Written by Khalilah Ramirez, The Peace Dancer, for Silicon Valley Debug Stories
Greetings to all who are reading! Welcome to 2020, the year that symbolized futuristic progress in our collective imaginations since the 20th century. Has 2020 been everything you hoped for these past three weeks? Give an honest, secret evaluation of the year so far. Write it all down. Tell no one. Make the changes you wish to see. Note your personal progress without judgement or criticism. This is the way forward in everything. Think, act, observe, document.
As a Dancer of Peace, my work is to engage, encourage and experiment within my art form and our community. To do this, I commit myself to continuous learning, growth and daring. Thankfully, organizations like Silicon Valley De-Bug set an example of boldness for the rest of us to follow. Saying NO to injustice and inequality is just the beginning. Each of us can act in ways large and small to help our world progress in the field of human rights and protecting each other. Protection can mean empathy and assistance or it can be as simple as guarding our speech. Speak about ideas, power, encouragement, love and solutions. Avoid complaining, gossip and negativity. This practice is not about being “fake”. It’s a discipline that takes the utmost practice. None of us will ever fully perfect it. Why try? Because it is a practice that spreads major light in the muddled darkness of the world. Because it is a challenge, worthy of our effort. Because it takes courage to rise above the “normal” ways of speaking, thinking and being. It takes courage to change the world.
The good news is, we all have the courage to do what is necessary to thrive. All we have to do is activate it. This is an everyday, ordinary practice that starts small. It starts inside with the inner knowledge that we are sovereign over our own lives. It’s true that we can’t control life or other people. What we can do is proactively choose our emotions, thoughts and actions. When we think and make decisions from a fearful mindset, we misstep and create situations that make us unhappy. When we think and create from a place of courage, our lives blossom. We feed ourselves with positive energy. We gain confidence by acting from courage.
Courage takes time. For example, my latest challenge to myself was to make the most of my commute by launching the Dance of Peace on the train. I thought about this for weeks. I watched YouTube videos of people on New York subways dancing like crazy on the train, passing the hat and walking away like it was nothing. ‘How awesome!’ I thought, ‘If I could do something like that, riding the train would never be the same again!’ Weeks went by and I couldn’t do it. Was it the nearly silent commuting atmosphere? Was it the florescent lighting damaging my brain? Was I afraid because there are signs posted that state that loud music is prohibited? I was intrigued by the fact that something that seemed so small was such a challenge for me.
One day out of nowhere, it happened. A dance on the train. It felt like much more than a mere coincidence that this incident occurred during the only 10 minutes I spent on the train that day. The dance wasn’t done by me. There was a highly energetic man in his 20’s there, who looked to be entirely in his own world. From the outside, it appeared as if he wasn’t aware that he was on a public train. He was loud and passionate in his actions. He promptly removed his shirt, completely unfazed by the fact he needed a bath. He sang aloud, a song only he knew, making up rhymes as he went. He stomped, spun around and marched intensely from one end of the train to the other. I watched, feeling both excited and horrified. None of the train’s other 10 passengers looked up from their phones at all. “See?” the Universe seemed to be saying to me, “You could have a much more positive effect on people in this situation, don’t you think?” Thank you Universe, for pointing out the obvious. The Universe always communicates in this way for me. Clear, yet calm. Confrontational, yet mildly amused. Life doesn’t teach. It unfolds effortlessly. It’s up to us to grasp what we see and learn from it.
In the meantime, let’s have patience with ourselves while practicing courage, giving ourselves unlimited second chances. If something we dream up doesn’t work out, figure out why and try again. We must never give up dreaming, experimenting and challenging ourselves. Each of us was born to win in our own way. Thanks and see you out there!