Vision, Art, & Faith meet Gandhi
Currently I'm reading Mahatma Gandhi's autobiography The Stories of my Experiments with Truth and strangely enough I feel really connected to how he approaches self-reflection. Within his book, he dives into various situations throughout his life where he always took time to find his truth based on what resonated with who he is and what he stands for. He questioned everything and wouldn't take popular opinion as a reason to follow something like religion or even dietary habits. For example, spent a large section detailing his relationship with food, more specifically how he "abstain[ed] from meat in the interest of truth". Now what's the most striking about this sentence, is how something seemingly as simple as one's diet to the essence of him.
Mind you, he proclaimed this way of life before vegetarianism in the western world was even a thing. At the time he was in England studying and received a lot of pushback for his dietary choice, but despite popular views he would politely say no to meat and often starve to stay connected to his truth. In other words he would purposefully sacrifice comfort despite what other people thought, felt or even what was "culturally appropriate" at the time. Strangely enough that's me since living my parents home, starting from my college days until even now. I make a point to listen to my intuition and actively searching for the answer that resonates with me. In other words, like Gandhi, continue to hold experiments with my own truth.
I remember the transition from Michigan to Washington D.C., school to working full-time and the days and weeks of diving into myself. A strong part of this introspection was my relationship with food. There were many moments where I felt I couldn't go without certain things like chocolate or a specific snack and this lack of control seemed to bother me until one day I said, "No food should come before God. If I feel like I cannot be without it, I should abstain until I can control my consumption and relationship with it." So for weeks or months at a time I would give up all types of stuff to release myself from it, because after all its just food and its sole purpose is to nourish.
This led me to trying diets based on vegetarianism, pescatarianism, paleo, gluten-free, among others. I switched so much my mom literally couldn't keep up with me. "What are you now?", she would patiently ask every time I made a trip home for a couple of days. By the end of all of these "experiments" I found truth in Veganism which I've been following for 2 years now.
I arrived at this point by questioning myself and developing a larger sense of how I wanted to approach the world and live my life. In doing so, I found what felt true to me and not anyone else, cause best believe I've gotten all types of comments and weird glances when I say I'm vegan. Most people respond, "Oh no, I couldn't do that. I love cheese too much." And in my mind that's exactly the reason why I felt it important to challenge what I consume. Yes, I've been through times of intense hunger or discomfort, but in those times I leaned on the purpose and truth as to why I was abstaining and that alone got me and continues to get me through.
Throughout high school, my parents were pretty open when it came to trying alcoholic beverages. The goal was to expose my brother and I to it at an early enough age to create a positive experience surrounding it. Once I got to college, I saw first hand the misuse and abuse of alcohol that was starkly different from being at home with my parents. I couldn't wrap my head around getting drunk just cause you could and losing control to make questionable decisions for fun. I never intended to judge others, I just never understood it and I didn't feel that it was true to who I was. So for 5 years if anyone asked, I politely said, "Thanks, but I don't drink". It wasn't until post-college that I started drinking alcohol in environments where I felt more comfortable that we're merely social with a chill vibe. As if going back to the same truth and atmosphere that I found with my parents, I discovered how and why I'd like to approach drinking.
At the University of Michigan, we trained daily to prepare for going out into the professional field. The typical American dancer story is:
1. Train Intensely
2. Move to New York
3. Audition like crazy while taking classes
4. Do non dance-related side job while reaching toward Step 3.
This common dancer story didn't sit well with me and it didn't help that I wasn't a fan of New York. So while many of my dancer friends followed this path I decided to be different and learn more about my field as a whole because it takes so many people to make our magic happen. About a week after graduation, I ended up moving to Washington, D.C for an arts internship focusing on individual giving and grant writing. I spent the summer in the internship and actually booked a full-time professional gig starting that fall.
Many of my friends and professors were in disbelief when I told them. They didn't doubt my ability but just how rare it is for a fresh graduate to book a full-time gig. But if I hadn't of looked at my future from a different lens, a lens closely connected to my truth I think I'd have a different story to tell. It was honestly that moment of truth, the transition between college and my professional life that made all the difference like walking down a road and seeing a 2 very different paths and choosing based on which resonates with you even if you don't understand it. In seeking my truth I've honestly learned along that way and this approach continues to build and affect my life in amazing ways.
In my experiments with truth I've discovered that each was a sacrifice socially, physically, or mentally. Arguably I missed out of certain social relationships in college, experiences with exotic cuisine or work in NYC but it's through questioning the why behind these examples and really listening to my intuition that I've grown confident in who I am and experienced a different more Briana way of living, a life that I've literally created myself. Like Gandhi, I've taken the time to discover more about what I stand for and thus gotten closer to what makes me, me. Sure I'll change and grow but I think at the root I'll be the woman with an unapologetic search for truth in all that she does.
After all without truth, what are we?
Thanks for reading,
And remember always have faith, keep a vision and make art in everything that you do.