From Baby Sequoia to You
I’m a lot of shit. But frankly, it’s hard for me to hold up labels – even a smorgasbord of them – as if they encapsulate me: they don’t. Ironically, my biggest fear is people thinking I’m arrogant.
But I’m getting over it.
I know who I am, and I’m also discovering who I am all the time, because in my world I’m constantly having a breakthrough. It’s lit AF. I like it. And I cannot explain myself nor make excuses nor apologize for it. I’ve had good fortune. I’ve been persistent. I made myself. The culture made me. I’m a motherfucking individual. My heroes range from Tupac to Marcus Aurelius. A whole pantheon of thinkers, singers, rappers, writers, poets, dissidents, healers, yogis, artists, and actors raised me. And I’m quite in love with more than one of them. But I’m mostly in love with regular people, my friends. Feeling is everything to me. Vibes.
I am highly sensitive [HSP], emphatic, caring – compassionate – but I’m also dark, and “violent and original” in my work, though I’m far from orderly in my life. I prefer rituals to routines. My life is intuitively lived from some deep place even I don’t have access to. I live life a page at a time. Which is not to say I lack direction: I’ve been blueprinting my life since I was a child. Designing who I wanted to be. And that design, that imago, has constantly expanded as I have become more cultured and learned – till now, where, I’m pretty fucking liberated in my being. I haven’t taken off yet, but I’m close; I’m just still enjoying my feet touching the bottom for a few, before the water gets deep and strangers start telling me who they think I am based on my work.
I am a writer. I am a programmer. I am a poet. I’m a singer and a rapper. I’m a psychonaut. I’m in love with Nature. I’m a lot of things, and I love a lot of things. What a fucking time to be alive. From AI to space colonization, I’m on the pulse of this world – this world is in my pulse. My curiosity has no horizons.
I know that health and time are the real wealth, that success in life is the quality of your relationship with yourself, and that kindness is the coolest thing in the world. I come from poverty – I had a tough childhood. I’m making things up to myself. And I think you can drive a Lamborghini and save the world. In the words of mentor and teacher of mine [C.G. Jung], “I’d rather be whole than good”.
I believe in ethics rather than morals: in the effects of your actions upon yourself, others, and the planet, rather than the nature of the actions themselves. Drugs should be legal, sex work is real work, and I’d rather be friends with gangsters and drug dealers than empty suits: I like to know what people stand for. I don’t manipulate the optics. I don’t scheme like that. I’m just honest. And sometimes people hate me for being so happy and free, but that seems rarer and rarer, as I become more myself and give off a happy and free contact high to others through my art. I do drugs and I deal consciousness. Magic.
And the magic comes from a genuine love of life. I’ve paid some dues. Long sufferings. Poverty. Loneliness. Military service. Heartbreaks. Homelessness. Depression. Growing up with no self-esteem. No one gave me my happiness. I found it. And now it’s all around me – yet: our world is fucked up. Black people are being murdered in the streets at the hands of police. Indigenous people are still being ignored by society. And Brown people everywhere have dealt with oppressive colonial systems of control that have generated the inequity we see today. It’s not just money and things. It’s the gut microbiome of the poor children containing doritos, a twinkie, and a soda, from the corner market, while the privileged children are running on organic yogurt, kombucha, and blueberries. We have a world wherein nervous systems are unequally stressed based upon ethnicity, means, opportunity, privilege, and ability. The disadvantaged, the marginalized – Black, Indigenous, and People of Color – people from different cultures, religious backgrounds, and countries – LGBTQAI, Queer, Transgender, and Gender Non-Conforming – our most vulnerable people are bearing the burdens of our society and the suffering the collective errors of our ways. We must do better.
As artists and consumers of art, we have an opportunity to be the resistance, to stand with the people, up against the empire and the worldmachine of uncaring, cold corporatism. We need new archetypes. We need to learn the real history of our countries and the cultures we overran in our path to modernity. The past is full of heroes. Maya Angelous and Viktor Frankls. The future can be too. We’re beginning to break of from the ‘corporate archetype of self’ that has been projected upon the the people for so long by a revenue centered mass media, which has catered to the most privileged, and in doing so, in breaking free from the images sold us so long, we’re seeing all the beauty and brilliance beyond the white, thin, privileged, perfect smile, inorganic images of beauty that hold us down, making us feel less than, limited by our own low self-esteem in a world that has not valued us.
We’re also becoming liberated from the confines of boy / girl cisgender and gender binary heterosexuality. There is a beautiful Yin transformation, a softening, that I forsee for our world. Get used to words like Trans, ENBY, Pansexual, Polyromantic and Panromantic. Those are just a few. There are so many more hues in this prismatic holographic universe, with which we can express ourselves, rather than just the homogeneous gray shades of yesteryear. Change is happening and things are getting better and brighter in this world. But we have work to do.
People fear what they do not understand and judge what they do not allow in themselves: without their All American world of reassuring lies and naive ignorance, they worry that the future will not be a friendly place for them, that they will not be welcomed. If you are hateful, no, you will not be welcomed into the new world of inclusivity and mutual equity amongst people of all backgrounds. We’ve been sold a lie that success is all hard work – rather than mostly privilege, who you are born to, and where you are born. And we’ve worked hard our whole lives for this lie. But we never had the freedom – to create, to pursue that white whale we know only we can find. To follow our dreams without fear of being destitute and alone, which some of the brightest people often are. Now the world is changing. Pandemic. AI. Robotics. We’re truly headed to a free society. But it won’t be free until we are all free. And the All does not end at our doorstep, or our neighborhood, our even our country: people are people. Animals also deserve MUCH better. We have devalued both and lost the point of life: connection to ourselves and other beings on the planet. We have chased the images of beauty rather than the experiences and the feelings of being beautiful: of being happy and free.
States of flow. Joy. Playfulness. Laughter. Safe space to cry and people who will listen, these are things everyone deserves. I’m not here to tell us all how to live, I just know what it’s like to be poor and not have any friends because of it. And it’s lonely. My heart breaks for all the quiet heroes out there with their heads down, and no one to even appreciate them, and often, no touch from a partner or lover. It’s lonely at the bottom, not the top.
But I see a day when those at the top will want to spend time with those at the bottom, and not because it’s cool for virtue signaling and social proof, but because people are so much more than appearances and lifestyles. As Lil Baby raps, “I be judging by the mind and heart, I ain’t really into faces.” But for us to be able to look into the minds and hearts of others, we need to see past our own appearances and our own fearful pre-occupations with the constant insecurities that plague us. We need to disconnect from the corporate images of beauty, from the perception that money and fame make a person better. And if we do these things personally, we learn to see clearly into our own minds and hearts, which acquaints us with the true beauty and depth in all of us. Find this and you will be released from the judgements of others – and of your self too. You can love yourself. You can come back around. You can change after decades of being one way. “I’t’s our own perception of ourselves, that’s what limits us,” as Jay Z said. And it does, but our own perceptions are based in a world very preoccupied with appearances. Would most people even have the depth to see you if you saw yourself and had the courage to be who you really are? I don’t know. But I know we spend our lives looking for someone to finally see us, someone who will show us that we are okay and worthy. And, I’m sorry to tell you, but, manic pixie dream girls and guys like Zach Braff only exist in the movies. In real life, they’re all famous singers or actors driving Porsches. This does not mean the characters and archetypes we worship and relate to are bad. It just means they are not coming to save you. You have to unplug yourself from this matrix. You have to initiate yourself into the world. You have to live your own mistakes and pains and rites of passage. And it hurts. But you are one of a kind. And there is no one who can play the note you can – nor will there ever be another you. We don’t need more clones. The culture’s tired of it. We want OGs. Originals. And you can be whomever you wish to be: even yourself, but we’ve got to make sure the world is a safe place for that. Because, for some people, being themselves is a lot harder and requires a lot more courage, risk, and heart than should be asked of them. But here they are.
I can’t say I have one message. Like you, I am not a one note kind of player: but if I had to choose one word, I would say EXPRESSION. And maybe that can only happen late at night, alone, when no one is home, or on the drive to work. But the more you express, the more you embody who you are, the more you keep it true and real, the more power you will have. And that’s what they fear. Our power. Because we are so powerful. And they can be in this Royal We too, for we are not building a future of “us” and “them” but of We and All. But this coalescence of culture is not a blender meant to create one flavor. The We of tomorrow allows all flavors – all but intolerance; for if we are tolerant of intolerance, we cannot draw a line at what is proper or improper levels of hate – and throughout history, intolerance has been the enemy of the people. It was the enemy of The Slaves, of Jews in Nazy Germany, and of diversity of all types today. We must learn to tolerate and coexist. But to do that, we’ve got to take culture back from those who have commoditized it and watered it down.
Spend money with Black and Brown owned businesses. Quit blindly voting with all your dollars for more mega-corporate conglomeration and greater inequality. There is a stock owning class that this benefits, and most of us are not in that class. Only, they’ve run shit – this owner class – because society is complex business and our politicians work for the wealthy and not the people. We need the levers of control back. This does not happen through revolution, it happens through collective evolution, each of us as beacons kindling the light in the darkness of being. IT requires heart. IT’s hard. It’s scary sometimes. IT can be lonely. We just need to open up. To be heart warriors with the empathy and courage to honor our stories, our feelings, and our pains. This is about the world healing, but it happens through individual healing, and then we heal others. But they still have to unplug themselves from this matrix. It’s hard enough to change ourselves; changing other people is far harder. But when we do change ourselves, the world changes with us; for we each carry a world within. Reality is a consensus. A majority agreement. And that shared, commonly accepted version of events and histories and “truths” is really full of shit. And we all lowkey suspected or knew that the adults were full of shit when we were kids. But we grew up, and we didn’t want to be alone, or hated, or feared, so we agreed with what we did not agree with. We shrunk. We did not listen to the body. We tried to actualize the image rather than the self, because we were not allowed to be who we are. This is still the case for many. The time for facades and fronting is coming to an end among those who wish to be happy and free, but we must provide this liberation for individuality to each and every human on the planet.
You are worthy of your own respect and love. And I’m sorry society has not given you respect and love, if, like, me, you grew to become invisible to the world because the world wasn’t ready for you, didn’t know what to make of you, couldn’t compare you to others – so they called you crazy. They called you a narcissist for loving yourself [True narcissists, in my experience, fucking hate themselves and love only the false image they force everyone in their life to suffer.] Self-love is not a crime. It is an act of rebellion in a system that denies equity to those who don’t look like the movie screen version of who they want to be. Self-love is the most bad ass, valuable skill you can learn. And it is a skill. It requires changing how you think. Self-love, in order to exist, demands that we overcome the societally driven echo chamber of the world’s insecurities, which we have all been forced to live with for long enough.
I hope you find liberation from shame, fear, insecurity. I hope that you take this self-love stuff seriously. It can be hard when we are always looking for a partner to be what a parent was not. But we have to parent ourselves. We all have an inner child. It’s just been hiding, bc the inner child has no capacity for bullshit, and it knows this world, this life we have lived has been far too full of it, for far too long. Now we must make use of the opportunities we have, together and alone, to be the change, to signal boost the right voices, and tune out the noise and static. Let’s get clear. This happens through personal and shared expression.
I’m taking moments like these to create feelings. And them I’m integrating them into my being through the continual practice of my art – of consciousness. IT has required sacrifices. Blood, sweat, tears, and far too many close calls with the reaper got me here. Now I’m gentle with myself, but I go hard AF. Got to. This is it. And I’m going to play this life for all that I can be, and for that all that I can contribute. But I’m no saint. I like sex, drugs, tattoos, bad bitches, and gangster shit. But you can be a real one, you can be unfuckwithable, without compromising your own values, your own integrity – without feeling guilty or shameful for who you are. But to do this, you gotta do one thing, and you can’t make exceptions. You have to uphold your reputation with yourself, you have to be true to you, and if, like me, you had a really poor reputation with yourself, bc of a generational or familial lack of self-esteem and personal hardships, then you have to build a new reputation with yourself. It just requires honesty, keeping it 100 with your inner child – your innermost self – bc they – YOU – have been through a fucking lot to get here. And now that you, that we are here, we have the chance of a lifetime: to be ourselves. To be who we really are and who we really can be. And alone, together, we can and we will. – SLS