My NoCal Chill

After 4 weeks of camp living as an extrovert, this week I found myself retreating farther into a personal bubble. I like to tell

people that I don’t have a personal bubble because typically I can talk to anyone and everyone—without problem.

But this week, I felt myself lacking some of the energy it takes to meet new people and get to know them well, and become friends. It has gotten much harder to connect with people when you know you might never see or hear from them again. Many moments I just wanted to be alone with silence.

The beautiful view of the Sierra Nevadas from the parking lot at CGC.

And for some of you that know me well, this might be shocking! It surprised me as well. To my introvert friends you might comfortably sympathize with my desire for me time, but for some reason I feel ashamed to have wanted some me time. After all, I am being paid to travel, teach, and engage people in topics of justice and peace. Yet, I hit a wall—I broke and I chose some me time.

When I was alone I read, I watched Netflix, and I slept—I never really felt alone, but rather I just wanted to chill (which is ironic because it got close to 100 degrees in our cabin—not chill).

Wanting to chill is OK, but for some reason taking that me time is always going to be read as selfish. I’ve been reminded thousands of times about my generation being the ME generation, the generation of selfish wants, the Treat-Yo-Self generation—labels jam packed with stigma about how anti-social we are, and how little we care about others, and how it has killed our work ethic, blah, blah, blah.

I’m tired of hearing that kind of negative shit, so I am going to combat it here in hopes that it might challenge the binary of selfish/selfless and that I might reduce my own internalized shame associated with wanting to treat myself.

This topic came up in a small group this past week where I read the following quote from the 14th Dalai Lama:

“It is important that when pursing our own self-interest we should be ‘wise selfish’ and not ‘foolish selfish.’ Being foolish selfish means pursuing our own interests in a narrow, shortsighted way. Being wise selfish means taking a broader view and recognizing that our own long-term individual interest lies in the welfare of everyone. Being wise selfish means being compassionate.”

The pine forest in the mountains was gorgeous and serene.

Now this is definitely not a call to treat yo self by any means, but it includes the idea that being selfish can be connected to a larger calling to be compassionate. The Dalai Lama links self-interests to the collective interest.

Therefore, I now feel justified about reading some books by the pool in Northern California—tough gig amirite? But in all honesty, I learned a lot from that self-reflection time that will benefit my overall work towards social justice. Which means that my selfish alone time might benefit me in the short term, but in the long term? In the long term those selfish, peaceful moments by the pool might make a world of difference in a longer trajectory towards justice.

Here are the books I devoured in while in Northern California, I would 11/10 recommend:

Freedom is a Constant Struggle by Angela Davis

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

This Bridge Called my Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color edited by Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua

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