just listening, they are called on to create as well.

12901429_905340889578640_7407084201092168830_o

Photo: Dennis Ngango

Now, just a moment: I am most certainly a writer, and I love and believe in the power of the written word. But I do not think that it can exist without oral literature, or as I prefer to call it, orature. In the beginning was the word, and the word begat a story, and the story begat a rhythm, and the rhythm begat a revolution. That rhythm is not limited to written words, though there is value in that. Every important thing must be said in a story. Academia is nice, it is necessary, but if we want to measure the zeitgeist, or define it, or influence conversation, one of the places which we must first look, is stories. Stories do all the important work, really, and they are most effective because they are so unassuming. We do not know it, but when we encounter stories, we are in the classroom.

The moTsonga man with the afro moon and the moTswana woman with the everlasting smile welcomed their little girl into the world with enthusiasm, and vowed to send her into the world a moTsonga girl. This is what is right, this is what culture said they needed to do. You marry, if you are his wife, and are born into, if you are his seed, a man’s culture. In addition, they would send her to a Model C school, they would raise her in a township that was predominantly xiTsonga speaking, and they would speak to her in his language. The little girl’s mother would learn the moTsonga man with the afro moon’s language, though she stumbled through it, she soldiered on. They drew neat lines and built their lives within those boundaries, squashing their daughter’s complex identities into a single way of being. She was never Tsonga enough for the xiTsonga speaking people, and never Tswana enough for the seTswana speakers, and yet, here she was, an inconvenient truth. Everything she knew about culture and identity was one thing, but her life repeatedly presented her with contradictions to the ideals of family and culture. She was a deviant, she was other.

I am ‘other’ – a position of not belonging. Because I am a woman, a Black woman, in a world that hates Black women but demands from them constantly. To create, to hold things together, to not break. I am other because I love God in a world that either blames Him for its injustice, or uses Him to cause it. I am other because I am Black – basically, plankton in the food chain of human life. I am other because my father is a moTsonga in a country that reduces us to stereotypes: loud, what they say is ‘unbearably dark’, ugly, smelly, badly dressed, kwerekwere, and the list continues. I am other because I am both a moTsonga and a moTswana, and despite what society dictates, I embrace all parts of my heritage. I am not either/or, I am both.

I am other because I have lived a life in which as a young girl, my white friends wanted me to be myself, but not too much, lest any part of my Blackness disrupt the serenity of their cushioned realities. White people have the privilege of being themselves without consequence for their race. As Ta Nehisi Coates says about “the invention of racecraft”: “they [meaning white supremacists] made us into a race. We made ourselves into a people.”  It is a miracle how we are able to carry on, in spite of… and yet the moment that we ‘show’ ourselves, in a way that is perceived as either negative or positive, we are sanctioned. I understood this as a child, that my place in the world came with the burden of my race, and my womanhood.

Only black people are raced. We could build clubhouses together at the back of the school, but when it came down to it, they would get picked up from school by their mothers, and I would take the bus home, get off at the bus stop, walk home, and open the door to an existence that was as different from theirs as the colour of our skins. And to my Black friends, I was a coconut, the snob who spent too much time with white people, stayed in the house all day, and did not have friends in her own neighbourhood. Always struck me as odd that there were clear lines drawn in the sand for lives that are, very clearly, messy and unpredictable. As though much of our ways of being are not learned and reproduced subconsciously. As though we are not always becoming, shifting and navigating the spaces in which we move and have our being.

We exist in the push and pull. In the tension. Author Ben Okri says of it, “We lead fragmented lives, fragmented identities”. And so the middle, not between two lines but where boundaries touch, exactly at the line that joins two different realities, that is where we live our messy lives.

It is a complicated thing, with a complicated history, but it is not my ending.

12672112_10208615385800402_2212840079539526456_o

Photo: Puno Selesho

Toni Morrison described it best when she said, “We are the subjects of our own narrative, witnesses to and participants in our own experience, and, in no way coincidentally, in the experience of those with whom we have come in contact. We are not, in fact, “other”. We are choices.”

I thought that was so powerful, and it’s a mantra that I live by – “We are choices.” We are crafting a new story each day. We can push back. Despite oppression, despite the fact that my name is not shouted from the rooftops. I slither in silence like a snake, not quite as menacing but twice as deliberate, certain, and present. You will know it when I strike, and I intend to strike.

In every story there is a villain, and mine is a many headed monster: heterosexist patriarchy, is written across the first head. Capitalism, on another. White supremacy, on the next. This is the monster against which I intend to strike.

My country beckons me – it beckons you. Maybe God gave us fragility, our Achilles heel, to remind us that we are only as great as others have allowed us to be. Our greatness is not a solitary project.

In the BBC documentary How My Country Speaks, Lebo Mashile shares what she thinks being a South African means, it is quite lengthy, bear with me:

“South Africa feels like a social experiment with 50 million people trying to figure out where we all fit in. If you are white, you are the descendants of settlers, you don’t fit in. If you are Black you’ve been dispossessed so you don’t fit in. If you are coloured then you’re too complicated, you’re mixed race, you don’t fit in. Everybody can find ten different reasons why they don’t belong to this thing called South African-ness, and that quintessentially is kind of what makes us South African.”

She then goes on to recite a poem. Part of it goes:

“South Africa is a fractured mirror, a paradox of schizophrenic selves who don’t talk to one another, who co-exist together but don’t live with each other. Who fear each other. Who revere each other. Who loathe, and pretend, and try to blend in with each other. And this is the time when you can become the greatest substance of your dreams unless you live in a shack, and don’t speak English and don’t know what this poem means.”

Could it be then, that another head on the monster which is the villain of our South African story, is our wounded-ness? We are haunted by the ghosts of our past, by our pain. Our nostalgic leanings, our desires for an untouched past, to return to a pristine and untouched Africa, are a longing for our wholeness. Coates refers to it as a “return to ourselves”. I think he is talking about healing. He is talking about coming home to ourselves.

I am not talking about the model that the truth and reconciliation commission set forth at the dawn of democracy. It was with noble intentions that they did that, but what it did, was suppress Black pain, and let unrepentant murderers go scot free. The TRC and Rainbow Nation-ism, are part of why I am skeptical when I hear white people, and even some Black people, use the word ‘ubuntu’, or ‘botho’. What they should be meaning is justice. Instead what they mean, more often than not, is absolution from crimes they did not intend to pay for, and the chance to not think about their privilege too much. Think Chris Hani and the wounds his family still carries. Think Nokuthula Simelane and her family’s search for truth for over thirty years. Their blood still cries out. Do you hear it? Or are you more concerned, with living a comfortable life?

We want desperately to know, who is African? Who is not ‘othered’ here? Who gets to ‘belong’, here?

Personally I think that anyone may belong here, whatever race they are, for as long as they get with the program, so to speak. Africa is a state of mind. What drives you? Shared responsibility, common justice and equity? Africa is a commitment. For whom do we build our futures? How do we build? Are we willing to decolonise, so that we can build something new?

Sonia Sanchez said it so beautifully when she said, and I live by this mantra, “I will become, I will become a collector of me, and put meat on my soul.”

And so I would like to start my story again, because mind you, my story is always starting and ending and starting and that is its greatest continuity, the birth and death that is always happening. So yes, let me start again, Giringan wa giringan?

**This essay was presented as a talk at The Park Exchange’s first speaker edition. The theme was “Race, Identity, and what it means to be an African”. It has been edited for brevity and clarity. Look out for the next speaker edition, happening in Pretoria this Saturday.

Power, strength, healing, and happy Africa Day.

Dusty

No one is original. Everyone is derivative. ~ Sonny Rollins

“The Secret Castle” by Ben Okri (audio book)

Ben Okri’s short story as narrated by theDustySoul.

Lunch-with-Ben-Okri-011

An illustration of Ben Okri. Source: here

Love,

DustySoul

You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honour. Aristotle

water (part 2): “…we have come to be baptised here…”

22

2952018405

Koleka Putuma. Photo: Andy Mkosi

 

I often wonder why I feel as if I am drowning every time I look out into the sea

This and feeling incredibly small 

[…]

Every time our skin goes under

The reeds remember that they were once chains

And the water, restless, wishes it could spew all of the slaves and ships onto shore

Whole as they had boarded, sailed and sunk

Their tears are what have turned the ocean salty

This is why our irises burn every time we go under

Every December sixteenth, December 24th and December 31st

Our skin traumatises the sea

They mock us

For not being able to throw ourselves into something that was instrumental in trying to execute our extinction

For you, the ocean  is for surf boards, boats and tans

And all the cool stuff you do under there in your suits and goggles

But we, we come to be baptised here

We have come to stir the other world here

We have come to cleanse ourselves here

We have come to connect our living to the dead here

Our respect for water is what you have termed fear

The audacity to trade and murder us over water

Then mock us for being scared of it

Koleka Putuma, Water

I’ve been thinking about Koleka Putuma’s “Water” (seriously, do we walk the same earth as her? Her poetry is out of this world) and the line, “We have come to be baptised here” is playing on repeat in my mind, and I feel my body and soul craving a baptismal of sorts. A watering. A watering to halt the withering.

Yours,

DustySoul

“Take me to the water/ To be baptized […] I’m going back home, going back home/
To be baptized.” ~ Nina Simone, Take Me to the Water

 

 

Monsters in My Head – For Suicidal Girls Who Struggle to Get Over 

I was sitting in a seminar room with my classmates when our lecturer, after finally poking and prodding an answer out of me, said “Yes! That’s good. Why are you so apologetic about it?”
A few weeks after that incident a friend of mine, a writer I ‘met’ on Twitter, said something similar. I was working at the publisher where his latest book was published, and I was speaking with him on the phone about some admin tasks I had been given to do for him. I must have sounded apologetic then too, because he said to me, “Why do you sound so timid?”

He had read a review that I wrote for a book last year, and in it I had been scathing and fierce in my analysis. Anyone reading it would think “She’s something fearsome. I don’t want to mess with her.”
I realized, once these two virtual strangers said this to me, that I don’t trust my ideas. I don’t trust my mind, and I never have.

I grew up in an environment where silence was king – we were meant to be seen, not heard. I mean, of course we spoke. Mundane speech occasionally, but never the deep stuff. Never the thoughts you really wanted to speak. We were taught to be apologetic, even about things we were not at fault for. We learnt early that our voice, our opinions, don’t matter. I spent most of my childhood in my room, reading, or in front of the TV watching cartoons. But mostly in my room, reading. Escaping. I had to get away from the unsaid things, the heavy unsaid things that choked each and every one of us daily.

And so here I am, a girl who lives in her head but never vocalises what’s going on in there, because I don’t know how. All the monsters, they never out unless I write them out. Writing is the only way I know how to speak.

You’ve heard it said that in a crisis people’s responses are either to fight, or flee (flight). My response is to freeze. That monster stays getting the best of me.

Sometimes that freezing is a mental one. Fear, you know, freezes intelligence. Every time I’m afraid, I find that I can’t think. It’s like writer’s block, but for your brain, and far worse.

I think a lot about death. About how suicide seems sane, though it is not usually thought of as a rational act. The girl who does it seems to have taken the rational, not easy or cowardly, way out. Having surveyed the heaviness of life against her, found her options for “getting over” wanting, she took her life. This life which she was given without her permission/ consent. This life which she was pushed into without being able to choose what circumstances she could be born into. Doesn’t birth, her birth, any birth, seem to be quite the violence? Being born is unfair.

And? What can be said for all these things? How do we, girls born into a world that sets us up for failure, and disappointment, and yet expects us to rise; how do we get over? Can we?

Not waving but drowning. Source: codepen.io

Maybe can is not the problem for you. Maybe it’s do. Do I want to? Get up after the millionth time? Try again after having tried a million times before?

How many

times

can she be knocked down

before

she realizes

there’s no more

fight

left.

Yes, life is war. Always war. It follows then, that to find peace we must fight for it. And we are our biggest enemies. And our greatest allies. But the decision is always ours.

“You block your dreams when you allow your fear to grow bigger than your faith”, Marty Manin Morrissey said. So I must feed my faith, I must find a corner of the world, or a corner in myself, to grieve my disappointments and fertilise my faith. I’ve heard only a mustard seeds worth is necessary to begin. So you fell again. Begin again. Because dying may be easy, but living will be worth it, in the end.

How you got here was not your choice, but you are here now. It was God’s gift to you, you can be.

And you are meant to be.

Yours,

Dusty

“Are these jottings morbid? I once read the sentence ‘I lay awake all night with toothache, thinking about toothache and about lying awake.’ […] Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery’s shadow or reflection: the fact that you don’t merely suffer but have to keep thinking about the fact that you suffer.” ~ CS Lewis, A Grief Observed

“You can live through it. It’s working for your good.” ~ James Fortune & Fiya, Live Through It

“We are the subjects of our own narrative, witnesses to and participants in our own experience, and, in no way coincidentally, in the experience of those with whom we have come in contact. We are not, in fact, “other.” We are choices.”

~ Toni Morrison, Unspeakable Things Unspoken