Everything must change
Nothing stays the same
Everyone must change
No one stays the same
The young become the old
And mysteries do unfold
’Cause that’s the way of time
Nothing and no one goes unchanged
This final post is a long time coming. I’ve tried to write it for the past two years and each time I sat down to end this column, I convinced myself that I needed to continue with the KIS.list. This time, however, there’s no changing the outcome. This is the last post of the KIS.list.
What’s different about this time is that I’m not stopping out of boredom, despair, or exhaustion. I believe I’ve actually completed an arc with the KIS.list. I started off in classic blog fashion reporting about my experiences as a writer—from a personal lens. Over the course of ten years I developed an approach to talk about the universal artist (and sometimes human) experience. My strokes became broader, my references became larger, and my intent became an attempt to encompass the broadness of this great big world.
This past decade has been a time of incredible turmoil in my relationship to myself as a writer. The KIS.list was a constant that allowed me to continue my apprenticeship in the craft of wordsmithing while weathering a drought of productivity, focus, and motivation. Despite the fact that I wrote very little new fiction, the discipline of writing the KIS.list allowed me to continue to develop my skills as a writer. It gave me a healthier distance from my work and made me willing to write and let go.
For the tenth year I wanted to do something big with the KIS.list, but no big idea has arrived. Rather than hold off this breakup waiting for some dramatic finish, I’m going to close the door now and be back in touch if I come up with a theatrical flourish to close out with.
I leave you as a stronger writer than I was when I started the KIS.list. I leave you as a writer with a healthier sense of self, process, and relevance. I leave you in action—I’m meeting personal goals, selling and showing my paintings, and working on a short story collection that is forthcoming from Aqueduct Press in spring 2012.
In classic human fashion—even as I’m filled with pride at all of these wonderful changes, it is a daily struggle to freely and easefully embrace change. I have not been a woman running into the arms of change, arms spread, full tilt. I’ve had hesitations, uncertainties, and halts. On more occasions than I care to count, I have had to wrestle myself into fully embracing change.
Life is, in many ways, difficult, but in other ways it is profoundly easy. Years of wanting and trying and attempting can lead you to a brick wall. Sometimes the obstacles we think we have aren’t the ones we are actually struggling with. The real struggle is the resistance, the refusal to accept things the way they are, the refusal to flow with that which IS in favor of stubbornly seeking out that which we WISH WAS.
We let our wants freeze us up. Blinded to the bounty that we do have, we focus on what we wish we had and let everything go sour over our perceived failure and lack. A few months back, I saw a film called “Certify Copy” in which an older woman says to a younger woman: “Don’t let your dreams ruin your life.”
That line stuck with me. It can be seen as settling for less than. But what I hear in it is that while you’re working toward your dreams, you have to live. And in living and thriving you can connect to the mojo, catch on to the tail of life and soar. I spent so many years fighting so hard for my dreams that my life was completely unacceptable as it was. A rejection of your life does not have to come with working toward your dreams. I didn’t gain any traction in my quest for forward motion until I accepted—really, totally, and fully accepted—reality. I looked at my reality, held out my hand, and said, ‘I get it, you are my reality.’ Then instead of asking ‘how can I change you?’ (which is what I spent most of the past decade trying to do), I asked: ‘how can I be/do what I want while dancing with you?’
Change is ever-present. Change is irony. Change is perfect and imperfect. Change is timely and (seemingly) ill-timed. Change is life. Fight it if you want to, but you’re just ruining your own ride, harshing your own mellow, downing your own high.
I thank you for journeying with me thus far. From this point on, I will use this email list to announce events and happenings in my career. Postings will be sporadic and on an as-needed basis. If you would like to keep in touch, stay on the list or “like” my fan page (Kiini Ibura Salaam on Facebook). If you would like to be removed from the list, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is a wonderful, creative, productive, transformative time for so many people. I am wishing creativity, productivity, and positive transformation for you. I know how easy it is to hide out from yourself, to dodge or delay your ideas and your wants. I have spent many years flying under the radar, out of sight. But if you are gentle with yourself, if you relax your demands, and meet your dreams halfway, you can move closer to the life you deserve.
One of the things I love about life is its echoes and reminders. Whatever you are dealing with in life, you may find insight in overheard conversations, television shows, street signs, and songs. Case in point: at a recent photo shoot for my new author photo, the photographer—my friend Regine Romain—handed me a stack of Black Angel Cards. “Shuffle them,” she told me, “then spread them out and choose one.” The one I chose was called “The Changer.” I had to laugh. The universe is not letting up on this one. It is time to change—and in changing become, even more deeply, myself. The KIS.list has taught me so many life lessons and I am so grateful to it, and to all of you. I am overjoyed to finally be at this phase of my life in which I am being pushed forward on the tides of change. Yes, it destabilizes me, but it also lifts me soaring higher and higher until even I can’t believe all the good I can achieve.
Be well. Be love[d].
Kiini Ibura Salaam
Life Lessons I Learned from the KIS.list
Listen and act; only by doing will you learn if you are moving in the right direction. Release your worries and fears; study your progress. Work it for a reasonable amount of time, then let go. You don’t have to understand, manage, or control. Just be in the moment. Follow the signs. Everything changes; your worries and stresses won’t help you predict, force, or restrain change. You must surrender. Listen—listen to the flow of change, allow yourself to swim with change, then let go and be the change. Tomorrow is already within you, let it burst forth and flower.