It is probably too early, too close for me to consider this well or to provide anything profound. So, I want to try to give a visceral instinctual response, this will be quite the stream of consciousness, so please bear with me.
The first thought that comes to mind is being overwhelmed – still overwhelmed that I was originally chosen for this wonderful opportunity, still overwhelmed that the time has gone by so swiftly, still overwhelmed in trying to focus and visualize the “what’s next” part.
What I wish I would have known at the start, what I would love to impart and advise to future Bush fellows – I would say this to them first and most effusively, it is the thing I do wish I would have known in a deep way. I would say to future Bush fellows, I would say to my former self – You Belong. You are not an imposter. You deserve this. Even now it’s a hard thing to say out loud, not to come off as bombastic or braggadocios. It is important to know that you belong so you can fully listen and learn and experience all that is about to happen, the large and the small, its important so you can trust your instincts and adapt accordingly because there will be lots of adaptation. Your best made plans will require adaptation. That adaptation must come from trust, trust that you belong. I wish I would have known to breathe easy through the mistakes. One of my first major investments with Bush funds was to register and attend the Eyeo Festival, it was totally not a good fit for me and it took me some time to not consider that a failure and a waste of money, and right off the bat! So I was shook up a bit by fear, fear of not really knowing the right tactical move. It took me some time to recover and carry on. Later I did realize some development in my path based on attending that event, mostly just based on developing new forms of listening and experiencing. The term for our fellowship is unencumbered for a reason, take that to heart, live in that, sit with it for some time, consider what release from weight and chain actually means for your life, beyond the financial consideration. I would set the self-care idea as the top number 1 priority, because with great honesty, I still have yet to grasp that concept fully. This is my biggest struggle to date, to the point where family is concerned with my health and well-being. I cannot shake this pattern of not taking care of myself. Though I know all the intellectual understanding of praxis, I am stuck in a destructive quality that I must overcome. I recommend Kiese Laymon’s novel Heavy. I read it recently and I just sobbed in a way I don’t think I have since my father’s last mental breakdown and the last existence of my parents being together. In the book Laymon writes in bare stark striking honesty about his relationship with his mother and his relationship with his weight and health. As an overweight Black man with similar struggles, similar backgrounds, this resonated with me so much, that deep abiding pain. I wish I would have known how much that would have affected the trajectory of my fellowship. But, now I do know, and I know it’s not too late to heal.
What surprised me most? I was most surprised by the genuine outpouring of love and support I have received throughout this fellowship. Not that I expected poor treatment. I didn’t expect the love. Love from folks at Bush (not just doing their job). Love from folks in the community, not steeped in competition or deficit mentality, just simple love and admiration. I was surprised that my leadership was welcomed and asked for, even if I was self-conscious about ordaining myself a leader. I was certainly surprised at how quickly the time goes by, it is like a blur. I think because it also goes by in stages and waves, times of transition and times of action and times of rest and recovery – and you need all of it. I was surprised at how much my life plan has evolved in this rapid two years. I thought I had it well figured out, and I was faced with realizations that just cannot be set aside. Before I take those steps, and I believe those steps will happen, there are other places where I need to grow and heal, cannot forgo that growth and healing. These are all the most pleasant surprises. Lastly, I am surprised that I was not a happy person at the beginning of the fellowship, thought I was but realized that was not quite what I was experiencing. So, I am on a journey toward true happiness and that gives me all the energy and drive in the world.